*Originally written for A Younger Theatre*
To say Grounded took last year’s Edinburgh Fringe by storm may be a bit of an understatement. For about a week, George Brant’s play about an American pilot who finds herself sat behind a desk manning a drone was the only show anyone spoke of, with five star reviews across the board and a buzz which still hasn’t quite died down. At the heart of it all was Lucy Ellinson who, trapped within a gauze box throughout the entirety of Christopher Haydon’s exquisite production, recounted to us the Pilot’s hilarious and heartbreaking story. Now, before a visit to Washington DC and an upcoming tour, Grounded is back at Notting Hill’s Gate Theatre, the place of its inception.
Did any of the team expect the response to the show? “No, no, not at all,” Ellinson tells me a few hours before press night. “I knew it’d be interesting to people because of the insight it gives you into a very secretive form of warfare, and a very secretive transformation of our armed forces. But I didn’t imagine for a second that it’d be received as well as it was.” Continue reading Interview: Lucy Ellinson
at the Traverse Theatre, Monday 6th August 2013
*Originally written for Culture Wars*
John Kerry recently pledged to put an early stop to drone strikes in Pakistan. The extent to which you believe this depends on your trust in politicians, but his statement certainly doesn’t mark an all-out end to drone warfare. According to the unnamed Pilot in Grounded, within five years their use will be widespread. And though its contemporary relevance is the reason for its immediate success, the play is also an extraordinarily human account of war and family which has an impact far beyond its resonance in 2013.
George Brant’s play takes the form of a monologue told by Pilot, whose story begins flying planes in live combat missions. Continue reading “Grounded” by George Brant
*Originally written for Exeunt*
In recent months, there has been a deluge of terrifying and anger-inducing statistics about drone strikes in Waziristan killing innocent civilians and children. We have heard of unwarranted attacks on schools and offices, with only a tiny percentage of those killed being reported as high profile targets. Understandably, the coverage has focussed on the casualties rather than the perpetrators, but as George Brant’s Grounded discovers, drone strikes also have a major effect on those controlling the planes. Chris Haydon, who has directed the piece which plays at the Traverse as part of the Edinburgh Fringe this month, tells me that “drone pilots suffer from the same levels of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as fighter pilots, which is really weird because you’d think a drone pilot isn’t risking any danger, whereas fighter pilots are risking their lives… What a fighter pilot does is they drop their bombs and they’re gone. What a drone pilot does is they drop their bombs and then they linger, and they literally hover over what they’ve done and they see the death and they see the destruction. They then also have to go home every night”. Continue reading Interview: Chris Haydon