by George brant
Directed by laley lippard
An elite fighter-pilot trades the cockpit for a cradle when an unexpected pregnancy forces her from the sky. Soon, she longs to return to her aerial battlefield, but is instead assigned to pilot drones from a windowless trailer in the Nevada desert. Each day she deploys to hunt terrorists and each night returns to raise a family. The boundary between her drone screen and domestic life begin to blur as the urgency of tracking an eminent target and the needs of a family fracture her loyalty.
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Through the Director's Eye
Welcome, dear audience, to Grounded. Like many of you, I grew up in Hampton Roads and experienced the power of live theater from the seats of The Wells. I began my directing career at The Virginia Governor's School for the Arts. Returning to direct this urgent and necessary play with the Virginia Stage Company is a thrill and an honor.
Years ago, on a particularly sublime day in Virginia Beach, I shielded my eyes from the glaring sun as the Blue Angels tore through the sky. Tourists reflexively clapped their hands over their ears. Looking up, a family friend said, “That is the sound of freedom.”
The soundtrack of my youth is uniquely defined by the sound of jets -- the roaring of the airborne Tigers. I was raised by, taught by, and am friends with current and former service men and women. Members of my family served in every war of the Twentieth Century. It is second nature to respect the people attached to those jets.
George Brant was inspired to write this play after reading an article about the growing use of drone warfare. He discussed with me how the description of civilian death and the impact on the pilots struck a nerve -- a rippled ringing of responsibility. Writers create worlds that give space for our polarized and tangled realities to be viscerally felt. They draw us from our heads to our hearts through story. They allow us to hold contradictions. They complicate our absolute certainties.
The Pilot invites us to look up and hear her, without clapping our hands over our ears, so that in witnessing a more complex story of war, we might brush against freedom.
As a director, I am always interested in making invisible narratives visible so that we can be witness to the fullness of the American story. It has been an incredible journey to bring this play to life. I am continually amazed by my collaborators who have poured their heart and soul into this production.
Thank you for your support of and passion for the theater.