Q Theatre, The Vault, Auckland

17/02/2015 - 21/02/2015

Auckland Fringe 2015

Production Details


GROUNDED is the “gripping” (New York Times) one-woman show about drones, surveillance and a new type of warfare that has left the battlefields behind and made everyone a suspect; a suspect who can be monitored and destroyed at any time. Northern Lights Theatre presents the New Zealand premiere of this high profile production from 17-21 February as part of the Auckland Fringe.

An unexpected pregnancy ends an ace fighter pilot’s career in the sky. Reassigned to operate military drones from a windowless trailer outside Las Vegas, she hunts terrorists by day and returns to her family each night. As the pressure to track a high-profile target mounts, the boundaries begin to blur between the desert in which she lives and the one she patrols half a world away.

Critically-acclaimed and multi-award winning, this has been one of the most talked-about new plays of the last couple of years. As New Zealand joins the coalition to fight ISIS in the Middle East and uproot terrorists at home this play is more relevant now than ever and essential watching for anyone who cares about world affairs.

Named a Top 10 London Play of 2013 by both the Guardian and the London Evening Standard 

“Grounded is a heartbreaking, beautiful, necessary and perfectly-structured solo drama … an essential story for our times.” Scotsman

“A searing piece of writing . . . gripping . . . a must-see.” Guardian

 “Five Stars. Outstanding.” London Evening Standard

“As close to perfection as is possible to imagine…Grounded is a powerful, hallucinogenic experience.” What’s On Stage

“Gripping” New York Times

“Critic’s Pick. A scorching sharp-eyed, timely script…lets no one off easy…clap all you want at the end of the play—and you’ll want to clap a lot—but the game stays with you” Time Out New York

GROUNDED will be performed

Dates:  17-21 February, 7.15pm (Duration: 1 hour).
Venue:  Q Theatre Vault, 305 Queen St, Auckland 
Tickets:  $22 – $27
Bookings: // 0508 iTICKET (484-253) or // 09 309 9771 

The Smith Prize
NNPN Rolling World Premiere
Scotsman Fringe First Award
British Council Recommendation
Off-West End Theatre Award for Best Production of 2013
Arizona Daily Star Mac Award for Best Drama of 2013
Short-listed for the James Tait Black Prize for Drama
Short-listed for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award 

Auckland Fringe 2015 is an open access arts festival where anything can happen. It provides a platform for practitioners and audiences to unite in the creation of form forward experiences which are championed in an ecology of artistic freedom. The 2015 programme will see work happening all over the show, pushing the boundaries of performance Auckland wide from February 11 to March 1.

Target Locked

Review by Rose Archer 19th Feb 2015

George Brant’s script of Grounded is so extraordinary that if nothing else it is absolutely worth going to see such a wonderful piece of writing come to life. Grounded is a complex and moving portrayal of one female pilots struggle with motherhood, marriage, and being ‘grounded’ as a drone-pilot. Essentially an hour-long monologue, the pacing and variation in the writing are thoughtful and rich enough to create a highly compelling piece of theatre.

The set is minimal, and the visual sparseness nicely echoes the world of American suburbia and military life in which the story takes place. Despite this sparseness the staging effectively creates different physical and mental worlds that the audience travels to with the protagonist throughout the piece. [More]


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Important ideas for reflection and debate

Review by Bronwyn Elsmore 18th Feb 2015

The offerings in this year’s Auckland Fringe Festival lean heavily towards quirky entertainment: imaginative scenarios with the emphasis on fun. This is the one that stands alone: not bright, not fantastical, not fun. It’s grey, grounded in contemporary reality, and very worth seeing. 

That’s not surprising, since it’s the work of American playwright George Brant who keeps earning prestigious awards for a list of plays regularly described in superlatives. 

Exploring ethical dilemmas is what theatre does best, and the scenario of Grounded allows full scope for this.

In brief, a woman fighter pilot, a US air force major, becomes pregnant. Any forced ejection from the plane would bring on an abortion, and she won’t risk killing the foetus. She is grounded – shifted from the job she loved, flying in the high blue sky, to sitting in a trailer in the desert near Las Vegas. From air force to chair force. Now pilot of an unmanned aerial vehicle, a drone laden with armaments, she and her team track the presumed ‘guilty’ high above another grey desert half a world away. Half a world, but only 1.2 seconds between her pushing a button, and the obliteration of the mark.

After years of facing the dangers of life in battle, this is safe job. Each time her shift ends, she gets to go home to her husband and daughter. It’s combat without risk to her.

Or is it? Only if she can cope with the daily juxtaposition of the two lives she is living: the safe world of one sandy desert and the other over which she soars as the eye of God in the heavens, as judge and executioner. Her husband begs her to change out of her uniform before she returns home, but more and more she can’t do it. Divisions become less clear, what was sharp is now grey. She is absorbed and repelled by her role, and longs to return to the blue of the sky above that she remembers, away from the grey of the desert below.

Director Alex Bonham, and sole performer Erica Kröger, are both experienced and multi-talented arts practitioners, and together they excel in this production. Erica Kröger as the pilot gives a confident and convincing performance.

The staging is supplemented by some video. More of this would improve the whole, and the timing of the final clip (at least on opening night) could do with adjustment.  

Others involved are Vivian Ngwerume (Video Design), Austin Mason (Lighting Design/Operator), Lauren Andrews (Production Assistant), and Anthony Wong (Graphic Design). 

Overall, this is a very worthwhile play that presents important ideas for reflection and perhaps debate. It’s worth making the effort to get to one of the remaining performances.


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