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Grounded: motherhood, drones and war

Grounded: motherhood, drones and war

George Brant’s Grounded is a gripping, new, award-winning play coming to the British Science Festival from the Gate Theatre. We caught up with the show’s director Christopher Haydon to find out a little more…

Catch the show at Birmingham Rep Theatre on Saturday 6 September at 7pm. Tickets can be booked here.


Q Tell us about Grounded - the play by George Brant which comes to the British Science Festival next week? What is it about?

CH: It's about drones. It's about being a rock star in a world of grey. It's about colour. It's about motherhood. It's about going to war like it's shift work. It's about surveillance. It's about 60 minutes long.

Q The play was a huge hit at the Edinburgh Festival in 2013, why do you think that is?

CH: It's really exciting - like watching an action movie but performed by a single, remarkable actor. Drones are becoming an increasingly major issue in the news yet very little has been done on this subject artistically, so it is really ahead of the curve politically. Also, it provides a phenomenal role for a female performer and sadly there are still too few of those about.

Q You transferred to Washington DC with this production, what was that experience like?

CH: Amazing. The Studio Theatre were massively supportive and it felt really exciting to be performing it at the epicentre of American power. We invited Obama, but he didn't come sadly. Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund did though. Maybe they are planning on using drones to enforce their Structural Adjustment Policies on impoverished nations? Scary.

Q You're about to embark on an extensive national tour, which opens in Birmingham at the British Science Festival - how do you see this piece relating to the Festival as a whole?

CH: Science and technology are inextricably intertwined. We have this enlightenment idea that scientific progress is an inherent good. Obviously in many ways it is, but that is not always the case. There are plenty of ways in which the discoveries we make can enable us to do things that have a profoundly negative impact on the world. Drones are a frightening technology because they enable powerful nations to fight wars in a manner that has never been possible before. They also fundamentally change the psychology of warfare - allowing people to fight during the day and return home at night, thereby blurring boundaries that were once clearly delineated. And we have no idea what the long-term effects of this will be.

Q What is the future for Grounded?

CH: It is going to do a big UK tour and also go to Sweden, and there is the possibility of further international dates. The main challenge with any show that runs this long is keeping it fresh and, given that it is a solo show, making sure that the performer doesn't go too stir crazy!

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