FLYING F-16s over Iraq as a US Air Force pilot is not exactly a career that actor Alison van Reeken can relate to with her character in George Brant’s award-winning solo play Grounded, but wanting to return to work after motherhood is.
“The journey of the play is that she falls pregnant unexpectedly and is then forced to leave the Air Force,” van Reeken said.
“She can’t fly while pregnant and stays at home to look after her baby, but after a few years of that she starts to go stir-crazy and wants to get back to work, which is something I fully understand.
“Her commander tells her things have changed while she was away and she now needs to fly drones, which really upsets her because she’s mad for flying.”
Van Reeken said the remainder of the play, which has been performed on Broadway by Anne Hathaway who bought the rights for a film version, examined what it was to be a drone pilot and how it changed modern warfare.
“It’s a huge moral quagmire; a really different way of going to war and taxing on the pilots,” she said.
“We’ve done a lot of research and without giving anything away, it follows her journey.
“It’s not a complete tragedy though; there are some funny moments in it but it does get pretty dark.”
Van Reeken said she was attracted to the play because she had never performed solo and decided it was time to tackle the challenge.
She has been directed by long-time collaborator Emily McLean, who she and her actor husband Benj D’Addario started independent theatre company Red Ryder Productions with in 2005.
“In a cost-cutting environment, a solo show that doesn’t require a massive spend on set is very appealing,” the mother of two said.
“We secured the rights in 2014 but it took a bit of time to find a moment in the year that suited me, Emily and also Benj, because he was going to be with the kids.”
Where: The Blue Room Theatre
When: September 13 to October 1