Grounded at Riverside Theatres
Fact and fiction begin to blur for a female fighter pilot in this psychological thriller. Grounded delivers a nail-biting climax as the pilot’s state of mind unravels in a fast-moving world, technology speeding into the future unchecked.
Carly spoke with actor Emily Havea about this exciting production, the experience of performing a solo work and what it's like working with such unique text. Read the full interview below:
When did you first come about Grounded and what was it that attracted you to the text?
I was lucky enough to be asked to do this production! Dom came across it and thought the character would suit me and after reading the script, I was pretty blown away. It’s a stunning piece of writing and the opportunity to play such a complex character is a dream.
What have you learnt from taking on the role of the pilot?
That I’m capable. The idea of standing onstage alone for 80 minutes was daunting to say the least leading up to the project beginning but now that we’re in it, I’m feeling very comfortable. I think the beauty of playing a character who’s at the top of her field is that, as an actor, I get to inhabit and embody that feeling and I’m definitely drawing my own power from that.
Why do you feel that her story is one so important for audiences to hear and what do you think the benefit of telling the female military story is to the conversation about sacrifice, war, and the military?
As a society, we know the male version of this character inside and out; Top Gun, Hurt Locker -the list is endless. I think it’s time we centralise and normalise these narratives from a female perspective whilst also honouring the gender specific factors.
What in your own life have you been able to draw on to inform your process in developing this character and how has it guided you through the drastic changes that your character in the play continuously experiences?
Something that really resonates with me in this piece is the conflict between becoming a mother unexpectedly and pursuing a career that you love and is a part of your identity. That’s not a decision I’ve had to make before but as a woman, I can empathise with deeply.
How do you begin this process of characterisation?
The script informs me first. The words on the page indicate thought patterns, opinions, beliefs, biases and then I think about context; Where is she? How long has she been doing this job? What time period are we living in? I’m also a very physical performer so once the text analysis is done, I get up on my feet and try to find her physical mannerisms and bring them to life.
Have you faced any hurdles in connecting with this character and if so, how have you tried to overcome them?
This character is far more brittle than I am. She has a tendency to suppress her emotions and I am a very expressive human so Dom and I often talk about putting a lid on my Emily-isms. Sometimes I can feel that an impulse doesn’t fit the character but the beauty of having a director is that Dom is able to shape and curb my choices to fit the world.
The text itself is incredibly textured – there are layers of depth to your character and the playwright, George Brandt, offers some very clever and quite unique writing for this type of one woman play. What has the text been like to work with and how have your rehearsals differed in putting together this one woman show?
It’s a stunning piece of writing. I feel very lucky as an actor as the text does most of the work for me! My job is to just bring truth to the words! The thoughts are so clear on the page that the story comes alive in me as soon as I speak it out aloud. Rehearsing a solo show, there’s really no time to chill! In every other rehearsal room I’ve ever been in, there’s a moment to switch off whilst the director works with the other actors. So this process is demanding a lot of me!
What are the hardest parts of the form and what is the most exciting part?
They’re one and the same. Holding an audiences attention alone with no other actor to bounce off is a terrifying and thrilling opportunity.
What do you hope that audiences walk away from this show thinking about?
I think that audiences will walk away with an appreciation of how difficult it is to balance being a mother, a partner and a military weapon and an empathy for the ptsd that’s bound to arise as those worlds get closer together.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
I saw Counting and Cracking at Sydney Festival recently and I was blown away.
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Dream role to perform?
Haven’t found it yet!
Plays, musicals or operas?
Curveball, plays with songs. Note there’s a difference between that and musicals.
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
What’s next for you after this show?
Writing my own work!
Grounded opens March 16 2019 at Riverside Theatres in Parramatta. You can get your tickets here.