Play shines a light into the secretive world of drone pilots

editorial image
Have your say

Grounded, Crucible Studio

Following a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival and Gate Theatre, George Brandt’s award-winning play lands in Sheffield this weekas part of an extensive new international tour.

Winner of the Off West End Theatre Awards’ Best production and Best Set Design 2014 and a Fringe First Award 2013, Grounded is described as “a gripping, compulsive new play that flies from the heights of lyricism to the shallows of workaday existence”.

Theone-woman play, starring Lucy Ellinson as The Pilot, aims to target our assumptions about war, family, and what it is to be a woman.

When a hot-rod F16 fighter pilot becomes pregnant, her career in the sky is over. Having been grounded to an air-conditioned trailer in Las Vegas, she is forced to fly remote-controlled battle drones over the Middle East.

Struggling through surreal 12-hour shifts far from the war zone, fighting terrorists by day and being a wife and mother by night.

“The experience of a drone pilot has, until now, been very secretive,” Lucy Ellinson told The Observer newspaper.

“But because of the real personal courage of drone pilots in the US who started speaking out about it, we’re learning more. This play is part of that conversation.”

She said that she had been in contact with a real drone pilot: “It sounds like a call centre.

“The hours are long, the toilet breaks are designated, the snack machine is a highlight of the day and they’re pretty bored a lot of the time.”

The show runs from tomorrow to Saturday. Box office: at the venue, online at or call 0114 249 6000.