George Brant's Military Drama Grounded Wins Smith Prize

By Adam Hetrick
May 7, 2012

George Brant's solo play Grounded, which centers on a F16 fighter pilot whose unexpected pregnancy changes the course of her military career, has been named the 2012 winner of the Smith Prize.



The National New Play Network administers the annual honor that recognizes outstanding achievement in plays focusing on American politics. A $5,000 prize is split between the playwright and the first NNPN member theatre to produce the new play.

Grounded will receive a June 8 staged reading at NNPN's annual conference at Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City, MO, under the direction of Cynthia Levin. Additional development of Grounded will take place at the New Harmony Project and the Bay Area Playwrights Festival.

"I'm honored and thrilled to be this year's Smith Prize winner, and grateful for the vote of confidence in Grounded from the National New Play Network," Brant said in a statement. "With its generous matching award, the Prize will hopefully launch the play into the world, where it may raise public dialogue and awareness of our expanded use of drone warfare and its implications."

Here's how Grounded is billed: "Seamlessly blending the personal and the political, Grounded tells the story of a hot-rod F16 fighter pilot whose unexpected pregnancy ends her career in the sky. Repurposed to flying remote-controlled drones in Afghanistan from an air-conditioned trailer near Vegas, the Pilot struggles through surreal twelve-hour shifts far from the battlefield, hunting terrorists by day and being a wife and mother by night. A tour de force play for one actress, Grounded flies from the heights of lyricism to the shallows of workaday existence, targeting our assumptions about war, family, and the power of storytelling."

Grant's plays also include Elephant's Graveyard, The Mourners' Bench, Any Other Name, Grizzly Mama, Salvage, Three Voyages of the Lobotomobile, Defiant, Good on Paper and Dark Room.

The finalist plays included The Feast by Tony Fiorentino, The Harassment of Iris Malloy by Zak Berkman, The Miners by Josh Billig, Warrior Class by Kenneth Lin and The Wind Farmer by Dan O'Neil.