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One-woman play is significant and commanding

Samantha Chung performs in GROUNDED, the story of a female Air Force pilot who must learn to navigate the intersection of war and home life. Photo credit: Brett Carr

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GROUNDED is about coming down from the blue sky and into a drone's grey image on a computer screen. It is characterized by powerful and questioning dialogue from a chair on a stage that narrates a war that is very recent.

A compelling one-woman presentation written by George Brant and produced by Tacoma Arts Live's Regional Theater and presented at Tacoma's Theater on the Square, GROUNDED revolves around a female F-16 pilot in a male-dominated Air Force who loves AC/DC songs and flying combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan.

Her life and career hit turbulence when she returns from maternity leave and discovers that she has been grounded and reassigned to the "Chair Force" to pilot drones over Afghanistan hunting for terrorists from a safe, Nevada-based windowless trailer in the desert.

"It is significant without hyperbole that connotes revelatory, meaningful, evocative, expressive and eloquence," wrote Brett Carr, the director of GROUNDED.

From the cockpit of a F-16 flying over the desert she never saw the effects of the missiles she fired; however, from a chair in the trailer in another desert she witnesses the results of drone strikes.

The experiences are starkly different - the gray images on the computer screen are nothing like the blue sky she once flew through.

"You are the blue," she recalls from her flying days, but in the trailer she stares for hours "at a world carved out of putty."

She is well aware of the fact that she can return each night to the suburban home she shares with her husband and young daughter, but in doing so she is also aware of the psychological strain she feels.

GROUNDED is a powerful play that soars from the heights of lyricism to the shallows of everyday existence as it hunts down and targets our assumptions about war and family. It begins with a confident voice; it ends in near silence.

It is presently being performed by Samantha Chung in her acting debut with Tacoma Arts Live on the cusp of Black History Month and Women's History Month.

"This is a script which engages what it means to lead and be lead, what it means to respect command, to experience the bullheaded nature of grief and trauma from a deeply personal perspective," wrote Amanda Rae, Tacoma Arts Live's Company Manager.

"The performance by Samantha Chung grips you from the first minute and holds you tightly until the very last."

Tacoma's Theater on the Square is located at 901 Broadway Plaza, Tacoma.  Scheduled performances are on Saturday, Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 27 at 3 p.m.; Friday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, March 6 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $12, $19, $29, and $39.  

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