21 May 2014 • by Christopher Haydon
Dear Mr President.It's hugely exciting to be taking Grounded to Washington DC. I can't think of a more appropriate place for this show to go to than the heart of American power. We have various plans to engage with policy makers whilst we are out there but it would seem like a bit of a missed opportunity if we did not at least try to get POTUS himself along. So, call it admirably hopeful or naively hubristic, but I have written the letter below to Obama to see if he will come and see the show. Obviously he won't, but you know - nothing ventured and all that...
Dear Mr President,
I hope this finds you well - congratulations on the recent campaign you have been spearheading against sexual violence. This is such an important issue so it is inspiring to see the White House take a lead on the matter.
I am the Artistic Director of the Gate Theatre in London. We are a small but highly influential theatre that has launched the careers of everyone from Jude Law to Stephen Daldry. I am writing to you because next month we will be bringing one of our most successful recent shows - Grounded by the American playwright George Brant - to the Studio Theatre in Washington DC. It will run from June 10-29.
Grounded is a play about a female fighter pilot who gets retrained to fly UAVs out of Creech Air Force base in Nevada. It is a work of fiction but is nonetheless heavily researched and gives a really remarkable depiction of the life of a drone pilot. The play explores a whole range of issues - but focuses, ultimately, on the psychological impact that flying drones can have on the pilots themselves and also on the wider moral and political issues that arise from this new form of warfare. It is a stunning and powerful bit of writing and has won many awards as a result.
It will probably not surprise you to hear that the show does not present a glowing endorsement of the drone programme. But neither does it reduce the issue to dogmatic and didactic platitudes. It is a very serious work of art that seeks to engage with the subject in a manner that is both profound and complex. By rooting the issue in a clear and comprehensible human story it provides a view of the subject that has been largely overlooked until now.
I would love to invite you to come and see the show. You are, without doubt, the most thoughtful person to hold the Office of the Presidency for many years and whilst I am sure you would not agree with everything the show has to say, I do hope that you would find the challenges it presents to be worthy of serious consideration. Alongside our own production, the play has had several other hugely successful productions across the US in the last 12 months. It is clearly connecting strongly with people all over the country and so I have no doubt that you would find it a valuable and worthwhile experience.
If you were able to come we would, of course, be very pleased to make all the necessary arrangements.