Grounded in the text
29 March 2018
Charles Pidgeon wants to congratulate Grounded for its directorial text work
The script of Grounded by George Brant is a powerful and intricate text. It's character driven, yet with a scope that is as farsighted as the drone’s "Eye in the Sky". Lion Theatre Company’s production of the show is, in my opinion, a success. It tells the story with honesty and bold simplicity. Everyone I have spoken to has universally affirmed that Steph Sarratt’s performance is nothing short of incredible. She deserves every bit of praise, and she has my complete admiration. However, I was disappointed to see Sarratt’s performance discussed as a fixed component: as if she somehow is that performance, as if she arrived at the rehearsal room with a complete, nuanced and powerful reading of a difficult script.
The isolation of script interpretation as actorial, and staging/technical decisions as directorial, refuses to acknowledge the truth of the rehearsal process: that good text-work is messy, difficult and above all collaborative. As such, I think reducing discussion of Qasim Salam’s direction to discussion of lights and set unfairly overlooks the contribution a director brings to scriptwork in rehearsal.
In the flurry of more and more devised, actor-written, or tech-heavy pieces, there is a certain gumption in tackling Grounded with such simplicity: character-driven, text-driven, story-driven. Such a decision affirms an astounding trust in the work that has been chosen and the casting decisions. Salam should be congratulated for having such trust. We need to remember that these are, in fact, decisions. That this is not passive directing: that emphasising character and text work can in many ways be more difficult and terrifying than introducing flashy conceits. In essence, this production of Grounded had beautiful and considered script work, and I think we should be careful in ascribing this work to an individual rather than to the production as a whole. I congratulate Sarratt and Salam for their deftness in tackling such an intimidating, yet incredible script.
Photo credit: Giulia Delprato