The opening of GROUNDED (German title: AM BODEN) at the Gerhart Hauptmann Theater in Zittau on 29 September 2017, was good for a surprise. Knowing the director, I expected it to be good, of course. What I was not prepared for, however, was its disciplined strictness, however, in which the demanding production goes farther than most other German-language productions of the play. For the duration of uncut ninety-five minutes,
Martha Pohla plays the fighter pilot with extreme concentration, supported only by four light boxes, one jumpsuit, and one cable tie. In the almost painful minimalism of the production, director Dorotty Szalma courageously invests all her confidence in the power of the text. The utmost barrenness does not limit itself to the design: there is no video, no sound (well, almost). Not one single time does Pohla change her standing position or even the pitch of her voice. Even though the intensive tension, the desperation of the character would justify it, the production does not yield to any emotionality. Only her face, only her voice – an enormous challenge foremost for the actress. And all of it fully corresponds to the supposed situation of the pilot in arrest – with the unrelenting sobriety of a military prison cell. Dear people of Zittau, of Görlitz, of Reichenberg/Liberec and everybody: Go see it!
A preview of the show can be seen here.
Direction/Design: Dorotty Szalma
Dramaturgy: Gerhard Herfeldt
Assistant Director/Stage Manager: Uwe Körner
The Pilot: Martha Pohla