The stage for “Grounded” is seen inside of the Kenai Performers’ black box theatre on Monday, March 15, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

The stage for “Grounded” is seen inside of the Kenai Performers’ black box theatre on Monday, March 15, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

‘Alone in the blue’: Kenai Performers’ one-woman show “Grounded” takes flight Friday

A single chair and one spotlighted actor will tell a story of feminism, war and family beginning this weekend in the Kenai Performers’ production of “Grounded.”

Written by George Brant, the 75-minute, one-woman show follows a fighter pilot, known only as “The Pilot,” who is reassigned to operate drones after she becomes pregnant.

The production is the effort of three women — director Rebecca Gilman, lead actress AnnMarie Rudstrom and stage manager Hannah Tauriainen. Gilman first read the play in college and was intrigued by an off-Broadway performance of the show, starring Anne Hathaway as the “The Pilot.”

“I was just like, oh, that’s interesting,” Gilman said. “It’s a one-woman show about a pilot, that sounds cool. … I read [it] and I just kind of fell in love with it.”

Rudstrom, who plays “The Pilot” in the Kenai Performers’ adaptation, said taking on the lead role was daunting.

“I have 90 minutes to memorize [and] 60 pages straight, which has been the scariest, most overwhelming, mentally challenging thing I’ve ever done,” Rudstrom said. “I just described it as, like, this elephant that I need to eat but I don’t know where to start.”

“One bite at a time,” Gilman joked.

Gilman knew she wanted Rudstrom to play “The Pilot.” The two first worked together when Gilman directed the Kenai Performers’ adaptation of “The Crucible” and have been “joined at the hip” ever since, she said. Gilman and Rudstrom will also work together for the group’s upcoming performance of “Little Women.”

Rudstrom said that while she loved the script the first time she read it, the subject matter is outside her comfort zone.

“It took a while for me to be comfortable with the content of the script,” Rudstrom said. “It is edgy and modern and it’s not really how I behave in my regular life. I was a little nervous about it, but the story is so compelling and I felt like her story needed to be told. … She’s such a strong woman and I couldn’t get it out of my head.“

Gilman said that while the play addresses contemporary warfare strategies, she doesn’t view the play as anti-military and thinks people will be able to relate to The Pilot’s social isolation after a year of quarantining due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think people are gonna have a lot of different opinions after seeing this,” Gilman said. “I think it’s going to affect different people in different ways, which good art should do.”

One of the perks of having such a small ensemble, Gilman said, is that COVID-19 mitigation is easier. Gilman, Rudstrom and Tauriainen have all received the COVID-19 vaccine, though Gilman said they still plan to take a rapid COVID test prior to showtime. A small cohort also means the group can host more in-person audience members — up to 50 people per show. In-person audience members will be required to wear masks and will have their temperature taken at the door.

“Grounded” opens this Friday and will have additional performances on March 20, 26 and 27, all at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at kenaiperformers.org/buy-tickets and will not be sold at the door. People who do not wish to attend the show in person can also attend via a video-on-demand option, which Gilman said works similar to other streaming rentals. People will be able to rent a recorded performance and will have 48 hours to view it once they hit “play.” People can rent the video while the show is running, or between March 19 and March 28.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

Hannah Tauriainen (left) and Rebecca Gilman prepare for a rehearsal of “Grounded” on Monday, March 15, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Hannah Tauriainen (left) and Rebecca Gilman prepare for a rehearsal of “Grounded” on Monday, March 15, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

AnnMarie Rudstrom portrays The Pilot during a rehearsal of "Grounded" at the Kenai Performers' black box theater on Monday, March 15 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Hannah Tauriainen (left) and Rebecca Gilman prepare for a rehearsal of “Grounded” on Monday, March 15, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

AnnMarie Rudstrom portrays The Pilot during a rehearsal of “Grounded” at the Kenai Performers’ black box theater on Monday, March 15, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

AnnMarie Rudstrom portrays The Pilot during a rehearsal of “Grounded” at the Kenai Performers’ black box theater on Monday, March 15, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

More in News

The sign in front of the Homer Electric Association building in Kenai, Alaska as seen on April 1, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Homer Electric to issue over $2M in capital credits

Around 16,000 people who were HEA members in 1989 and 1990 will receive a credit on their May energy bill statement.

Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, holds a press in front of the doors to the Senate chambers on Thursday, March 4, 2021. Reinbold called the conference to respond to a letter from Gov. Mike Dunleavy saying he would no longer participate with her as chair of the Senate Judicairy Committee. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
State Senate removes Lora Reinbold as judiciary committee chair

The committee change was approved 17-1, with Reinbold the lone no.

Ashlyn O’Hara / Peninsula Clarion
Kelly Tshibaka addresses members of the community at Nikiski Hardware & Supply on April 9 in Nikiski.
Tshibaka reports financial support from peninsula residents

Tshibaka has raised nearly $215,000 for her campaign since the beginning of this year in total receipts.

The RavnAir kiosk stands empty at the Kenai Airport on Thursday, April 2, 2020. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Council to mull potential Kenai air carrier

Rambler Air would join Grant Aviation and Ravn Alaska in offering scheduled service between Kenai and Anchorage.

In this undated photo provided by the Tanana Chiefs Conference, shows PJ Simon, chief and chairman of the conference, from Fairbanks, Alaska, displaying a COVID-19 vaccination sticker. Alaska has been one of the leading states in the percentage of its population to be vaccinated against COVID-19. But some of Alaska’s highest vaccination rates have been in some of its most remote, hardest-to-access communities, where the toll of past flu or tuberculosis outbreaks hasn’t been forgotten. (Rachel Saylor/Tanana Chiefs Conference via AP)
Alaska tribal health groups distribute vaccine far and wide

“We live for our children. We want to bring that sense of normalcy back in our lives.”

In this June 20, 2019, file photo, the Supreme Court is seen in Washington as a storm rolls in. The Supreme Court seems inclined to say that hundreds of millions of dollars in coronavirus relief money tied up by a court case should benefit Alaska Natives, rather than be spread more broadly among Native American tribes.The justices were hearing arguments April 19, 2021, in a case involving the massive pandemic relief package passed last year and signed into law by then-President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Court seems ready to send virus funds to Alaska Natives

The federal government set aside more than $530 million for the so-called ANCs.

A vial of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is seen at Central Emergency Services Station 1 on Friday, Dec. 18 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska hits 40% fully vaccinated

In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 35.3% of Alaskans 16 and up are fully vaccinated.

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge headquarters in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Wildlife refuge to host spring cleanup

On April 30 and May 1, volunteers will help collect any litter or debris at the refuge that’s been covered by snow all winter.

Logo for Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles (doa.alaska.gov)
Seward DMV loses both employees, closes temporarily

The two employees worked within the city and are the only ones trained to operate the DMV.

Most Read