Emily Havea takes centre stage in the award-winning, one-woman play ‘Grounded’ (National Theatre Of Parramatta) at Riverside Theatres.
The psychological thriller tells the story of a female fighter pilot forced by an unexpected pregnancy to abandon the life she revels in as one of the guys. Instead, she is shunted to operating drones from the Las Vegas desert – delivering death remotely at the push of a button by day, and dealing with domesticity by night.
Since its premiere in 2013, George Brant’s ‘Grounded’ has gripped audiences around the world, been translated into twelve languages, and garnered a clutch of awards. A screenplay featuring the star of its New York production, Anne Hathaway, is currently in development.
It opens this March in Parramatta, directed by Dom Mercer. He knew he wanted Emily Havea, recognisable from her television work in ‘Sisters’ and ‘Wentworth’, in the role. She says, “He asked me and I said ‘yes, thank you universe’. Dom is an absolute delight of a human being.”
The two met when he directed Emily’s second year show during her training at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). She continues, “Dom handled us as growing young actors beautifully. I had so much respect for him from that experience. So when he asked me to do ‘Grounded’ I was so humbled and honoured.”
The 27-year-old is “both terrified and excited” at the prospect of single-handedly holding the stage. “Getting sick is not an option. Or forgetting your lines and flailing! As an actor, you have nightmares about that stuff.”
Emily’s most recent work, penning and performing ‘Brown Skin’ in Sydney will stand her in good stead. “It was me and two other women [Angela Sullen and Ayeesha Ash], giving monologues about our upbringing and being a woman of colour. I’ve had a really good kick start to it just being me on stage for 80 minutes.”
That experience helped her get match-fit. “I've developed a good self-care model. I have a good meal. I meditate or shake off whatever the day brought me emotionally; settle myself down so I can give everything when the curtain goes up.”
The multi-talented performer confesses she likes “to mix it up”. When not acting, she dances, sings, and teaches drama and aerobics (“I’m Jane Fonda 2.0!”). “I can fall prey to doing too much at once so I'm really trying to keep an eye out because there will literally be no rest from this.”
She continues, “This show I really want to make sure I take the time for me to just do acting. In other shows you have time between the scenes to gather yourself. I'm not going to have that privilege anymore.”
Her portfolio career results from the disillusion she felt with the acting industry after graduating from NIDA. Emily admits, “I put a lot of pressure on myself to be an actor and it didn't make me feel very good. I got to a point where I was like 'ugh just do something that makes you happy’. I decided to have a good time. Then acting became fun again as well. You get caught up with the business of it all but at the end of the day we do this to have fun.”
Fun aside, Emily relishes a role she can sink her teeth into. “My dream role would be Hilary Swank’s in ‘Million Dollar Baby’ or Charlize Theron’s in ‘Monster’. I want to do the super pretty, super ugly thing. I love the contradiction of that.”
“I want a physically and emotionally challenging role. Let's go! I want the challenge.”
‘Grounded’ plays Riverside Theatres, 14-23 March.