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Kansas City Unicorn Theatre premiers one woman show, 'Grounded'

The life and past of an ace fighter pilot come into focus as The Unicorn Theater presents the world premier of a new play by George Brant, Grounded, a one-woman tour de force opportunity for director Cynthia Levin and actress Carla Noack, opening Sat., Jan. 25 with lower priced previews starting Wed., Jan 22.

Executive Artistic Director, Cynthia Levin directs the world premier of "Grounded" about a woman fighter pilot forced into a different lifestyle, featuring Carla Noack in a one-woman show.
Cynthia Levin
"Grounded" makes it's world premier at Kansas City's Unicorn Theatre
Cynthia Levin

An unplanned pregnancy results in the ace pilot’s reassignment from flying to manipulating military drones from a windowless trailer outside Las Vegas. The nature of her job allows her to hunt terrorists by day and then return to a more “civilian” life with her family each night.

Grounded came to the attention of Levin at a 2012 play reading at The Unicorn. The play is part of Rolling World Premier of the National New Play Network.

Carla Noack as the pilot confronts the differences between the American desert where she lives and the one she patrols half a world away.

Grounded is staged in the round on Unicorn Theatre’s Jerome Stage located at 3828 Main Street, Kansas City, MO, 64111.

Performances run Tues., Wed. and Thurs. at 7:30 p.m.; Fri. and Sat. at 8p.m.; and Sun. at 3p.m. Talk back performances, where patrons are encouraged to stay after the show and discuss the play with the actors and director, are scheduled for Jan. 28, Feb. 2 and 4.

Tickets are now on sale. Call 816-531-PLAY (7529) EXT. 10, or online at the website:, or in person at the box office. Special discounts are available for seniors (65+), students and patrons under age 30.

Director, Cynthia Levin continues in her 35th season with Unicorn Theatre where she has served as a director, actor, designer or producer for more than 260 productions. At the Unicorn, she recently directed Venus in Fur, My Name is Asher Lev, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Soul Collector (world premiere), Hungry (world premiere), Red, Two Jews Walk into a War…, Distracted, Green Whales (world premiere), Miss Witherspoon, My First Time, The Clean House, Mauritius, 9 Parts of Desire, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, BatBoy: The Musical and the world premieres of rightnextto me (both at the Unicorn and Geva Theatre Center, Rochester, NY), How His Bride Came to Abraham, Light:Damage, Mercy Killing, Innocent Thoughts and Jack and Jill.

At Coterie Theatre, located in Kansas City’s Crown Center, she has directed Number the Stars, And Then They Came for Me, Frankenstein, Gatherings in Graveyards (I and II), Valley Song and To Kill a Mockingbird.

At the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., she directed world premiere readings of The Friendship of Her Thighs, The Last Pair of Earlies, Tigers Be Still and White Devil, Loving Mother for the MFA Playwright’s Workshop.

Levin is a graduate of Park University which also awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in 2002. She is a founding board member of the National New Play Network, an organization dedicated to the development and production of new works. She has been honored with the Pinnacle Award for Excellence in the Arts from the Johnson County Library Foundation and the Human Rights Campaign Equality Award.

Carla Noack returns to the Unicorn after her stint as Sarah Goodwin in Time Stands Still. Most recently she enjoyed playing Rosalind in the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s As You Like It. She further directed the first-year UMKC MFA students in their successful exploration of Troilus and Cressida.

Prior to moving to Kansas City, she was a co-artistic director of the Commonweal Theatre Company for 10 years and performed as a company member of the Great River Shakespeare Festival.

Other recent credits include the Guthrie Theatre (Theatre Latte Da’s Song of Extinction), the Kansas City Actors Theatre, The Pinter Project, and KC Rep, The Borderland.

Noack earned her MFA from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1992, came back to Kansas City in 1997 to play “C” in Missouri Repertory Theatre’s Three Tall Women, and currently teaches acting in the MFA program at UMKC.

The creative team for Grounded is: Gary Mosby (scenic design), Alex Perry (lighting design), Shannon Smith-Regnier (costume design), Emily Swenson (prop design) and Greg Mackender (Composer/ Sound Design) Michael Heuer (sound design/engineer). Tanya Brown is the Stage Manager, Amanda Boyle is the dramaturg and Chioma Anyanwu and Alex Murphy are the Production Assistants.

Playwright, George Brant’s plays include Elephant’s Graveyard, Grounded, The Mourners’ Bench, Any Other Name, Salvage, Grizzly Mama, Three Voyages of the Lobotomobile, and Dark Room.

A Core Writer at the Playwright’s Center, his scripts have been produced internationally by Trinity Repertory Company, the Studio Theatre, City Theatre, London’s Gate Theatre, Page 73, and the Traverse Theatre, among others. He has received a Kennedy Center National Playwriting Award, the Smith Prize, an Edinburgh Fringe First Award, a Creative Workforce Fellowship, an OAC Individual Excellence Award, and the Keene Prize for Literature.

Brant has been awarded writing fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the McCarter Theatre Center, Blue Mountain Center, the Djerassi Resident Artist’s Program, and the Michener Center for Writers. He is published by Samuel French, Oberon Books and Smith & Kraus. Sponsorship for Grounded is provided by The National New Play Network.

The Unicorn Theatre is at 3828 Main Street Kansas City, MO 64111, and continues its tradition to offer BOLDNEWPLAYS to Kansas City audiences. Tickets are now on sale. Call 816-531-PLAY (7529) EXT. 10, or online at the website:, or in person at the box office

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