Written by Jennifer Haley
Directed by Dr. Robert Vrtis
Center for the Arts: Jewel Theatre
March 1-4, 2017
If you could live in a world free of consequence, what would you do? In the world of The Nether, the Internet has been replaced by a beautiful virtual world, but this digital paradise hides a dark secret. Bringing into question the definitions of reality and morality, The Nether offers a fresh perspective on the intersection between ethics and the digital age.
It seems very appropriate to me that Jennifer Haley tells this story of virtual reality through one of the oldest forms of virtual reality: the theatre. Actors fabricate an imagined reality to inhabit in to tell a character’s story. The hope is that a vivid imaginative experience will induce an empathetic response in the actor so profound that the actor begins to feel as the character does and, in turn, share that experience with the audience. And so, most actors who have put this kind of effort into their work would agree that virtual experience is no less real for being artificial.
“Real Life” and Virtual Reality are not so distinct as we might believe.
At its best science fiction tells us about our present while it dreams about our future. In a way, it can rehearse for the future too. The dream in The Nether is very close to our present already, so the play asks us to rehearse for a looming present in the hopes that we’ll have answers at the ready even as the questions are forming.