For three short weeks in July 2014, The Nether stunned audiences Downstairs at the Royal Court. An explosively provocative new play, it explored the consequences of a fully technologised future. The play confronted some of our most prescient fears about the modern world, examining one of the only remaining contemporary taboos. It was technically thrilling, pushing the limits of what could be achieved on a traditional stage and inventively attacked the challenge of realising a virtual word in a literal medium. A theatrical hand grenade detonated in Sloane Square and The Nether became a word-of-mouth hit that stunned its audiences.
Week 4 - Rendering
In Week 4, the play becomes whole. Jeremy continues to calibrate the production, but now in its entirety. We stitch the scenes together, pulling out different story threads and weaving in new, darker layers, allowing the extremities in the dramatic shifts to intensify.
Week 3 - hardware/software
There’s a whole host of well-worn analogies for the rehearsal process - painting in various thickness of strokes, weaving a tapestry, conducting a composition - but I’m going to use a Nether-themed image and go with hardware and software. The hardware is the script, the actors, the furniture - all the concrete elements that we’re working with. The software is the intangible results - the ideas, the relationships, the atmospheres, the meanings.
We move to a sunny new rehearsal room in South London and start to create our universe.
A wall of images grows; pictures of pollution, of forests, of life support machines, of Google’s offices, of rocking horses and rows and rows of servers. We are continually trying to project what lies ahead - an even thinner iPad? A foldable iPad? Will Google/Microsoft/Facebook/Visa all join forces to become one company? What would happen if they all blocked you from their services?
The first week is about questions. The first one is easy - what’s your name, and what do you do? The meet and greet - a staple of every rehearsal process’s first day. One by one the members of the circle name themselves.
Vicky Featherstone, artistic director of the Court, and director Jeremy Herrin welcome everyone and we sit for the first read-through. The cast sit around a central table, the creatives form an outer ring, listening, taking notes and adjusting ideas as they now hear the words live. Writer, Jennifer Hailey has arrived straight off the plane from L.A. She is with us for week one for editing, adjustments and insight into the disturbing future world of her play.