We move to a new rehearsal room in sunny South London and start to create our theatrical world in 3D.
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? What state will the environment be in, in the future? How many trees will be left? Will face-to-face interaction be a nostalgic thing of yesteryear? We are explorers of a world that is yet to be.
What is clear about the future depicted in The Nether are the possible consequences of technology now, and how our current legal structures are a slow-moving dinosaur compared to the wild west frontier of online behavior. We spend the week trying to dig into the crevices of this blurry, online no-man’s land.
Scene by scene, we make the leap from page to stage. Stage management mark out a bird’s eye view of the stage in tape on the ground, and incrementally start to feed in props. The actors add detail to their characters’ journeys, discovering how they would move in these spaces and realising the specificity of their relationships. Jeremy calibrates the scenes with a mixture of questions, provocations and direct notes, scribbling thoughts as he goes - all of which fire off new thoughts and directions for the room and together we sculpt a first draft of the staging.
Jennifer has left us to go on an adventure to Paris to see a reading of The Nether in French. Throughout the week she sends us edits - tweaks here and there, new lines inspired by our visiting experts and nods to some of the knottier moments of the plot we have been unpicking. The play’s dramaturgy is rich and robust, so the questions we send often boil down to single words.
The production meeting mid-week is a show-and-tell of fantastic ideas working towards either unifying the aesthetic or clarifying the story-telling. People present their thinking so far, and Es and Jeremy give them thoughts and notes, both practical and conceptual, often working towards either unifying the aesthetic or clarifying the story-telling. Luke Halls shows us some of the early drafts of his video design using snippets filmed in rehearsals combined with animations he’s been creating - they look like the future, and we imagine them projected onto our stage.
Towards the end of the week, actress Amanda Hale sends a link round the cast announcing that Facebook’s recent purchase of virtual reality company Oculus Rift is going to involve re-launching Second Life in a collaboration between the three companies. Mark Zuckerberg releases a statement:
"Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face -- just by putting on goggles in your home… Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.”
We take a collective in-breath as we see The Nether’s future approaching, both on stage and off…