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“The Nether” | Where virtual reality has no boundries

Iris%2C+played+by+Emma+Withers+%28%E2%80%9818%29+marvels+at+the+cake+Mr.+Sims%2C+played+by+Skye+Newcom+%28%E2%80%9818%29%2C+created+for+her.
Iris, played by Emma Withers (‘18) marvels at the cake Mr. Sims, played by Skye Newcom (‘18), created for her.

Iris, played by Emma Withers (‘18) marvels at the cake Mr. Sims, played by Skye Newcom (‘18), created for her.

Photo courtesy of Photography by Brittany

Photo courtesy of Photography by Brittany

Iris, played by Emma Withers (‘18) marvels at the cake Mr. Sims, played by Skye Newcom (‘18), created for her.

Sam Mitchell, Staff Writer

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In a futuristic world,  humanity is slowly replacing reality with “The Nether,” a virtual reality without consequences. The cast and crew performed the play written by Jennifer Haley in Jewel Theatre March 1-4.

Stage manager Elaena Hoekstra (‘17) noted the complexity of a play with two worlds.

“The show is about virtual reality versus the reality that we experience in a day to day life,” Hoekstra said. “Through virtual reality it is much easier for us to lie and therefore much harder to trust people.”

“The Nether” was chosen in part to complement this year’s Paidea theme “Who Do You Trust?” According to Hoekstra, the play fit perfectly with the theme.

“There’s a sense of freedom and maybe trusting too much on the internet,” Hoestra said. “But there’s also the idea that you shouldn’t always trust what’s on the internet.”

The play displays how difficult it can be to negotiate interactions in reality and the virtual system, particularly when actions in the virtual system bear no consequences. According to theatre major Emily Garst (‘18), who played Detective Morris, the cast considered the same dilemmas their respective characters faced regarding right and wrong and who can be trusted.

“There are constant moments of questioning whether or not it’s okay that I trust myself, if I trust who I really am, or even if I trust the information that I give to you or whoever my scene partner might be,” Garst said.

To understand their character roles, the cast used an acting style called the Meisner Technique. The technique involves focusing on the character’s emotions rather than the performer’s own in order to truly understand and become the character while on stage.

According to Theater major Erik Mueterthies (‘18), who played Cedric Doyle, the technique was used for the production to help the dark content of the play seem more real through the actors and the roles they played.

“It became a play that we had to approach gingerly,” Mueterthies said. “We wanted to make sure that [the cast] and the character were separated. You create a truthful parallel to the situation that is fictional in real life, but it is still something that could happen to you. It has to be something emotionally charged enough for you to be able to project your own feelings onto the character that are eventually able to ramp up to an emotional state, and then be able to slip into your character.”

The cast and crew wanted the audience to question their own views on morals and the dominant rise of technology  after viewing the play.

“I hope the audience recognizes some things within themselves,” Garst said. “Things that tell them that they have the potential to do things that we never thought we would be able to do, or things that we might not want to do.” 

Attendee Mitch Gage (‘19) enjoyed the complexity of ethics and consequences in “The Nether.”

“This play, while grappling with such complicated and difficult topics, was a very amazing piece of art that the performers demonstrated very beautifully,” Gage said.

Donations taken at the beginning and end of the show went to the Duluth Trafficking Task Force, an organization created by the ELCA. They help to work against trafficking and prostitution among young women.

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