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Theater Emory presents haunting sci-fi thriller 'The Nether'

Theater Emory’s season continues with “The Nether,” written by Jennifer Haley and directed by Ibi Owolabi, with performances Nov. 1-17 in the Theater Lab at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts.

“The Nether” is a virtual wonderland that provides total sensory immersion. Users can log in, choose an identity and indulge their every desire. But when a young detective uncovers a disturbing brand of entertainment, she triggers an interrogation into the darkest corners of the imagination. Winner of the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, “The Nether” is both a serpentine crime drama and haunting sci-fi thriller that explores the consequences of living out our private dreams. This performance includes mature content.

“What drew me to this production was my own experience with the online gaming community,” says Owolabi. “In my vision for the show, I hope to portray the true potential of the virtual world and how it is developing faster than we can put regulations on it. How rules about what happens in the minds of people are hard to define and even harder to enforce, as shown in this play. I hope to illuminate the fascinating dilemma of the world of virtual reality for our audiences, from those who game to people separate from that realm altogether.”

Theater Emory’s production of “The Nether” features an all-professional cast including Thomas Ward, Marcus Durham, Stephanie Escorza, Tsiambwom Akuchu and Devon Hales. Designers include Ryan Bradburn, Alan Yeong, Brent Glenn, Milton Cordero and Kendall Simpson. 

Continuing Theater Emory’s 2019-2020 “fracture reality” theme, “‘The Nether’ questions the way that we define something as ‘real,’ an idea that has fascinated philosophers for millennia,” explains Brent Glenn, artistic director of Theater Emory. “As we approach a time where virtual reality may be as real as our daily lives, a lot of ethical conundrums rise to the surface, some of which make us extremely uncomfortable. ‘The Nether’ forces us to face those questions, that discomfort. It’s a rare play that can have this type of impact in only 75 minutes.”

Performances of “The Nether” are at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 1-2, 6-9 and 13-16, and at 2 p.m. on Nov. 3, 10 and 17. All performances will be in the Theater Lab at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. 

Tickets for “The Nether” are on sale through the Schwartz Center Box Office. For additional information, visit

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