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BWW Blog: Amanda Grillo - THE NETHER: Creating the World

Upon the embarking of tech week and opening the production, I had the pleasure of talking to two of the people responsible for creating the hideaway and the world of The Nether. I spoke with the sound designer, Alec Smith, and the set designer, Andy Esborn. They allowed me to pick their brains for a little as I learned about their position and their inspirations for this production.

Alec Smith is a senior Music and Sound Recording major here at the University of New Haven. He shared his perspective on something some people may not know in regards to sound design: "Sound design can have just as much to do with storytelling as the other theatrical elements. Discovering the sonic language of the play holds to be most difficult. What does the play sound like? Such a conceptual question could be matched with, how does the play feel? Working out the answers to these questions is the process. I find that sound design involves more conceptual conversation than other design elements." So what does The Nether sound like? Alec went on to enlighten us about his inspiration behind the futuristic world of the play: "Some of the source material that I used for inspiration came from the 1999 film The Matrix and music by Jon Nelson, most notably L'Horloge Imaginaire. I am fascinated with using both synthetic and natural sounds interchangeably." I've noticed, whether it's talking with performers, designers, or directors, as much as they are excited for the entire show, there is a particular element that holds a special place in their hearts as something they are particularly excited for. He expressed an element of his design that stood out to him: "I decided to do this show in 5.1 surround sound. The flexibility surround sound gives me allows me to do exactly what I want in terms of placement and effect. I'm hoping to give the audience a memorable sonic experience." Sound design is a production element like no other; it brings a whole new level to the production.

I also had the joy of speaking with Andy Esborn, a senior Theater major who served on this production as the set designer. One of his favorite elements of the set is the high contrast in the different worlds. "I like the fact that we are doing very stark, boring, plain things for the area of the set that is supposed to take place in the real world. The parts of the set that take place in the Nether are more detailed and colorful. A place you want to be. I think this show is about in the future, the internet is a more desired place than reality. It is already starting to happen. More and more things are being based online and human interaction is becoming less and less common." He went on to explain that in his design concept of the play, "the real world is not the kind of place you want to be hanging out and in the internet, it's so inviting and exciting more so than the real world." Andy continued sharing his opinion on something most people may not realize about being the set designer: "The set designer has to be clear in their choices and explain them as such. People are going to expect answers in a fast paced way. You may think you are being clear, but in the end there may be backlash to come your way if there isn't a clear line of communication." As someone who also has set design experience, I can tell you that Andy couldn't be more right. An open and clear line of communication is the best way to have things done effectively.

Come see The Nether!

Want more info on the show?

The University of New Haven Theater Program Presents:

THE NETHER By Jennifer Haley

Where: Bucknall Theater 300 Boston Post Road, West Haven, CT 06516

When: March 1st-4th @ 8pm

A new virtual wonderland provides total sensory immersion. Just log in, choose an identity and indulge your every whim. But when a young detective uncovers a disturbing brand of entertainment, she triggers a dark battle over technology and human desire. Winner of the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, The Nether is both serpentine crime drama and haunting sci-fi thriller that explores the consequences of living out our private dreams.

TICKETS may be purchased at the door are pay-what-you-will

Photo Credit: Nici Bruno

BWW Blog: Amanda Grillo - THE NETHER: Creating the World
Joshua Lodge as Woodnut and Amanda Cohen as Iris

BWW Blog: Amanda Grillo - THE NETHER: Creating the World
Some of the cast

BWW Blog: Amanda Grillo - THE NETHER: Creating the World
Brianna L'Ecuyer as Morris and Zach Fontanez as Doyle

BWW Blog: Amanda Grillo - THE NETHER: Creating the World
Amanda Cohen as Iris and Greg Pease as Papa/Sims

BWW Blog: Amanda Grillo - THE NETHER: Creating the World
Amanda Cohen as Iris and Greg Pease as Papa/Sims

BWW Blog: Amanda Grillo - THE NETHER: Creating the World
Greg Pease as Papa/Sims and Joshua Lodge as Woodnut

BWW Blog: Amanda Grillo - THE NETHER: Creating the World
Zach Fontanez as Doyle and Brianna L'Ecuyer as Morris

BWW Blog: Amanda Grillo - THE NETHER: Creating the World
Brianna L'Ecuyer as Morris and Greg Pease as Papa/Sims


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