ETHER is my play about state surveillance, self-censorship, and a world where we are complicit in allowing every detail of our lives to be scrutinised online.
In an imagined near-future world, maintaining an online profile has become obligatory for everyone who wants to be accepted by society. Profiles now serve as an online database of every conceivable piece of information about a person, from their shopping habits to their physical whereabouts at any time – and of course people still add their own personal updates too to constantly project the right impression. Everyone can see everything about everyone, and if you have nothing to hide why would you care? Police, employers, landlords, tax inspectors… all authority figures use people’s profiles to determine how far each individual can be allowed to progress in life, and who should be rejected or have their freedoms curtailed. Mark, an unremarkable office worker, has tried to put his drug-taking past beside him and cultivate a normal life, but a chance encounter with a mysterious drifter who apparently manages to live “off-grid” – off-line, untraceable, unencumbered, free – throws his life into disarray as she tempts him to leave his life for one of radical rootlessness and personal freedom. He faces a profound moral dilemma when it transpires he might do more good by staying and slowly defeating the system from within; but his own sanity might be the cost…
A scene from ETHER was performed at Stage to Page at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow in June 2016. The play was one of 65 scripts to reach second read stage at the Bush Theatre, out of nearly 700 submissions. Submitted as a sample of work, it led to me being one of 9 writers longlisted for the Tron Theatre's Mayfesto residency opportunity in autumn 2018, out of 132 entries. It has also received interest from Theatre503.
ETHER is in ongoing development.