Absolutely Relative

October 28, 2013

AR editor Michael Holt wrote a theatre script in New York City and has since transitioned it to be incorporated as part of Sydney Architecture Festival 2013. Its premiere is only a matter of days away.

Absolutely Relative – staged as part of Sydney Architecture Festival 2013 in Paddington Reservoir Gardens – promises to be a theatrical performance like no other. The setting of the former reservoir is an opportunity to take in an architectural gem; a forgotten space sunken below grade is in effect a pseudo-amphitheatre. The mystery of the architectural space, subtly renovated by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer with JMD Design and the City of Sydney in 2010 is both alluring and intriguing.

The project won the National Award for Heritage at the AIA’s 2010 National Architecture Awards, and the fact that the ‘inhabited ruins’ are to play host to a theatrical performance is nothing short of fascinating. The performance is based on the idea of flux, a return to the past in its metaphorical 1972 context, and a subsequent nod towards contemporary practice in the lead female character’s (Irene Carmichael, played by Sophie Fairweather) role. The play posits that architectural discourse may have endured its own ruinous period, and where Modern (Lewis Syzmanowski, played by Rowan Freeman) or Postmodern (Frankie Caruso, played by Jarrod Crellin) generations had strong ideological positions and statements based on manifestoes, the contemporary profession relies solely on a brief that is responsive to regulatory measures as opposed to informed critical comment on typologies or aesthetics. It is the overbearing presence that becomes the characterization for the central character, Herb Hausmann, played by Panda Likoudis.



It is not a performance about architecture per se, but rather it is a performance in architectural space. A subliminal subtext is there to be understood by the informed architectural audience member, but the script’s narrative is not a statement on architecture only to be understood by a select band. It is a story about one game and three players, in one ‘room’. A curious backdrop meets a intriguing plotline. As for the promotional outline notes: ‘Is it a game of chance? Does fate rest in someone’s hands? Is fate of its own making or yours? Instead, this is the collective struggle of individuals who together begin to forge a possible way of leveraging a position and changing course.’ As audience members, complicit to the game by simply being there, we will conceivably become witnesses to the events, the script and the space.

The performance runs on Saturday 2nd November or Saturday 9th November, both starting at 8pm. Tickets are available here.

One gun, one bullet, one victor.

Win tickets

To go into the draw to win two free tickets just answer this easy question: One of Absolutely Relative’s characters, Frankie Caruso, is named after two famous architects who both share the name ‘Frank’, can you name them? Email your answers to Michael Holt.

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