Doco on the house

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - SHOWS -

House’s farewell con­cert, Nel­son Man­dela’s 1990 Syd­ney speech and an in­ter­view with Mark Hamill from Star Wars are among 24 hours of ma­te­rial which forms part of a mul­ti­me­dia on­line doc­u­men­tary on the back­ground of the Syd­ney Opera House. The in­ter­ac­tive doco, which has gone live, came about when the Opera House trust asked the ABC to make some­thing that sums up this iconic build­ing. ABC in­no­va­tion cre­ative di­rec­tor Sam Doust, who headed the project and wrote the 18,000 word script nar­rated by ac­tor Lucy Bell, de­scribes it as an ‘‘im­mense story’’. From day one, the story was con­tro­ver­sial. In 1956 the NSW government called an in­ter­na­tional de­sign com­pe­ti­tion and ap­pointed an in­de­pen­dent jury. Dan­ish ar­chi­tect Jorn Ut­zon won. ‘‘When they saw the win­ner they gasped at the mod­ernism in­volved,’’ Doust says. The NSW pre­mier at the time, Joe Cahill, be­lieved Syd­ney would not be taken se­ri­ously on the world stage with­out a proper opera house. The de­sign so­lu­tion and con­struc­tion of the shell struc­ture took eight years to com­plete – one of the most dif­fi­cult en­gi­neer­ing tasks ever at­tempted – and the devel­op­ment of the spe­cial ce­ramic tiles for the shells took more than three years. But af­ter cost over­runs – de­spite the Opera House Lot­tery that raised more than $102 mil­lion – com­mu­nity crit­i­cism and a change of government in 1966, Ut­zon re­signed. Peter Hall sup­ported by Lionel Todd and David Lit­tle­more in con­junc­tion with the then NSW government ar­chi­tect, Ted Farmer, com­pleted the glass walls and in­te­ri­ors in­clud­ing adding three un­planned venues un­der­neath the Con­cert Hall on the west­ern side. The build­ing was fi­nally opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973. Doust says af­ter this, there was an­other story to tell, that of 40 years of per­for­mance and events, which he has shown through archival footage and more than 70 in­ter­views. Part of the doco is the in­dige­nous his­tory of the site, Ben­ne­long Point, which at the time of the build­ing was the Fort Mac­quarie Tram De­pot. The multi-plat­form nar­ra­tive doco also uses in­ter­ac­tive 3D map­ping, video and au­dio­vi­sual. It can be streamed free to PC, tablet, lap­top or smart phone.

To view the mul­ti­me­dia package, visit the­op­er­a­house­pro­ject.com

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