Culture //

Happy haunches

Thomas Sydney St John puts the Uni’s lecture theatres through their paces

The theatre review business is a tough racket, but it’s good money if you can get in on it. Apologies in advance to those readers who perhaps aren’t familiar with the jargon I’ll be deploying in my musings on the LTs of USyd (LT is short for lecture theatre), but this isn’t the economy or identity politics – that is to say not the kind of article your correspondent can afford to over-simplify. 

Eastern Ave LT

Wowsers. What a start. I haven’t been here since first semester, first year, and never thought I’d ever be critiquing a theatre as highbrow as this. Its faux wooden wall panels make me feel like I’m at the Hilton or the Intercontinental or some classy place like that. The “downy ledges” (the industry term for what are commonly referred to as “stairs”) are the perfect awkward distance apart – take two steps on each level and you look like you’re constipated, take one step on each level and you look like Yao Ming walking through a Playschool mosh pit.

But I’m gonna have to dock points for the fact that it’s housed in a building so square a 50s greaser once tried to pull a pen knife on it (yes, I am proud of that joke, and no, you can’t borrow it).

Rating: 7 out of 10

Any Room in the Quad

What’s going on here? The crown jewel of the University has slinked away from the warm embrace of the ergonomic revolution, instead opting for the straight line wooden pews thought up in a Catholic School fever dream.

Seriously, I don’t know why anaesthetists still have a job – just send surgical patients here for a half-hour, make them listen to someone drone on about teleology, and their bodies will be number than anything any organic compound could ever achieve. The desks themselves have seething remarks seared into their wooden membrane, etched by prisoners of a never-ending hellscape of waffling lecturers. Remarks include “ASIAN STUDIES 101 IS A FUCKING CROCK”, a pretty drawing of a bonsai tree signed by “THE FART”, and Adam who, in 2003, proclaimed himself the “God of the Backseat”. I kneel at the altar of Adam, and stumble with unbridled delight back into the sun of the Quad.

Each room has very high ceilings, which is good because this is where the philosophy department is located, and the hot air needs to go somewhere (oh yes, yes I went there).

Rating: 3 out of 10


Hey Wallace Lecture Theatre! Eastern Avenue Lecture Theatre called, they want their everything back.

Rating: Melania Trump out of 10

New Law LT (that is short for Lecture Theatre)

Oh yeah, now it’s obvious where students’ taxes go, and where people can learn how to not pay taxes. The New Law Lecture Theatre is decked out with the latest in LT (once more, LT is short for Lecture Theatre, please keep up guys) technology. Oblique wood panelling, spotlights for superstar guest lecturers, projectors that never work, more wood panelling – this time on the backs of chairs, powerpoints that never work. You dream it, they kind-of-execute it in a pragmatic but disappointing way. Just like real lawyers!

If you can handle the fact that there is a high likelihood someone next to you is going to spill a three-quarter Arabian Mocha skim ristretto from Taste onto your swingy-desk (this is the technical term we use in the LT business. We have other technical terms too – like LT, which is short for Lecture Theatre), then you’re ready to go.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Charles Perkins Centre Auditorium

The CPC was reportedly inspired by the design of the Guggenheim in New York, but I think it’s more likely the architect who designed it dreamt that he’d visited the Guggenheim after dropping some acid. Although from the outside, the building looks like it was dishonourably discharged from MoCA, inside, its main auditorium looks like it has some promise.

Red polyester chairs designed for both pseudo-comfort and extreme flammability? Check. High podium for sweating immunobiologists to hide behind while they squeak? Check. Layers on layers of rolling whiteboards so that professors can reenact their Good Will Hunting fetishes? Damn check. Ultimately though, the CPC Lecture Theatre was docked considerable points after I got stuck on an MC Escher stairway loop and it took me half an hour to exit the premises, and that was only after Leo Di Caprio gave me a metal dreidel and then threw himself into the abyss as human sacrifice.

Rating: ¿• out of •?