PLAY was composed of four main parts, each one corresponding to a specific conceptual move or gesture. The four parts were separated by a small interlude, during which an excerpt of Vespers' text-score was projected on the wall as it was performed aloud. The audience could hear this sound scattered throughout the annex’s rooms (listen on Lucier's page).

On arrival, a red line taped to the floor guided the audience along the corridors of the main PEC building, ending at the squash annex where the performance was to take place. On entering the squash annex, the audience members were briefed on choosing where to sit and told that this decision would affect their experience of the performance. The performance would take place in the different spaces continuously, but they would only be able to experience it from one of the two squash courts.


As a first hint of the idea of division, the audience was put in a situation in which sound transcended the physical separation engendered by the architecture. 


Having brought the attention to the present room, the live squash game began.

... which re-configured the game. The players, each positioned in a different court, then started to play symmetrically through listening out for the other’s movements.

The red line started to change the rules of the game by reconfiguring the zone structures of the court...

While the audience was being seated, the rooms were dark, and Vespers could already be heard. When the audience was ready, the first excerpt of the text-score was projected on the wall.

We then exposed the formal attributes of the space through drawings that demonstrated the ambivalence between the representation of the space and how it is experienced. 


Part 1

From a general squash court to this particular one

(from an abstract representation to the concrete present space).

Part 1

The Performance


Part 3

Part 4

Part 2

As the audience watched the brass band playing in the film, the real brass band started playing in the backcourts of the squash annex. The film faded out and the lights of the space were turned on, revealing the real presence of the musicians.


In playing harmonies built up from the acoustic signature of the squash courts, the brass ensemble connects outside with inside, in a crossfade between these two spaces and two moments in time. Where the line led us outside earlier, the sound of the ensemble brought us back inside. 

In part three, the still images of the line inside the building gave place to a film that moved further to show the line leading to the outside of the building. This film, again by Richard O’Sullivan, took the audience on a virtual walk through the surroundings of the squash building, placing it in a wider context. 


In the film, the journey ends on the bandstand, located nearby in the Botanic Gardens surrounding the PEC, where a brass ensemble is playing. 


Part 3

From inside to outside.

Part 4

Play ball.

Here all the elements are brought together.


Firstly, the squash players continued playing, each in their own court. As the ball hit the wall, onto which so many ideas have already been projected, the impact sounds triggered a longer resonance, a sound composed of a mixture of brass ensemble and voices resonating in the courts. 

Part two started with an audio-visual version of Alvin Lucier's I am sitting in a room (watch video on Lucier's page) to explore multiple layers of the site. This nesting process produced a drone sound from the acoustic signature of the space. The drone became the thread that guided the audience through a reading of the site beyond its walls, reinforcing a shared understanding of place. 

Part 2

Moving through time. To the past and back.

After ‘breaking the wall’, archive images from several sources were projected onto the space, showing the construction of the building prior to the Ulster '71 exhibition.

The brass players started to play in dialogue with the squash players. They explored the sound and musical qualities of the space, now embedded in a wider contextual frame. 


This is one of the pictures used in this section. It was found during our research period, and revealed a nice little story: 



"Unfortunately bad weather deterred a lot of people from attending the Brass Band Cavalcade in the Ulster '71 stadium. So, for her endurance of the bad conditions, six-year old Linda Bell, of Sunnyside Park, had her own reward at the interval. 14/8/1971" [11]

The images show a few examples of the scores (click to view)

The musicians explored the acoustic possibilities of this improbable combination — brass instruments and squash courts — in a playful way, using game strategies to improvise indifferent situations. 

After this journey to the history of the site, in which forgotten memories of its political contours were reanimated, the video projection changed to show a new perspective of the space. This section introduced a series of photographs presenting various perspectives of the squash annex, including areas the audience had no access to. These photographs previously taken by ourselves, included the red line tape as an integral element of the space. The line of tape, much like the sound, continued to guide the audience’s perception through the space.

The image was inverted as the squash players moved to the backcourts and the brass ensemble moved to the frontcourts.


The squash court became a cinema room, a concert hall, and a memory hall. The event gradually changed the architecture because it changed what happened in it: its sounds, its use, and the collective memories of its history. 

The scores written for the brass ensemble were composed as a parallel to the squash game. They consist of a set of short ‘games’ with different rules: some were based on ideas derived from squash, while others evoked the impact of the ball against the wall or the racquet, and the long resonance of that particular space. The strategies designed in the score created the space for the players to experiment, share decisions, and react to each other, engaging in a playful game in which there are no winners or losers.


As the piece continued, the musicians started to move in the space.



PLAY ended with the culmination of Vespers. This time the text was blurred before slowly coming into focus, mimicking the sonic process. At the same time, the drone that had been filling the space also began to ‘gain focus’, as a voice reading Vespers' text-score emerged. This is the inverse linear process of I am sitting in a room. Part four brought all of these kindred works together.