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The Word

The Word

17 - 26 may 2024
Presented by St Martins at abbotsford convent

‘Every word that healed me, and every word that hurts… my words all drift out of my hands’ 

The Word will be a site-specific, immersive performance, fusing vocal/sound, physical and video scores with text, inside the imposing architecture and symbology of the Abbotsford Convent.  


The collaboration between a diverse group of young people and established artists climbs inside words – written, spoken and dreamt – as vessels for the human urge to know, name, possess, proclaim and control. Anchored by technologies through time, of sounds, languages, pen, printing press, wire, TV and digitisation, The Word erupts from the seam between inner (personal) and outer (political) words and worlds, where young people have been quietly waiting behind masks, walls, and doonas.  


St Martins will create a multidisciplinary, immersive and site-based performance in collaboration with young people that asks who or what controls the words we hear, think, speak and read. The Word obsesses on how truth, lies, propaganda, love and fear are conveyed, injected and sustained within the individual and the herd, and by whom. The technologies of religious text, printing press, tv, computer, phone and the cloud will be under the microscope. The creative team will be comprised of exceptional established artists and young people from the many diverse communities of young people that St Martins’ creative projects have traversed.  


We are excited about this culmination of years of intense, deep and long-term engagement and the integration of our many cultural learnings in various settings. To that end, an ensemble of performers and creative interns will be invited to join a new, next generation cohort. The Word will be created in the Abbotsford Convent North Laundry Room and surrounds. The echoes in the walls of the convent – the suggestion of repetition, ritual, the unspoken, a pervasive machinery in motion, the spectre of an overarching power system, a small person inside a vast architecture, will inspire the work. 

When / 
Friday 17 May, 7.30 – 8.45pm
Saturday 18 May, 7.30 – 8.45pm
Sunday 19 May, 7.30 – 8.45pm
Thursday 23 May, 
7.30 – 8.45pm
Friday 24 May, 
7.30 – 8.45pm
Saturday 25 May, 
7.30 – 8.45pm
Sunday 26 May, 7.
30 – 8.45pm

Location / The Magdalen Laundry, Abbotsford Convent.
1 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford

Accessibility / This performance is wheelchair accessible. 

Auslan interpreted performances / Dates TBC

Relaxed performance and access guide

Cast and Creatives

Performers / The Gene Tree cast comprises 14 young people from Congress, St Martins’ think tank ensemble aged between 11 and 17 years old, and 15 young people from Dandenong Primary School aged between 9 – 12 years old.  

Concept, Composer, Musician / Elissa Goodrich

Director  / Nadja Kostich  

Producer / Lara Week 

Associate Director / Katrina Cornwell 

Set / Nature and Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Lighting / The Sun

Production Design / Emily Barrie and Rachel Burke  

Video Design and Dramaturgy / Michael Carmody  

St Martins collaborating Artists / Amelia Ducker, Nicolette Forte, Maria Theodorakis and Alice Qin

Musicians / Rodrigo Salgado (double bass), Gideon Brazil (woodwinds), Leah Scholes (percussion) and Elissa Goodrich (percussion) 

Production Manager / Rain Iyahen  

Stage Manager / Zsuzsa Gaynor Mihaly  

Technical Manager / Russell Goldsmith

Production Assistant / Millie Levakis-Lucas

Technical Assistant / Giovanna Yate Gonzales
Assistant Stage Manager / Klari Agar
Access Consultants / Artemis Muñoz and Kian Hall

The Word erupts from the seam between inner (personal) and outer (political) words and worlds, where young people have been quietly waiting behind masks, walls, and doonas.