Here I am, standing backstage at the prestigious Sydney Theatre in Walsh Bay, looking at the production team putting the finishing touches to the set of the much anticipated 'Uncle Vanya' by Chekhov, starring Australia's very own acting legends Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, John Bell and Richard Roxburgh.
I'm extremely impressed by the sheer scale of the wings area. The ceiling must be at least 10 meter high and there's a gigantic set of doors right in front of me, used for the delivery of unusually big pieces of equipment on stage.
I'm surrounded by kilometers of meticulously labelled cables and plugs, a mountain of half-empty paint tins, a random collection of stage props, and roll after roll of plastic films in every colour in the rainbow (the films are used as filters for the on-stage lights).
As I'm shown the way to the make-up and dressing rooms for an exclusive 'behind-the-scenes' sneak peek, I feel like pinching myself - how lucky am I to be here?!
Well actually, everyone was invited along to the party - courtesy of the 2010 Sydney Open (Nov 6-7).
Every two years, Sydney Open - which is part of the Sydney Architecture Festival - celebrates Sydney's rich architectural heritage, with a $40 "City Pass" giving you access to over 50 buildings and sites normally off-limits.
From architectural icons to hidden places, award-winning contemporary designs to much-loved heritage buildings, Sydney Open is a fantastic opportunity to re-discover Sydney's iconic buildings and get a fresh perspective on your own city - becoming a tourist in your hometown for a whole weekend (something that's very dear to my heart).
In addition to the very environment-friendly Sydney Theatre, some of my favourite visits last Sunday included the Sydney Harbour YHA youth hostel in The Rocks (the hostel is built above ‘The Big Dig’, the largest archaeological urban development ever completed in Australia); the beautiful Art Deco State Theatre and the Great Synagogue on Elizabeth Street.
I also really liked the funky American Express building and 30 The Bond near Darling Harbour, and office building precinct that set the standard for environmental design in Australia and encompasses three heritage buildings, the earliest dating from the 1840s.
Coming up: if you've missed out on the Sydney Open this year, you can still get some of the behind-the-scenes action at the fabulous "Open Day at the Wharf" on Sunday, December 5th.
Some of Australia's leading art companies will be throwing open their doors to the public with free forums and acting / singing / dancing workshops, rehearsals and behind-the-scenes tours. The event is FREE but bookings are essential. The full program is available online.
So tell me dear readers, which are your favourite buildings in Sydney - apart from the iconic Opera House of course?