CTMT 2010: A Peek behind the Scenes

With only a few days to go before the Opening Night performance of the Cape Town Military Tattoo 2010, the preparations at the Castle are in full swing.

This is how the front courtyard at the Castle usually looks in the early evening – a big open space

This year, I have been allowed to peek behind the curtain and to hang around backstage, so to speak. Camera at the ready, pen and notepad in hand, all my senses have been absorbing the anticipation and excitement, as well as the frustrations and challenges, which go together with staging an event of this magnitude and complexity.

I confess that I had not given much thought to all the preparations that have to happen behind the scenes.

The row of flags is fluttering on the Leerdam bastion

In the last few weeks, in particular, I have realised that a huge bag of puzzle pieces have to be fitted together to make this event happen: apart from the performers (music, rehearsals, transport, accommodation, refreshments), there’s also staging (seating, sound, lighting, audio visual), promotion and marketing, hospitality services (for spectators, the media, invited guests, functionaries and VIPs), security, funding, office admin… and probably a host of things I’ve forgotten to mention!

Every single aspect requires close cooperation and teamwork, attention to detail and anticipation of potential delays, perseverance and determination, flexibility and lateral thinking to overcome challenges, and long, long, loooong hours of work. Never mind the numerous meetings and the hundreds of phone calls, emails, letters, faxes, and official documents.

The sheer volume and variety of the work that goes on in the background and in the run-up to this event has left me in awe of the dedication and determination of the people who put all their heart and soul into making this event not just a success, but a spectacular and sensational success.

This week has been a particularly busy one.

Seating Stands

Looking down on the Grand Parade from the Castle battlements – free parking will be available on the Parade

The Castle is a relatively ‘small’ venue: last year, about 1200 seats were available for each of the three performances. The Tattoo has become so popular, however, that the tickets had sometimes sold out before the show. As a result, they have added on a fourth night this year, and about 300 additional seats, to accommodate more people.

The team from Gearhouse put up the stands for the seating. There are four blocks: A and D are on the two shorter sides of the more or less square arena, and B and C are next to each other on one of the long sides and on either side of the main entrance. Block B is considerably larger and taller, because there are more rows of seats.

Sound and Lighting

The crew from 3 Electrical (or Electronic) Workshop, a full time signal unit based in Wonderboom, Pretoria, erected two tall towers of scaffolding on either side of the arena, before mounting the lights right at the top. There are other clusters of lights near the main entrance gate and opposite.

The Stage

In front of the Kat balcony, a stage consisting of wooden blocks, painted black, was constructed for the dancers. And the heavy black rubber mats are ready to be rolled out onto the cobblestone pathway.

You can just feel the excitement in the air… it’s positively electric! [Pun intended]

Even the resident Egyptian geese are curious about all the activity in the front arena, and come to check things out.

So, if you haven’t yet booked your tickets, go to Computicket and do so now – you’ll regret it if you miss this spectacular event!

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