A peek behind the scenes at the Cape Town Military Tattoo 2010

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 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.

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!

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

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.

The seating stands: Block A on the far side, Block D on the near side, Blocks B and C on either side of the main entrance

This week has been a particularly busy one.

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.

Ground-level view of the lighting tower

The crew from 3 Electrical 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.

In front of the Kat balcony, a stage had to be constructed for the dancers.

The stage in front of the ornate Kat balcony

You can just feel the excitement in the air… it’s positively electric!

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!


Gallery of Photos

6 thoughts on “A peek behind the scenes at the Cape Town Military Tattoo 2010

    • Hi Helen – it is a really big event, and I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to peer behind the curtain.

      There was a lot of activity at the Castle this weekend, with bands and performers arriving to rehearse their routines in the arena, figuring out how much space they actually have, and how to use it optimally. I took almost 400 photos on Saturday and almost 750 photos on Sunday… which I now need to sort through, deleting the ones that are blurry, badly composed, grainy, etc. But I plan to post some of the nicest ones in the next day or two.

      I hope you’ll buy tickets for one of the evenings?

  1. I think people under-estimate what goes on behind the scenes in most things in life – especially with events like this! How lucky for you to be part of his process – capturing it all as it unfolds 😉 Looking forward to hearing more about it. Enjoy x

    • Hello Alan –

      My gosh…. the last few days have been soooo long and exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time, that I have barely had time to download the photos, have a quick look, discard all those that are blurry or glary or badly framed etc…, empty the memory card, recharge the batteries, clean the lenses, check the gear, prepare some take-along snacks just in case there’s no food available there, fill the water bottles, apply the sunscreen, pack the jackets,… before it’s time to go back to the Castle for the next day.

      I hope to have a little gap this morning to post some pics of the rehearsals on the weekend and yesterday, but there’s about 10 GB worth of files to sort through, so we’ll see.

      NB!! I’M NOT COMPLAINING! I’ve been loving every minute of it, and I wouldn’t miss this opportunity for the world! Who wants to sleep when there are EXCITING THINGS HAPPENING to photograph and capture in words and share with the world, hey?! 😀

  2. Great photos of my team erecting the lights, however one correction please.

    We are from 3 Electronic Workshop, a full time signal unit based in Wonderboom Pretoria.

    Its good to see these photos and the team performing, 10 out 10 from me.


    Warrant Officer Shawn Boehme
    3 Electronic Workshop

    • Hello Sir, thank you so much for correcting that! There were so many people and units involved in the preparations and the running of this event, that I couldn’t always find out who exactly was responsible for what. So I really appreciate any input and corrections.

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