I paid another visit to the Castle today to see what was happening in the run-up to the Tattoo. The mood was one of excitement and anticipation. It is a challenging task to coordinate the rehearsals of all the participating acts in the show, and to make sure that everyone knows exactly what is expected of them.
After all, there are only two more days left until the event officially opens on Wednesday night, 31 October 2012, with a full dress rehearsal scheduled for Tuesday night, 30 October 2012.
Today, the groundsmen were busy nailing down the black plastic sheeting that is used as a protective cover for the historic paving stones leading from the main entrance gate to the Kat balcony and to the archway, through which one accesses the rear courtyard. The sheets also help to create a more even surface for the performers, as the paving stones are rather uneven. The heat of the sun, beating down on these sheets, very soon made them unpleasantly hot, and even though I was wearing boots, I could feel the heat radiating from the ground.
The construction of the boardwalk at the back of one of the side stands was not yet complete, but it was looking really good!
When I arrived, the SA Army Band Cape Town were on the stage, sorting out their march-on and march-off; the dimensions of the arena and the positioning of the stands are important factors, as they determine when and where they need to turn.
A group of seamen and able seamen
cadets from the SA Navy in their striking blue uniforms practiced a marching drill under the instructions of WO2 Nolan Herne; the young men and women in the squad seemed a little nervous of all the people watching them from the sidelines. The South African Medical Health Services band ran through their routine, trying to work out how best to utilise the entire space, while also making sure that the spectators on the side stands would also have good lines of sight. The lovely long-legged girls of the Celtic Dance group briefly practiced their routine on the stage, much to the delight of the spectators.
I took some photos from outside the Castle today as well. It had been another hot day in the Mother City, but luckily there was a little bit of a breeze fluttering the flags ontop of the Leerdam bastion. The flags belong to various periods in the history of the Castle; from right to left (as seen from the outside of the Castle), they are:
- The orange, white and blue flag of the United Netherlands (De Prinzenvlag) 1652 – ±1654 and 1655 ‑ 1695 (occasionally)
- The Union Flag of the United Kingdom of England and Scotland 1795 ‑ 1800
- The Statenvlag (Batavian Republic) 1803 ‑ 1806
- British Union Jack 1801 ‑ 1803 and 1806 ‑ 1957
- South Africa (Union and later Republic) – 1928 ‑ 1994
- Republic of South Africa – 1994 onwards
The final rehearsal before lunchtime was of the emergency evacuation plan, under the guidance of Lt Col Eddie Nijeboer, who is responsible for event safety. The purpose was to make sure that the ushers and the guards were familiar with the emergency exit routes, the locations of the exits and the process of escorting the spectators safely off the stands and out of the Castle.
Tomorrow promises to be a very full day – and evening – of rehearsals, as well as a march through central Cape Town with the participating groups to promote the event among locals and visitors. I’m rather looking forward to that!