On my way down to the Castle of Good Hope on Tuesday morning, I was suddenly struck by how wonderful it was that I was allowed behind the scenes again this year.
I still clearly remember how I sat on the seating stands at the Castle during the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Tattoos, absolutely riveted by the performances, the solemn ceremonies, the thrilling re-enactments, the colourful uniforms, the tough-looking soldiers with their weapons, the stirring music, the thunderous salvoes from the guns during the 1812 Overture, and the extraordinary venue of the historic Castle, with its backdrop of iconic Table Mountain lit up at night.
All I had at the time was my little point-and-shoot camera, and my limited knowledge of shutter speed and aperture and such-like technicalities, but I recorded whatever (usually blurry) impressions I could from my seat on the stands. I wanted to engrave the memories in my mind.
My most fervent wish was to be allowed a glimpse behind the scenes, to meet the people who were responsible for putting together this spectacular show, and to acknowledge, in some way, their many hours of hard work, much of it un-noticed but nonetheless essential. I wanted to take photographs of what happened both onstage and in the unseen background, and to write about the whole experience from the inside. I thought it sad when there were empty seats on the stands – I wanted every night’s performance to be sold out, and for every Capetonian and every visitor to see, no, to experience, the Tattoo at least once in their lives.
When my wish came true in 2010, and again in 2012, I was over the moon. I know my friends and family don’t always get it, when I wax lyrical about the Tattoo and the various other military events that I have attended, photographed and written about in the last couple of years. It hasn’t always been plain sailing, and I’m not saying there haven’t been challenges and frustrations of various sorts, not just from a technical photography perspective (which is something I have written about before).
But, standing there on the arena, watching the performers diligently going through their rehearsals, despite the scorching heat that made the sweat run into their eyes, or the blustery wind that threatened to whip away their musical scores, or the challenges of coordinating their marching to the rhythm of the music, while keeping an eye on the directions of the drum major or pipe major, and remembering the correct place to stand in relation to each other and to the other bands and the spectators, in a kind of three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle… – I was overwhelmed by this feeling that they (we) were all in this together, putting aside – for a time – all differences and ignoring all distractions, and focusing on the task at hand, which is to put on an excellent, fantastic, spell-binding show that highlights all the participants’ unique talents and brings out the best in everyone involved.
So, what are you waiting for – go and support them! 😀
Here are some pictures of the day. Click on any of the pictures to access the slideshow with captions.