I headed down to the Castle of Good Hope again this morning to see what had happened since yesterday.
The team from Gearhouse were hard at work in the arena, assembling the seating stands. The little green forklift was dashing hither and thither, keeping the workers on the stands supplied with floor boards, backing boards, seats, steps and railings. Blocks C and D were almost done, half of Block B was already up, and Block A was still being assembled. I noticed that the first row of the seats, which used to be on the ground level, is now about a metre off the ground. This means that even the people in the front row seats will now have an excellent view of the arena.
The guys from 3 Electrical Workshop in Wonderboom had finished constructing the lighting towers, and were busy affixing all the lights to the tracks high above.
Yesterday, I had seen a group of maintenance guys cordoning off the Kat archway to give it a spray and to remove bits of flaking paint. Today, they spread out dropsheets on the wooden cobbles, and were busy applying thick coats of ochre-tinged paint to the entire inside of the archway. In the rear arena, the framework for a large marquee was being assembled; I think this will be used when all the participants eat their meals.
The Cape Town Highlanders were drilling on the rear field, under the watchful eyes of their RSM, MWO Alfie Wort. Their new OC – Lt Col Tienie Lott – was also keeping an eye on the rehearsals. WO2 Jerome Mecloen of the SA Army Band Cape Town was using a large bass drum to issue the commands, as this is going to be a silent drill. Meanwhile, Major Ian Long and his assistant were measuring out two identical arenas on the rear field. They also clearly marked out the various entrances and exits. This will allow the various participating groups to rehearse their routines in parallel, and to make sure that they are aware of the dimensions and layout of the arena.
I also went up to the roof to have a look at the arena from above.
The area demarcated by the seating stands was smaller than it had been in previous years, and it was far more rectangular. If you look at an aerial photograph of the Castle (such as here), you can clearly see that none of the walls are at right angles to each other (in fact, it is constructed in the form of a pentagon, with a bastion at each corner).
I’d noticed in previous years that this makes it really difficult for the bands to align themselves correctly, when they march into the arena. The Kat archway, from which the pipes and drums usually emerge to dramatic effect, complete with swirling mists, echoing pipes and thundering drums, is at an odd angle to the main gate. The cobblestone pathway leading from the archway to the main entrance meanders a bit. There is no good central point or central line that the bands can use to orient – or ‘dress’ – themselves correctly.
This year, the whole layout of the arena has been changed – rotated anti-clockwise by about 90 degrees if you will. In previous years, the ‘central’ stand where the VIPs were usually seated had been the one closest to the Van der Stel entrance gate with the bell tower above. This year, however, the main stand will be Block A (on the right) – according to Computicket, the tickets here cost R120. The seats in Block B cost R100, and the seats in Blocks C and D (on the left) cost R80. Tickets for children from 3 to 11 years old cost R60. There is also a matinee performance on Saturday afternoon – the tickets for that cost R60 for adults and R50 for children from 3 to 11 years old; matinee seats are unreserved.
Remember to get your tickets – quick-quick! You don’t want to miss this!
You can click on any of the pictures to access the slideshow – enjoy!