Another first for the arts in Ballarat


Her Majesty’s Theatre is bringing the Deluxe Spiegeltent to Ballarat as the feature venue for the third Ballarat Cabaret Festival from 5 to 12 October 2014.

During Ballarat’s gold rush, visit web large tents provided venues for entertainment and dances. Since then, Australian theatre has evolved from its travelling tent shows to today’s elaborate marquees, such as those used by Cirque du Soleil for the stunning performances it regularly schedules around the country.

It was in the early 20th century that the Spiegeltent (Dutch for ‘mirror tent’) was developed as a portable performance space. Originating from Belgium, these tents were built from wood, mirrors, canvas, and leaded glass, and were fitted out with velvet and brocade. Each had its own distinct personality and style.

Designed to be peripatetic, Spiegeltents were also popular as portable dance halls for towns or regions that didn’t have permanent buildings for such activities. The mirrors were important as they enabled discreet observation of the patrons to determine their mood across a crowded dance floor and artists could adjust their performances accordingly. Marlene Dietrich famously sang ‘Falling in love again’ in a Paris-based Spiegeltent. It was reported to be an experience of innate beauty, romance and intrigue.

It is said that Spiegletents have always been the domain of those who love the night-life, and they have been popular venues for vaudeville, cabaret and burlesque entertainment over many years.

Cabarets often featured musicians, poets, comedians, dancers and actors, all introduced by a master of ceremonies. In the early 20th century, cabaret became a variety format that featured adult entertainment such as bawdy comedy, dancing girls and female striptease.

The popularity of Spiegeltents peaked in the 1920s and ‘30s with very few operating by the time the 1950s were reached.

However, they have made a comeback worldwide in the 21st century. Their resurgence has contributed to the development of alternative theatre in Australia, creating contemporary, commercially successful popular entertainment offering a unique experience for artists and audiences.

Several Spiegeltents have successfully operated in Australian capital cities, such as those at the Arts Centre and at Crown Casino in Melbourne. Each capital city festival features a Spiegeltent and they dot the landscape of the Garden of Unearthly Delights at Adelaide Fringe.

With this year’s Ballarat Cabaret Festival set to sizzle, you will experience an alternative, daring venue that has style with an emphasis on cabaret, burlesque and the avant-garde performed by cutting-edge artists.

The 2014 Ballarat Cabaret Festival is a must for those who seek something unusual and different in entertainment.

The festival aims to build Ballarat’s reputation as Australia’s leading regional centre for the performing arts. Ballarat was the first regional city to host a cabaret-based festival two years ago and is now about to present its third. The previous festivals have showcased an eclectic array of performances and have brought the CBD to life at night in October.

Some might ask why they should go. Well in the true style of the EmCee in the movie and stage play ‘Cabaret’, Joel Gray, in his initial welcome, says, “Madames, messieurs , ladies and gentlemen. Leave your worries on the outside. In here, life is beautiful.”

The 2014 Ballarat Cabaret Festival using the Deluxe Spiegeltent as the venue for the first time is a must-see event. The festival is on from 5 to 12 October 2014 with the Spiegeltent located in Armstrong Street South, between the Town Hall and Myer.

Ron Egeberg
Ballarat Cabaret Festival

Categories: Blog, Uncategorized
This post was written by , posted on January 5, 2015 Monday at 12:18 pm

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