Karen Koren: The still Famous Spiegeltent
I have travelled to the other side of the world only to be confronted by Scotland in New Zealand '“ torrential rain, couldn't believe it!
No sun yet, but I’m hopeful. It’s not cold at least and I am at so many shows and meeting so many people that it doesn’t matter too much. Except, of course, I am not getting to see this beautiful country.
Like Edinburgh in festival time, Auckland in their festival does not suit constant rain, so in the lovely gardens, with their open air bars and Spiegeltents people are running for the nearest shelter.
The beautiful big Spiegeltent in Auckland is not The Famous Spiegeltent. However, another tent of the same type and probably in better nick than The Famous that has had its final days at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Spiegeltents are at most outdoor festivals these days.
Over the decades The Famous Spiegeltent hosted some of the world’s greatest performing artists, including German singer Marlene Dietrich, who famously performed Falling in Love Again in it during the 1930s, while still based in Belgium.
The Famous Spiegeltent has been coming to Edinburgh since 1983 and was the first ever when she arrived at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
During her Edinburgh Fringe lifetime she has been located across the city on the rooftop at Waverley Mall, next to the Sir Walter Scott Monument and established the festival hub at George Square Gardens in the late 90s.
Since then the Famous Spiegeltent moved to George Street, outside the Assembly Rooms for one year only and since 2014 The Famous Spiegeltent has been in St Andrew Square.
The Spiegel maestro is David Bates, who hails from Melbourne and has launched the careers of many acrobats, burlesque performers and novelty acts by creating the wondrous show La Clique in 2004 – who can forget the man in the bath? There have been many imitations since this show was formed and it’s fair to say that David helped in the rebirth of burlesque, circus and cabaret.
The offshoot show, La Soiree, which is on here in Auckland, has now become bigger and better than La Clique and won an Olivier Award in London last year.
However, we should not forget where it started, which was with La Clique in the Famous Spiegeltent in Edinburgh with David Bates at the helm. We shall miss him!
Karen Koren is artistic director of the Gilded Balloon