Massive festivals, Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour and intimate cabaret performances: Creative Director Scott Maidment has brought his inspired genius to them all. Now he’s bringing the acclaimed Blanc de Blanc to the Spiegeltent in Newcastle, so we had a chat with him about what to expect.
Scott has always worked in the creative sphere. He started his career touring Shakespeare for around 10 years and then took to doing circus and other live performances. This led to work creating events such as Sydney Festival, Brisbane Festival which spurred on international touring working on the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and more.
Dream career or what?
His experience with large scale festivals has inspired the much more intimate production of Blanc de Blanc in the Spiegeltent. “I go by the old showbiz adage that the show starts from the minute you walk in the door,” Scott says. “Whether you’re walking in to a festival, or stepping in to a Spiegeltent getting a drink at the bar, I want people to have an experience that’s unique and takes them out of their every day.”
Creating a show like Blanc de Blanc in the Spiegeltent gives Scott and the team a head start because the tents have such belle époque grandeur. “The tent itself is almost like a character in the show,” Scott confirms. “A lot of the shows I create are made in the Spiegeltent so I have that as a starting place when thinking about and creating the show.”
Originally built as travelling dance halls in Germany, these hand-hewn pavilions are built of wood, mirrors and stained glass – detailed with velvet and brocade. With intimate booths, chandeliers and ornate bars the world within a Spiegeltent is utterly unique. “It offers much more of an experience than seeing a show in a regular theatre,” adds Scott.
From the moment you take a seat in the Spiegeltent you know you’re in for a treat. “Because the audience is pretty much in the round, not only do you see the performers in the moment, you see the audience laughing and enjoying themselves. It kind of starts a bit of contagion and creates such a unique atmosphere.”
In Blanc de Blanc the audience is an integral part of the action with the show taking place all over the tent – including above the audience’s heads. “In Blanc de Blanc we also have a giant hot tub set up so it totally takes it to the next level,” Scott says with a wicked laugh. “When we started doing the show we launched it in the Sydney Opera House and there were a lot of times that audience members would jump into the hot tub!
“Sometimes people really do get carried away because there’s such a crazy environment – and I think we encourage that as well,” Scott adds. “The show’s like a night of drinking champagne: it starts off smooth and sophisticated and by the end of the show it’s a crazy, heady party that everyone gets involved in.”
With a performance that takes in burlesque, acrobatics, cabaret and comedy, the cast have been gathered from the finest performers in their field in the world. The performers aren’t just chosen for their techniques and great skills (which, by the way, are top notch) “You have to be a natural performer, that’s what really makes it exciting for the audience,” Scott says.
It’s a high-energy show – and Scott says that the performers pretty much focus their whole day on a four hour explosion of energy. “This is a really different experience where the performers’ energy and personalities really come out.”
If there’s one thing that Scott’s really proud of, it’s the audience reaction to the show. “It’s consistent and I love that. Every night there’s something new, with the audience up and dancing and a lot of people come back and see it a couple of times.”
The show will sell out, and Scott says that once people see the Spiegeltent going up in Civic Park that the excitement will really build. His advice: “Get your tickets now – you don’t want to miss out!”
This year the Spiegeltent is hosting an array of shows in Newcastle: from Blanc de Blanc, to comedy from Peter Helliar or Luke McGregor, to music from Kate Miller-Heidke and her string quartet to Joe Camilleri and The Black Sorrows. Check out the full program here.
Image: Nathaniel Mason