The glorious Spiegeltent has been erected in Wollongong’s arts precinct and all set for a busy opening night to the season on Thursday.
The month includes a stellar line-up of musicians, theatre and comedians but intertwined are a number of “home grown” productions essential to the program.
Merrigong Theatre Company is behind the temporary venue, while artistic director Simon Hinton said it’s part of the organisation’s “DNA” to foster and nurture emerging talent as it is to bring show-stoppers to the region.
“Merrigong for a decade or more now has been really committed to developing local artists and we’ve got a bunch of different programs to support different artists,” he said.
“It’s in our DNA; so to see Spiegeltent Wollongong as well being a big festival for our audience but also seeing it as an opportunity for local artists to just get the experience and to be able to perform in that tent. It’s a priceless opportunity.”
Spiegeltent Wollongong [is] a big festival for our audience but also ... an opportunity for local artists to just get the experience.
In between shows from the likes of Judith Lucy, Dan Sultan and Dave Hughes you’ll find productions by So Popera and Circus Monoxide, plus a variety of talent at Made From Scratch.
The latter will feature an “eclectic and diverse” range of up-and-coming professional artists from around the Illawarra such as a spoken word artist, a blues musician and a circus performer.
The concept has been running since mid-2017 after The Vault Cabaret closed and has been growing each time, Hinton said.
“When that venue was sold it was a good opportunity to rethink that a little bit,” he said.
“The Music Lounge [inside Wollongong Town Hall] is a fantastic venue for it but we thought with the Spiegeltent coming, the ‘once a year chance to go big’ would be something fun.”
Meantime, Merrigong’s next big project is reviving one of its tried and tested venues – the Town Hall – by rejigging the acoustics, staging and seating plan. The idea is to be able to cater for large-scale artists that may also be found at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre.
“It’s early days yet … it’s an old piece of infrastructure we’re trying to make work in the 21st century, but potentially really exciting,” Hinton said.
“We’re working with all of the top music promoters in the country to look at what artists would be suitable to go in there. I am confident if Wollongong shows it’s best side and we make it wok that can happen again for Town Hall. It would be great for that venue to be alive again.”
It would be great for that venue to be alive again.