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New performance venue offers unique experience

Friday, 12 August 2016

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Visitors to this year’s Open Day at the Mount Lawley Campus will have the chance to explore a new facility with over a hundred years of history: ECU’s very own Spiegeltent.

ECU is the first university in the world to acquire a Spiegeltent, providing a unique performance space for Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) students to hone their craft.

At Open Day on Sunday, 14 August 2016 the public is invited to watch WAAPA Contemporary and Jazz musicians showcase their talents in the venue for the first time, which will be named ‘The Edith’.

WAAPA Director Professor Julie Warn said the Spiegeltent was a wonderful addition to ECU’s Mount Lawley Campus.

“There’s a whole range of different opportunities that can be offered to our students by having the use of this really alternative space,” Professor Warn said.

“Performances might include plays, musicals, cabaret, comedy or improvisation for example,” she said.

Spiegeltent is Dutch for ‘mirror tent’ due to the hand-made architecture of wood, mirrors, canvas and leaded glass, with intricate detailing in velvet and brocade.

The Edith is one of just a handful Spiegeltents in the world and was designed by historical custodians of the ornate tents, the Klessens family in Belgium who have been building Spiegeltents since the 1920’s.

ECU’s Spiegeltent is even more rare because it has the ability to expand and contract its configuration and capacity. Its extra-large configuration means it can extend out to an impressive 42m in length allowing for a capacity of up to 300 guests.

Professor Warn said the unique nature of the Spiegeltent means students will need to learn to work differently to reach their audiences.

“You’re not just at the front of the theatre so performers will need to play to all sides, using their voices and bodies differently,”

And it’s not just performance students that will acquire new skills.

“Working in this unique space also provides great learning opportunities behind the scenes for stage management, lighting, sound and production and design students,” Professor Warn said.

“Let’s not forget our WAAPA audiences too, they will love it,” she said.

Fringe World Festival facilitated the acquisition of the Spiegeltent, and the Festival team is providing the expertise with erecting the tent for ECU.

Fringe World Chief Executive Marcus Canning said that ECU students would benefit from performing and working in the beautiful Spiegeltent.

“It’s a world first for a university and a unique opportunity for ECU students to have access to their very own Spiegeltent. I look forward to them honing their skills and growing their creativity and potentially one day presenting work at future Fringe World festivals and beyond. This is another way that ECU and WAAPA are giving their students the absolute best opportunities to succeed and shine on a world stage, whatever their chosen field,” Mr Canning said.

The Edith Spiegeltent is open at ECU Mount Lawley and WAAPA Open Day on Sunday, 14 August from with free performances by WAAPA Contemporary Music and Jazz students.

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