By David Russell
South Australians know well the intoxicating atmosphere of The Spiegeltent. The venue is perhaps the Adelaide Fringe’s most recognisable symbol, hosting the biggest shows and tens-of-thousands of festival-goers in the Garden of Unearthly Delights every year. For Yorke Peninsula-born Brett Haylock The Spiegeltent made such an impression it changed his life forever.
“I went to work for the Adelaide Fringe in 2000 and met David Bates, who owned the Spiegeltent,” Brett told Inside South Australia.
“That was its first ever engagement in Australia. I was completely seduced by the charm of that antique Belgian mirror-tent… and literally ran away with the circus.”
Brett toured the world with the Spiegeltent, and worked on the hugely successful La Clique and La Soiree shows that were born from the tent’s late-night antics and have been seen by over five million people. 16 years later Brett’s back in Adelaide, as creative producer of Club Swizzle, the latest iteration of the La Clique-La Soiree brand.
Now playing at the Adelaide Festival Centre, Club Swizzle has transformed The Space Theatre into a bar on and around which cabaret artists, gravity-defying acrobatics and comedians hedonistically entertain in true La Soiree style.
“It’s controlled chaos,” says Brett. “The show takes the energy and spirit of La Soiree and puts that into a late-night bar. It’s cheeky, it’s irreverent, it’s fun, and it’s all in a really unique setting.
“Club Swizzle is at the beginning of a new show trajectory… it has many years of touring ahead of it. In that regard it’s still being developed… this is a fantastic opportunity in Adelaide to experiment and play.”
Brett says the show has had an incredible response from audiences, no mean feat in a festival city accustomed to quality cabaret and circus productions.
“You have a very sophisticated audience now… because of their exposure, because of the enormous festival in their backyard. It’s an audience that has seen a lot of shows… they are familiar with these genres, whereas a lot of cities around the world are not.
“(Adelaide audiences) are not easily pleased… which is a challenge for us as producers. You need to present a quality product for it to take hold in Adelaide.”
Despite a gruelling 11-month-a-year, eight-shows-a-week schedule, Brett makes it back to Adelaide for every Fringe Festival, regardless of whether or not he has a show in the line-up. It’s a priceless opportunity to network and pitch and sell shows.
“Without a doubt I’m here every year. The festival works on many levels; it’s an incredible marketplace. It’s a pilgrimage… your peers are all here – the whole international community is represented. If you have a show to sell, you’re here chatting to people about it in bars all over Adelaide.”
Club Swizzle is playing at the Adelaide Festival Centre until January 17.
Banner photo: Claudio Raschella.