Military tattoo in Docklands

By Ella Gibson

More than 1200 cast and crew came to Docklands last month to put on the 66th annual Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

It’s only the fourth time that the Tattoo has been overseas, only leaving its Scottish homeland three times touring to New Zealand in 2000 and Sydney in 2005 and 2010.

Producer Brigadier David Allfrey said he was “absolutely thrilled the way the cast and crew have come together.”

“We’ve had some astonishing support here in Melbourne and great friendship all the way through,” Brigadier Allfrey said

The event was a unique blend of music, ceremony, entertainment and theatre, at the heart of which was the Massed Pipes and Drums drawn from Scottish regiments who joined massed military bands from the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force.

The show was highly technical in nature, spread over the entirety of the Etihad Stadium surface. A full size replica of the Edinburgh Castle provided a backdrop for the performance.

Performers came from 10 regiments in the UK plus bands from Switzerland, Norway, Tonga, Fiji and all across Australia. With such a large international cast, all rehearsal was done in their home countries before being brought together to rehearse in Etihad Stadium over three days.

“It’s very easy with a show like this to appear arrogant when it visits other parts of the world and it’s very important to us that we’ve got Australian content and performers here,” Brigadier Allfrey said.

The Australian content included the Australian Defence Force’s military band, Australian dancers, the South Australian Police and Aboriginal elders who performed a smoking ceremony.

“The first people are going to be coming on at the very start of the show … their elders are going to do a smoking ceremony for us, they will be the first onto the field and they will be the last off,” Brigadier Allfrey said.  “I think Australia is going to be incredibly proud.”

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is one of the most famous events in the world, playing to around 220,000 people each year in Edinburgh and attracting an annual television audience of 100 million.

“There is a great sense of emotion in the show, there’s a great sense of Australian identity, I think, and there’s a shared past, a shared present and a shared future, God willing, that we will all enjoy.“

The grand finale drew the entire cast together for the performance of Auld Lang Syne, while The Lone Piper, standing high on the castle ramparts, brought the event to a conclusion.

“It’s popular I think because in a changing world, people do like a sense of anchor, they like a sense of tradition and a sense of heritage,” Brigadier Allfrey said.

“But that is not to give the impression that the tattoo is simply locked in the past … it’s a fanfare for the future.”

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