Think of Perth and you may think of the ocean, pristine beaches, year round sunshine and the dubious fact that it is the world’s most isolated city. It’s closest neighbour of any note is Adelaide, over 2000km away and Melbourne, further still at 3400km. Given this you could reasonably expect a cultural void; but it’s anything but with the annual Perth International Arts Festival the oldest of its kind in Australia and the smaller, younger Fringe World, which runs in parallel, providing a heady mix of music, dance, circus and cabaret.
At the forefront of the four week Fringe was an alternative array of performances hosted in innovative venues. Not least The Pearl, a Spiegeltent, or Mirror Tent to translate it from the Dutch. Elaborately constructed tents of wood, stained glass, mirrors and canvas, they commonly travelled from town to town in the 19th and early 20th century. Intimate and luxurious, they are the perfect pop up venue.
Fringe World Director, Marcus Canning brought the ‘De Parel Van Vuren’, or the ‘The Pearl of Fire’, to Perth back in 2011 and it’s now become the centre piece amongst a number of other spaces and pop up venues throughout the city. Built back in 1905 it has been a dance hall, bar and entertainment salon in it’s time and still wowing the crowds in the 21st century. Other festivals may host a Spiegeltent but Perth is unique at the moment in having its own.
The curtain drew on Fringe World for another year on February 24th but you can be sure that in 2014 there’ll be plenty more from The Pearl and its alternative siblings.