To house Teatro ZinZanni, One Reel imported two beautiful antique theaters from Belgium and erected them in downtown Seattle and on San Francisco’s Embarcadero.
Opulent palaces of red velvet and gold brocade, stained glass and deep mahogany, the European cabaret tents, known as spiegeltents (mirror tents), were constructed in the 1910s by renowned craftsman Willem Klessens. These warm, intimate circular theaters hosted dances, wine tastings, cabarets and celebrations in Europe for almost a century. Each tent consists of over 4000 pieces. Designed to be erected and broken down in a hurry, Klessens’ spiegeltents require no metal fasteners for construction and can be assembled by a team of three or four in a single day.
There are currently about one hundred of these remarkable structures in existence, and these two tents, San Francisco’s Palais Nostalgique and Seattle’s Moulin Rouge, are among the oldest in the Belgian collection. The tents are still owned by the Klessens family and Willem’s grandson, Willy Klessens (and his son Johnny), have been lovingly restoring and touring grandfather’s tent since 1987. Willy traveled to Seattle and San Francisco with his son Johnny and brother-in-law Tom to oversee the construction of these tents for Teatro ZinZanni.