October 20, 2023

2024 Adelaide Festival program launched

Filed under: 2023,Archive,Festival

The program for the 2024 Adelaide Festival has been unveiled and it is a first for incoming Artistic Director Ruth McKenzie and general manager Kath Mainland. It promises excellence, continuity and a showcase for emerging works that may prove to be future classics.

Written by Murray Bramwell

“We were both here for the 2023 festival, “says Ruth McKenzie, “but that was the last one for Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield – which went incredibly well, as all of their festivals have. It is a particular moment for a new team when you are looking at your first festival, 2024 and then ’25 and ’26.

“At the same time as we are starting there is a new director at Avignon (which Adelaide has always considered its sister festival) as well as at the Edinburgh International Festival. There is an interesting synergy between us as we are all wondering – ‘What is a festival in the 21st Century ?’

“In his Avignon event in July this year Tiago Rodrigues has been ruminating on how artists can help us understand urgent issues and reconcile issues from the past, while the slogan for Nicola Benedetti at Edinburgh was – ‘Where do we go from here ?’ ”

Bringing experience from events in Europe and the UK, including the Holland, Manchester International, and Chichester Festivals as well as the 2012 London Olympics, McKenzie is seeking a lively mix of distinguished artists familiar to Adelaide Festival audiences as well as young, new vibrant practitioners both Australian and international.

As part of her future strategy she has added Netherlands-based Wouter Van Ransbeek from the Holland Festival as Associate Director to scope emerging work and established repertoire for 2025 and 2026.

The operas have already been locked in for the next three years with the first already announced. Canadian, Robert Lepage returns with his production of Stravinsky’s short opera, The Nightingale and other Fables. Having provided numerous highlights to Adelaide festival programs – from The Dragons’ Trilogy in 1988 to more recent works such as Needles and Opium and The Far Side of the Moon, Lepage will be a welcome return.

As will Barrie Kosky, artistic director here in 1998, and bringer of his 2017 masterpiece Saul, with his recent production, for the legendary Berliner Ensemble, of Brecht and Weill’s most celebrated creation, The Threepenny Opera.

Other favourites returning in 2024 include the esteemed Laurie Anderson, who will be presenting I’ll Be Your Mirror invoking her late husband musician and poet, Lou Reed. It is built around AI-created works developed while working as AI Artist in Residence at the Sia Furler Centre at Adelaide Uni. Anderson calls it “a 21st century ouija board. “

Celebrated choreographer Akram Khan will stage a re-reading of Kipling’s The Jungle Book (including reference to climate change and a change of gender for Mowgli). And Berlin’s Schaubuhne theatre director, Thomas Ostermeier will bring a stage adaptation of Edouard Louis’ memoir, Qui a tue mon pere (Who killed my father) performed solo by the author.

Other Internationals visiting the festival for the first time include conceptual artist, Marina Abramovic and the Marina Abramovic Institute (MAI) convening Takeover, a participatory endurance project in the Space Theatre. Another favourite of McKenzie’s is Elizabeth Streb with her Extreme Action choreography combining dancers with contraptions called Action Machines. Streb says it’s not dance and definitely not acrobatics or circus. McKenzie notes Streb doesn’t even like the word choreograohy. This intriguing hybrid work is entitled Time Machine.

In her announcement McKenzie is eager to highlight a new generation of festival artists. Under-30s such as playwright-actor Kamilaroi man Thomas Weatherall whose one-person play Blue was a stand-out in this year’s Sydney Festival. It will be performed by Callan Purcell, currently playing Aaron Burr in Hamiliton.

Melbourne collective Pony Cam, in league with theatre artist David Williams will present Grand Theft Theatre, a collection of their favourite fond and formative theatre moments, some of them gathered from travelling-on-a-budget visits to previous Adelaide Festivals in their younger days. And, from Greece, comes director Mario Banushi with his play without words, Goodbye Lindita, which has been hailed as the work of the next Romeo Castellucci.

Other theatre includes I Hide in Bathrooms, a new work by Adelaide artist Astrid Pill with collaborators Ingrid Voorendt, Zoe Barry and Jason Sweeney, presented by Vitalstatistix at Waterside, Milo Rau’s Antigone in the Amazon (Brazil/Belgium) an amalgam of film and live acting, and a work in progress from Andy Packer and Slingsby, spread over three festivals, entitled The Tree of Light.

Ruth McKenzie also makes a pitch for The Promise, featuring Dutch singer Wende. Developed with a group of writers at the Royal Court in London she describes it as a “a song cycle about women’s silence.”

There are two First Nations premieres featured in 2024. Opening the festival and performed on Glenelg Beach (Pathawilyangga) Kaurna Country, Baleen Moondjan, is a major new commission from Stephen Page, former director of Bangarra Dance Theatre, and the 2004 Adelaide Festival. Drawn from a story told by his grandmother from the Ngugi/Nunukul/Moondjan people of Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) it celebrates the totemic connection with the baleen whales and their significance. The design is by Jacob Nash with music composed by Steve Francis.

Guurunda, created by Jacob Boehme and presented at Her Majesty’s, is a collection of Narungga Creation stories from SA’s Yorke Peninsula. Performed by a group of First Nations artists from that community, it is a mix of story, song, puppetry and dance featuring songwoman Sonya Rankine and songman Warren Milera. Artwork is by Kylie O’Loughlin.

Restless Dance also has a premiere for 2024. Created by director Michelle Ryan, with music written and performed by Carla Lippis, Private Dance (to quote the program) “invites audiences into a world of secret desires and dreams, exploring taboo subjects of love and sex.” ADT (Australian Dance Theatre) has a new work by Daniel Riley, Marrow, also at the Odeon, and Dance North’s Wayfinder will be in the Space Theatre in the final weekend.

The extensive music program ranges from the Chamber Landscapes weekend program at UKARIA, curated by ACO director and violinist Richard Tognetti pondering the concept of Nothing, to the Elder Hall Daylight Express lunchtime concerts. Music Viva will host Long Lost Loves (and Grey Suede Gloves) featuring mezzo-soprano Anna Dowsley. The Goldner String Quartet will play three nights in the Town Hall, The Adelaide Chamber Singers will perform Carl Crossin’s composition There Will Come Soft Rain and, likely to be in keen demand, the excellent Vikingur Olafsson will play the most awaited Goldberg Variations since Glenn Gould.

The 2024 Biennial is entitled Inner Sanctum as curator Jose da Silva contemplates “the imagination as a place of refuge and sanctuary”, while Artists with Disability present us with works under the wry banner of Yucky at the ACE Gallery. Writers’ Week features, among many, Elizabeth Strout, Mary Beard , Trent Dalton, Anna Funder, David Marr and Anjum Hasan. WOMADelaide has a mega line-up, including Ziggy Marley (at last) Sharon Shannon, Baaba Maal and many more yet to be announced.

Ruth McKenzie puts up the final image in her showcase presentation. It is a list. 17 days, 64 events, 16 world premieres, 12 Australian premieres, 23 Adelaide exclusives. But she is still asking the questions – what are festivals for ? And how do you work with artists and citizens to understand how to build a festival for the future ?

In the meantime, the program is out. The 2024 AF is on its way.

InDaily October 25, 2023 (In slightly varied form)

Adelaide Festival unveils a star-studded line-up for 2024

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