Perth Festival reveals 2024 program
The program for Perth Festival 2024 has been revealed.
To close Artistic Director Iain Grandage’s five-year cycle, the Festival is inviting audiences to gather with leading international and local artists under the 2024 theme of Ngaangk. Our star, the sun and also the Noongar term for mother, Ngaangk nourishes everyone and everything that grows and thrives on Noongar Boodjar.
From Friday, February 9 to Sunday, March 3, the Festival program features a diverse blend of new voices and major stars. These include such extraordinary artists as Angélique Kidjo, Akram Khan, Paul Kelly, Brooklyn Rider, Ludovico Einaudi, Sampha, Joan Jonas, Lonnie Holley, Jane Smiley, and brilliant companies from Belgium’s Ontroerend Goed to Broome’s Marrugeku.
The festival opens with West Australian Opera’s world-premiere Festival commission from Gina Williams & Guy Ghouse as they once again bring Noongar magic to the opera stage with Wundig wer Wilura, the Dreaming story of two star-crossed lovers whose souls are separated forever in two mountains facing each other outside York.
The festival ends in a twilight of togetherness at Supreme Court Gardens with a special free Lotterywest Closing Event Under the Same Sun. Leading Aboriginal musicians and international greats, including Angélique Kidjo, Emma Donovan, Lior, Sampa The Great, Mama Kin, Maatakitj, Paul Kelly, Flewnt, Shane Howard and Stephen Pigram, will collaborate on songs that celebrate nature, nurture and shared futures under the same sun.
Branching out from the inner city, Scarborough Beach audiences can don headphones and take in a vista teeming with activity as a hidden vocalist sings everyday interactions into epic significance in The Invisible Opera. Also in the City of Stirling, Nightwalks with Teenagers sees young people lead a friendly neighbourhood tour to discover our city’s streets with different eyes.
The esteemed Akram Khan Company returns to Perth with a spectacular Rudyard Kipling retelling through dance, theatre, music and animation in Jungle Book reimagined. Theatrical magician Geoff Sobelle celebrates the fruits of the Earth with his audience gathered around a vast dinner table for FOOD, while a single tree speaks volumes at the centre of Ontroerend Goed’s exquisitely inventive palindromic eco-drama Are we not drawn onward to new erA.
Below the streets of Perth the empty Carillon City basement food court will be brought to life through the wondrous Wetland living plant installation by Linda Tegg with Vivienne Hansen. In the lightwell above, Rebecca Baumann’s Light Event will bathe audiences in iridescent light.
Acclaimed composer Jonathan Mills’ will bring the operatic adaption of Murray Bail’s Miles Frankin Award-winning Eucalyptus to Perth Concert Hall. Part Australian fairytale and part word-painting of the Australian bush, this world-premiere concert features an exceptional Australian cast performing with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and West Australian Opera Chorus.
Musical wonders continue at Perth Concert Hall with a diverse music program, beginning with the return of iconic Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi and ending with the great American string quartet Brooklyn Rider. Performer and academic Dr Lou Bennett AM and singer-songwriter Lior are joined by the Australian String Quartet for Ngapa William Cooper. The Australian Chamber Orchestra will also present their poetic synergy of film and music River, narrated on screen by acting great Willem Dafoe.
Global powerhouse and five-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo and legendary Australian troubadour Paul Kelly bring decades of boundless musical creativity to the stage in their shows at Perth Concert Hall, with Noongar artist Maatakitj supporting Kidjo on her Australian tour.
On the closing weekend, Zambian-born performer Sampa The Great will get the crowd jumping with a mix of rap, hip hop and R&B at the purpose-built stage under the stars at Supreme Court Gardens. Two nights later, Mercury Prize-winning British singer-songwriter and producer Sampha hits the stage there with his intoxicating blend of pop, R&B, soul, jazz and west African music.
Perth Festival will take over The Rechabite in Northbridge again in 2024 to bring some of the most exciting music acts from across the globe, including Greentea Peng (UK), Kings of Convenience (Norway), Lonnie Holley, Moor Mother & Irreversible Entanglements (USA), Michael Rother & Friends (Germany), Cymande (UK), legendary Zambian sensation WITCH and an incredible array of Australian acts including Courtney Barnett and the First Nations artists in the returning Flewnt’s Boorloo Block Party.
Groundbreaking dance and theatre collective The Farm returns to Perth with their genre-bending Stunt Double stepping inside the power dynamic of a 1970s Aussie action-flick. It is one of many thrilling new Festival commissions across the program, including Mutiara, a brand-new Broome-Malay dance and theatre collaboration by the much-loved company Marrugeku.
Perth Festival’s celebration of local artists continues with the world-premieres of Geordie Crawley and Elise Wilson’s immersive cabin-in-the-woods thriller Logue Lake and the post-sunset joy of Black Swan State Theatre Company of WA’s world premiere production The Pool at Bold Park Aquatic Centre. Nearby, West Australian Ballet’s ever-popular Ballet at the Quarry returns to the Quarry Amphitheatre.
After the success of Perth Moves in 2023, STRUT Dance is back to celebrate movement, music, connection and community at its free 10-day dance hub. In Wayfinder an inflatable set and kilometres of coloured thread feature in Dancenorth Australia’s explosion of dance, music and visual art created with three-time Grammy-nominees Hiatus Kaiyote and Japanese-Australian visual artist Hiromi Tango.
Across galleries and site-specific projects, visual artists ask audiences to consider sustainability and the tension between heat’s creative and destructive power. The entire Visual Arts program is free, including iconic US artist Joan Jonas’ first Australian exhibition Sun Signals, the largest Australian showing of Yhonnie Scarce’s glass and mixed media works in her solo show The Light of Day and Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija’s public art provocations that will appear around town throughout the Festival.
Exhibitions featuring Helen Johnson, A.K. Burns, Robert Fielding, Susan Flavell, Andrew Nicholls, Curtis Taylor and many others also brighten up gallery spaces across the city. In 2024 DADAA comes together with three Japanese arts and disability organisations to reframe our understanding of disability arts and culture with A Rising in the East. While at Fremantle Arts Centre, First Nations perspectives and knowledge are the focus of the group exhibition Polarity: Fire & Ice.
From Friday, February 23 to Sunday, February 25, Writers Weekend has a new home at the State Library of Western Australia, as Perth Festival reimagines the writers’ festival experience in an exciting new partnership with Writing WA. After a special opening evening with Deborah Conway, there will be two days of inspiring sessions across every form and genre with guests including Brenda Matthews, Laura Jean McKay, Christos Tsiolkas, Mok Zining, Natasha Lester, Holden Sheppard and A.J. Betts. Acclaimed American writer Jane Smiley closes the weekend as she discusses her thrilling new novel A Dangerous Business. More names will be announced with the full program released in December.
Over the previous weekend, the Ideas Program will see the free Ngaank Talks series light up the afternoon at UWA Somerville and staged readings of Victoria Midwinter Pitt’s I’m With Her will be in the evening at the Octagon Theatre next door.
To usher in summer ahead of the main Festival, our Lotterywest Films season returns to UWA Somerville on Monday, November 20 with the Australian premiere of Copa 71. In James Erskine and Rachel Ramsay’s crowd-pleasing documentary, the pioneering women players and unseen archival footage tell the extraordinary story of the 1971 Women’s Soccer World Cup, a tournament that attracted record crowds but has been largely written out of sporting history.
Copa 71 leads a 19-week line-up of the best new international films including the Oscar-nominated feature EO, the Cannes Grand Prize-winning historic drama The Zone of Interest, Cannes Palme d’Or winning thriller Anatomy of a Fall, Spanish charming deadpan comedy animation Robot Dreams and Wim Wenders’ return to form with his poignant Japan-set film about finding beauty in the everyday, Perfect Days.
Perth Festival will also hit the road again to share their Touring WA program of dance, music and films with audiences from the Great Southern to the Pilbara. Those spreading the magic include Paul Kelly in Kalgoorlie, Dancenorth Australia’s Wayfinder in Albany, Bunbury, Geraldton and Karratha, and a First Nations music and culture celebration Flewnt’s Block Party Boom in Geraldton, Busselton and Broome.
Also creating bridges between artists and audiences will be Perth Festival’s Connect program of arts sector support, creative learning and community engagement opportunities.
“Our 2024 Festival will be filled with light, life and love,” said Artistic Director Iain Grandage. “This Festival will bathe us in warmth like our nearest star and have us celebrating our shared lives under the same sun. We celebrate not only our shared humanity, but also Ngaangk’s effect on the Earth and the botanical marvels that grow here.
“Our Festival speaks to the life-giving sun above and the energy that radiates within us all. We cannot wait for you to join us — we hope to make your faces shine.”
Perth Festival runs from Friday, February 9 to Sunday, March 3, 2024. Lotterywest Films runs from Monday, November 20, 2023, to Sunday, March 31, 2024. For more info and to buy tickets, head to perthfestival.com.au