Perth Festival 2024
Image: Wundig Wer Wilura
Perth Festival 2024 promises “stories from here and around the globe that celebrate our shared humanity under the same sun” from 9 February to 3 March.
To close Artistic Director Iain Grandage’s five-year cycle, audiences are invited 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.”
Diverse new voices and major stars are promised including such 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 commission from Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse - Wundig wer Wilura - the Noongar Dreaming story of two star-crossed lovers whose souls are separated forever in two mountains facing each other outside York.
A twilight of togetherness is promised at Supreme Court Gardens as the sun sets on Perth Festival 2024 with the free Lotterywest Closing Event Under the Same Sun. Aboriginal and international musicians – among them Angélique Kidjo, Emma Donovan, Lior, Sampa The Great, Mama Kin, Maatakitj, Paul Kelly, Flewnt, Shane Howard and Stephen Pigram – collaborate on songs that celebrate nature, nurture and shared futures under the same sun.
For more than three weeks in between, audiences can relax, revel and reflect in equal measure at a Festival made for everyone, anywhere from indoor theatres, galleries and concert halls to beaches and parks, suburban streets and even a subterranean food court and public pool.
At 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 City of Sterling, Nightwalks with Teenagers sees young people lead a friendly neighbourhood tour to discover the city’s streets with different eyes.
Image: Jungle Book reimagined - credit Ambra Vernuccio
The Akram Khan Company returns to Perth with a 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. A single tree speaks volumes at the centre of Ontroerend Goed’s palindromic eco-drama Are we not drawn onward to new erA.
Below the streets of Perth life reclaims the empty Carillon City basement food court through the 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.
Composer Jonathan Mills’ operatic adaption of Murray Bail’s Miles Frankin Award-winning Eucalyptus is part Australian fairytale and part word-painting of the Australian bush. This world-premiere concert features an Australian cast performing with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and West Australian Opera Chorus.
At Perth Concert Hall, the diverse music program begins with Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi and ends with the 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 present their poetic synergy of film and music River, narrated on screen by Willem Dafoe.
Image: Angélique Kidjo - credit Fabrice Mabillot
Five-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo and Australian troubadour Paul Kelly will appear at Perth Concert Hall, with Noongar artist Maatakitj supporting Kidjo on her Australian tour.
On the closing weekend, Zambian performer Sampa The Great brings her crowd jumping mix of rap, hip hop and R&B to 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 iblend of pop, R&B, soul, jazz and west African music.
The Rechabite in Northbridge will host 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), WITCH (Zambia) and Australian acts including Courtney Barnett and the First Nations artists in the returning Flewnt’s Boorloo Block Party.
Image: Flewnt's Block Party - credit Jess Wharehinga
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 new Festival commissions across the program, including Mutiara, a brand-new Broome-Malay dance and theatre collaboration by Marrugeku. The celebration of local artists features the world-premieres of Geordie Crawley and Elise Wilson’s immersive cabin-in-the-woods thriller Logue Lake and Black Swan State Theatre Company of WA’s world premiere production The Pool at Bold Park Aquatic Centre. West Australian Ballet’s Ballet at the Quarry returns to the Quarry Amphitheatre.
STRUT Dance will 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.
Image: Wayfinder - credit Amber Haines
Writers Weekend (23 – 25 February) has a new home at the State Library of Western Australia. After the opening evening with Deborah Conway, there will be two days of 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. American writer Jane Smiley closes the weekend as she discusses her 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 at UWA Somerville and staged readings of Victoria Midwinter Pitt’s I’m With Her in the evening at the Octagon Theatre next door.
To usher in summer ahead of the main Festival, Lotterywest Films season returns to UWA Somerville on 20 November with the Australian premiere of Copa 71. In James Erskine and Rachel Ramsay’s documentary, the pioneering women players and unseen archival footage tell the story of the 1971 Women’s Soccer World Cup, a tournament that attracted record crowds but has been largely written out of sporting history.
Image: Copa 71
Copa 71 leads a 19-week line-up of new international films including the Oscar-nominated feature EO, the Cannes Grand Prize-winning historic drama The Zone of Interest, Cannes Palme d’Orwinning thriller Anatomy of a Fall, Spanish deadpan comedy animation Robot Dreams and Wim Wenders’ Japan-set film about finding beauty in the everyday, Perfect Days.
Touring WA will share a program of dance, music and films with audiences from the Great Southern to the Pilbara, including 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 the Connect program of arts sector support, creative learning and community engagement opportunities.
Artistic Director Iain Grandage says: ‘Our 2024 Festival will be filled with light, life and love. 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 9 February to Sunday 3 March 2024.
Lotterywest Films runs from Monday 20 November 2023 to Sunday 31 March 2024.
Festival Club members priority access booking period is open from Wednesday 25 to Sunday 29 October 2023.
General Public ticket sales open at 12pm WST on Monday 30 October.
BOOKINGS AND FESTIVAL INFO: perthfestival.com.au