Adelaide Festival highlights: Artistic Director Ruth Mackenzie’s top picks

Ruth Mackenzie, the Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival, shares her personal highlights for AF24, so you know exactly which shows to book first this season.

Taking place from 1 – 17 March, 2024, Artistic Director Ruth Mackenzie’s first Adelaide Festival program is a tribute to its strong tradition of featuring the best artists in the world, welcoming back many Adelaide Festival favourites in Robert Lepage, Stephen Page, Laurie Anderson, Barrie Kosky, Thomas Ostermeier, Angélique Kidjo and Akram Khan; and world stars new to Adelaide including Mario Banushi, Elizabeth Streb, Jacob Boehme, Édouard Louis and Víkingur Ólafsson.

Among Ruth’s Adelaide Festival highlights:

Baleen Moondjan

28 Feb – 2 March, Glenelg Beach

Stephen Page has chosen Adelaide’s beautiful Glenelg Beach for the world premiere of Baleen Moondjan, his first major commission since leaving Bangarra Dance Theatre. 

It’s inspired by a story from Stephen’s grandmother, from the Ngugi/Nunukul/Moondjan people of Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island). Set amongst giant whale bones, it depicts a proud Elder, a curious granddaughter and the day a baleen whale visits, in a celebration of First Nations stories and culture, and the human connection to earth, sky and sea.

Bring the family and your picnic rug to experience this spectacular work of striking choreography, live music and storytelling as the sun sets!


29 Feb – 3 March, Her Majesty’s Theatre

Adelaide Festival commissioned Narungga/Kaurna theatre-maker Jacob Boehme to develop this piece, based on stories from the Narungga people of Yorke Peninsula, with a collective of First Nations artists (including visual artist Kylie O’Loughlin, songwoman Sonya Rankine and songman Warren Milera), Narungga Elders, and non-Indigenous artists. 

Guuranda weaves together theatre, song, puppetry, dance and visual art to share ancient stories that are vital, violent, delightful and dangerous, for audiences 8 years and up.

I Hide in Bathrooms

5 – 16 March, Waterside Workers Hall, Port Adelaide, Yartapuulti

Absurd and darkly funny, I Hide in Bathrooms is a revealing meditation on mortality and romance from performance artist Astrid Pill, premiering at Adelaide Festival and presented by Vitalstatistix as part of their 40th anniversary celebrations.

Working with long-term collaborators including co-devisors Ingrid Voorendt, Zoë Barry and Jason Sweeney, Astrid draws on real life to create a funny and deeply moving work that fuses fiction with autobiography, reflecting on the experiences of losing an intimate partner, falling for someone whose partner has passed away, and traversing a relationship while dying.  

The Threepenny Opera

6 10 March, Her Majesty’s Theatre

Did you know that Brecht and Weill wrote The Threepenny Opera specifically for the Berliner Ensemble to perform when it premiered in 1928? The same ensemble comes to Adelaide in 2024 in Barrie Kosky’s new production that demonstrates its timeless power.

Set amongst the poverty, crime and corruption of London, follow notorious criminal Macheath, a.k.a. Mack the Knife and his gang for this biting mix of sex, sin, love, betrayal and anti-capitalist politics. 

The Promise

7 – 10 March, Space Theatre

The Promise delves into themes often overlooked in traditional songbooks, exploring women’s experiences of motherhood, identity and self-discovery, and began as a bold experiment at London’s famous Royal Court theatre. Wende, the star Dutch singer and composer, comes to Adelaide Festival for the first time with this powerful performance, co-written with leading writers EV Crowe, Debris Stevenson, Stef Smith, Somalia Nonyé Seaton and Sabrina Mahfouz. 

With mesmerising music and compelling storytelling, The Promise is an intimate theatrical concert that pushes the boundaries of musical tradition.

Time Machine

14 – 17 March, Her Majesty’s Theatre

Time Machine is an exhilarating work of physics, force and dance to entertain audiences of all ages. Extreme Action, a new art form invented by award-winning performer Elizabeth Streb, takes choreography beyond dance to defy gravity and push the human body to its limits. Using prototypic ‘Action Machines’ that move with and against them, her dancers become ‘Action Heroes’ who thrill, scare and delight their audiences. 

Since 1985, the company’s spectacles around the world have provided many jaw-dropping moments, including performing 120 metres in the air on the spokes of the London Eye for the finale of their One Extraordinary Day series for the 2012 Olympics.

Jungle Book reimagined

15 16 March, Festival Theatre

Akram Khan, another Adelaide Festival favourite, has reinterpreted Rudyard Kipling’s much-loved story through the eyes of a young climate refugee – a now-female Mowgli – who finds herself in a deserted modern city, where wild animals claim the streets as their own. The dancers’ incredible movements blend powerfully with state-of-the-art animation and a specially commissioned score. 

Speaking to audiences of all ages, Jungle Book reimagined reminds us of the need to respect our natural world, in a powerful piece of passion and activism. 

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