Adelaide Festival

Interview: Ruth Mackenzie CBE – Adelaide Festival 2024

Adelaide Festival Artistic Director Ruth Mackenzie CBE discusses the 2024 program

Every year the Adelaide Festival brings together the world’s best artists and acts to create a stunning program. The recently launched 2024 Adelaide Festival program is no different. 

The 39th Adelaide Festival, the first of the next three programs fully curated by Artistic Director Ruth Mackenzie CBE and Chief Executive Kath M Mainland, offers a thoughtful reconsideration and reimagining of the direction the Festival is taking in the 21st Century.

Bringing with them a wealth of global festival experience, having worked in Holland, Paris, Vienna, London and Edinburgh, and with the added expertise of Netherlands-based Associate Director Wouter Van Ransbeek, Ruth and Kath have curated their debut program with one eye firmly on upholding the Festival’s legacy of artistic excellence and strengthening Adelaide’s position as Australia’s premier international arts festival.

Artistic Director Ruth Mackenzie CBE spoke with Glam Adelaide about the 2024 program and what makes the Adelaide Festival such an important festival on the world map.

“The Adelaide Festival is the most important international festival in the Southern Hemisphere. It has its roots in festivals like Edinburgh International festival, and then of course the Fringe was born out of it. It also has helped bring its sister festivals, such as WOMAD and Writers Week, to be successful events as well. It also has a very distinguished track record in its ability to invite the stars or today and tomorrow to become part of it.”

Like so many, I sit and wait to find out what the centre-piece, the opera, is. The Nightingale looks like yet another stunning work. Ruth shared with Glam what was that drew her to this production.

“We have been able to fix the operas for 2024, 2025 and 2026. The operas provide the spine, if you like, for the next three Festivals. When we start looking at what makes a world class opera, It’s about finding the way for music at its highest level and theatre at its highest level to become one. was looking for two things: great theatre directors and great composers. I feel you need to bring in world class theatre names, so that even if you’re not an opera buff you’ll come because it’s going to be one of your favourite theatre directors.”

There are several nature and bird-related productions dotted throughout the 2024 program.

“To accompany The Nightingale, we have a lot of shows with connections to birds — it’s a bit of an Easter egg in the program. I asked lots of others who are performing with us to offer some birds, and that’s a very nice thing, people that want to just dig in and find a slightly unusual trail through the Festival.”

Climate Change is a passion of Ruth’s, and there are many performances throughout the program that reflect this.

“There’s a lot about biodiversity and climate change in the Festival, and I think Stravinsky would be surprised to discover that he was a climate activist. I’m not going to overly push that, but it just gave us another excuse to respond to incredible artists that are doing extraordinary work about one of the most urgent issues that we know. We’ve got Jungle Book Reimagined by Akram Khan, which sets The Jungle Book in a future city deserted by people because of climate disaster. 

“There is also the Floods Of Fire program with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the stunning Gondwana VR: the exhibition, which will also be a very different piece in the 2024 program.”

The 2024 Adelaide Festival is on sale now. With Christmas just around the corner, there is bound to be a production that would make a great gift for someone.

Check out the 2024 Adelaide Festival program here: https://www.adelaidefestival.com.au/whats-on/

Photo credit: Andrew Beveridge

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