RISING announces epic 2024 program of new music, art and performance

Lucy Guerin Inc's 'One Single Action'.
Lucy Guerin Inc's 'One Single Action'.

RISING, Melbourne’s premiere festival of new music, art and performance, has unleashed its sweeping 2024 program, featuring 105 events, more than 480 artists, 23 new commissions, six world premieres and eight Australian premieres, set to take the city as a stage as winter begins from June 1 – 16.

Across 16 nights, spanning three epic weekends, RISING will stretch down the spine of Swanston St and beyond as large scale installations, free public events and world-class contemporary music, theatre and dance, ignite the city’s streets, venues and hidden spaces.

Historic arcades and back alleys will come alive with art exhibitions, performances, micro-bars, art and dance classes. A transformed Melbourne Town Hall hosts a sprawling day party across the King’s Birthday long weekend. Epic and ethereal sound works echo from the Birrarung through the CBD, St Paul’s Cathedral becomes a site of mass music making, and First Nations art goes large at Fed Square.

“RISING 2024 is a festival that belongs to Naarm, Melbourne. Some of the most exciting voices in art, music and performance offer moments of catharsis and reflection with mass music making in a church or summoning the cosmos in our town square,” said RISING Co-Artistic Directors Hannah Fox and Gideon Obarzanek. “The most important part is coming together to be thrilled, bemused, shaken or delighted.”

RISING’s theatre, dance and performance program features world premieres, epic new commissions and works that challenge, entertain and provoke.

At Melbourne Town Hall, ILBIJERRI Theatre Company present Big Name No Blankets, a rock ‘n’ roll story celebrating the trailblazing music icons, Warumpi Band and inspired by tales from founding member Sammy Tjapanangka Butcher. The epic new commission, co-directed by theatre icon Dr Rachael Maza AM and Anyupa Butchercranks the amp andplugs into to the heart of Papunya via Sammy’s tales of the Warumpi Band — Australia’s original First Peoples rock stars, known for their anthems ‘Blackfella/Whitefella’, ‘My Island Home’ and ‘Jailanguru Pakurnu’.

An illusionist’s dinner party becomes an absurd meditation on human consumption in FOOD, an Australian premiere at MTC Lawler, from poetic illusionist and master clown from New York, Geoff Sobelle. Audiences gather round the stage-sized table where at first, Sobelle plays the fine-dining waiter. Then he’s off: tracing the history of food — way, way back into distant fields of buffalo and grain. It’s sensory time travel with a surreal sizzle. But make sure you eat before you come.

8/8/8 is a durational performance work, a utopian, maximalist epic of experimental performance from Melbourne theatre-makers Harriet Gillies and Marcus McKenzie. The first part of the triptych, 8/8/8: WORK, presented at RISING 2022, was an eight-hour immersive experience, highlighting the absurdity and violence of modern workplaces. 8/8/8: REST shifts gears by delving into the unconscious on an 8-hour nocturnal journey through the many levels of Arts Centre Melbourne: a murky dreamscape where capitalist models of success are rejected, and individual identities are dissolved.

In a world premiere presentation from Lucy Guerin Inc, One Single Action (in an ocean of everything) sees dance duo Amber McCartney and Geoffrey Watson ride the internal and external rifts in a world fraught with interference. In and out of sync, they move in conflict and in harmony — through fragmented terrain that leads in one direction. In an attempt to interrupt the acceleration of our times and pause the relentless scrolling of their anxieties, they resort to a single desperate action.

In Burnout Paradise at Malthouse, endorphin levels surge early, and harried euphoria takes hold, as four performers from Pony Cam Theatre Collective run over 15km on treadmills, manically multi-tasking before burn-out sets in. They simultaneously prepare a three-course meal, apply for an arts grant, recite a soliloquy from Hamlet, and call a game of Bingo with the audience… all the while running as if their lives depended on it.

In a new RISING commission, ECLIPSE at Melbourne Town Hall, a war is raging between two of Naarm’s fiercest kweens CERULEAN and Stone Motherless Cold, with special guests from across the multiverse. A First Peoples future-forward drag show that spans the ages — from the Big Bang(er) to the Paleocene, through the Beyoncé epoch and into the Blak queer future that awaits us all. Destroy the empire and dance among its remains in this world premiere.

S. Shakthidharan’s acclaimed Sri Lankan-Australian saga, the multi-award winning Counting and Cracking, makes its long awaited Victorian debut at RISING, co-presented with University of Melbourne Arts and Culture (UMAC) at the new Union Theatre. The breathtaking production, co-produced by Belvoir St Theatre and Kurinji and directed by Belvoir’s award-winning Artistic Director Eamon Flack, follows four generations over five decades from Sri Lanka to Sydney, and tests the complex strength of family love.

At the Immigration Museum, enter the innermost realm of iconic Melbourne dance company Chunky Move’s latest work where the walls quiver, and time contorts. You, Beauty is a cavernous and intimate performance experience that moves between hard exteriors and soft interiors. Inside the Immigration Museum’s stately Long Room, a giant undulating inflatable acts as an explorable theatre and a sculptural form. Two dancers converse with each other and the abstract mass, as it warps and stretches.

Arkadia, Melanie Lane’s new dance opera at Substation, invites audiences to step through a wishing well into a utopian realm. Inspired by Greek mythology, it’s a Garden of Paradise where gods, nymphs and aliens transform. Bodies unite and suspend as entities tense and stretch the in-between of the natural world and advanced technologies.

Queered Filipino myths surface through dance, installation, masquerade and haute couture costuming in artist Justin Shoulder’s ANITO at Arts House. Live soundscapes flood the space as performers morph between animal, plant, human and machine. It’s the latest evolution of his theatre-dance-art hybrid. A work of Filipinix future-folklore that charts humanity in a reverse spiral. Meet us at the RISING premiere for myths reimagined.

Also at Arts House, Ghenoa Gela with Force Majeure in association with ILLBIJERRI Theatre Company, present Gurr Era Op. Torres Strait Islander women dance and weave stories of connection and culture, as their homeland is threatened by rising seas and climate catastrophe. Led by choreographer Ghenoa Gela, they weave the wisdom of creation stories into an urgent call from the now.

RISING runs from 1 – 16 June, and tickets are now on sale. For more information, visit 2024.rising.melbourne.

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