A Look at LIFT 2024 with Kris Nelson

Discover the LIFT 2024 programme with LIFT's Artistic Director and CEO Kris Nelson. 

LIFT 2024 will take you on journeys that are deep and personal. It’s a festival that will catch your breath, spark your mind and rev up your imagination. There’s adrenaline too. It’s international theatre for your gut.

In this year’s festival, The Personal is Epic. Personal accounts of justice, exile and protest take on mythic proportions through barrier-breaking storytelling. LIFT artists will also Play The Future, Play The Past. You’ll find shows that reframe our history and bring a wild imagination to what tomorrow might be by offering feasts for the mind and by plunging you into sensation.


The Personal is Epic

What happens when women transgress the powers that be? Taboo-breaking Brazilian theatre makers Janaina Leite and Lara Duarte (São Paulo) and the fearless Clean Break (London) are about to show you. The world premiere of The Trials and Passions of Unfamous Women at Brixton House makes mythic the personal stories of the women on the stage, and immerses us in a theatre of justice.

Writer Nassim Soleimanpour (Berlin/Tehran) and director Omar Elerian (Milan/London) make an epic out of what it means to be an immigrant in time, and where home can be. ECHO (Every Cold-Hearted Oxygen) features a different local actor every night and is an experiment in concept touring that tests how we collaborate and who can tell our stories. Catch the world premiere at The Royal Court theatre.

At Southbank Centre, provocateur Cliff Cardinal (Toronto)’s gives you a radical riff on Shakespeare, The Land Acknowledgement or As You Like It. Cliff pummels political correctness and the process of reconciliation between Canada’s Indigenous peoples and its colonial settlers; all the while taking inspiration from the Bard and his own Lakota and Cree Indigenous heritage. With expert comic timing and devilish and dangerous charm, this is As You Like It as you’ve never seen it.


Play the Future, Play the Past

Come along to Bat Night Market where you can taste the food of the future. You’ll explore delicacy and disgust, ecological disaster, pandemics and the fickle nature of our palettes. Kuang-Yi Ku (Taipei/Eindhoven) and Robert Charles Johnson (London) offer you a night market toying with Asian futurism at Science Gallery London where performance, speculative design, science and snacks converge.

Two giants of the world’s stage, hailing from Ivory Coast and Cape Verde respectively, fuse West African and European sensibilities in electric performances, using resonances from the past as influences to create electrically stimulating happenings.

Ivorian choreographer Nadia Beugré (Montpellier/Abidjan) mischievously plays with ‘the gaze’ and masculinity with her quintet of nude men and their rolling hips and backsides in L’Homme rare. Her bold take on how Black male bodies are gazed upon and fetishised, calls upon imperial history with a deep sensuality and a point of view that’s just… punk. Get mesmerised at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Marlene Monteiro Freitas (Lisbon) has earned herself a fervent cult following in festivals and theatres around the world. Storming the stage at Sadlers’ Wells with Bacchae: Prelude to a Purge, she finally makes her UK debut. Carnival music from Freitas’ native Cape Verde collides with mawkish and transcendent movements. It’s a group piece that feels deeply personal and of epic proportions. It’s a cacophony. It’s absurd. It’s like someone dropped a Berocca down your spine.

LIFT has taken up residency in the City of London in a two-year programme called LIFT the City. It’s all about bringing bold ideas to iconic locations in the Square Mile, and offering the City’s workforce opportunities to play with wellbeing through a performance lens – during the festival and throughout the year.

Legendary Italian maker Chiara Bersani (Milan) takes over The Old Bailey’s grand hall with the monumental and poetic L’Animale – pulling together ideas of justice and toys with a classic of the dance canon. No two performances will be alike. We’re partnering with Financial Times to host an evening full of poems, films and provocations, Democracy From Where I Stand – leading thinkers and artists sound off at The Dutch Church. In a year where half the world’s population goes to the polls for national elections, recognising what democracy gives us has never been more vital than now. Not to mention that this spring, Coney (London) start up a series of Workplace Boosts that will offer City of London’s fundamental workforces a break from the everyday with playful interactions about their lives in the Square Mile.

Oh – and we’re collaborating on a conference! Along with the Royal Central School for Speech and Drama, LIFT is thrilled to welcome Performance Studies International to London. Hundreds of theatre and performance artists, thinkers and academics from around the world converge at PSi #29 – Assemble! – a conference taking place both online and at Senate House that responds to global issues and determines how we build together and what to take apart.


Join us this year for LIFT 2024

We’ve got three world premieres. For this edition, we’ve been focusing on creating opportunities for Londoners to work with international artists in dynamic collaborations – from building shows from the ground up to exploring Concept Touring models between here and abroad. These commissions are surrounded by some truly iconic presentations. It’s all in a climate of funding scarcity and aversion to risk. We’ve got faith though, and we couldn’t do it without the fearlessness of these artists, the shared vision of our presenting and commissioning partners and the support of our core funders Arts Council England, City of London Corporation among many others. LIFT 2024 is the result of the care, determination and expertise of a lot of incredible people, and I write this on behalf of our amazing team, crew, trustees and volunteers past and present who’ve made this edition what it is.

It’s a festival full of divergent perspectives, difference and complex cultural conversations. We invite you to come together in spaces where theatre will connect you to daring ideas and voices of our times and with each other in a place where you can share, disagree, experience together a festival rich in experiences and ideas.

We’re making this festival during a complex global moment; amidst a climate crisis, a cost of living crisis, and war and turmoil in a number of global regions. LIFT’s aim is and always has been to champion international perspectives, to amplify lesser heard voices, and to be a place that can hold diverse experiences and points of view. That includes internally as a team and organisation, and amongst our audiences, whilst respecting and caring for each other as a priority. In that spirit and taking all those things to heart – we wish you a powerful festival experience full of discovery and dialogue.”