La Jolla Playhouse Unveils Initial Programming for 2024 WOW Festival

The WOW Festival will take place April 4 – 7 on the UC San Diego campus.

By: Mar. 01, 2024
La Jolla Playhouse Unveils Initial Programming for 2024 WOW Festival
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La Jolla Playhouse Unveils Initial Programming for 2024 WOW Festival  La Jolla Playhouse has revealed initial programming for the 2024 WOW Festival of immersive and site-inspired work, presented in partnership with UC San Diego. The WOW Festival will take place April 4 – 7 on the UC San Diego campus, where the inaugural WOW Festival took place in 2013.

Like previous WOW Festivals, the 2024 event will feature four action-packed days of theatre, dance, music, puppetry, spectacle events, and more, with multiple performances by acclaimed local, national and International Artists occurring throughout the weekend. All projects at the WOW Festival will be offered free of charge, with reservations recommended for select performances with limited capacity. The full WOW Festival schedule and reservations will be available in early March. Please visit for more information.
“The lineup for our 2024 WOW Festival once again offers a thrilling combination of intimate and large-scale spectacle events, created by acclaimed local, national and International Artists – all free of charge,” said Christopher Ashley, the Rich Family Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse. “We are overjoyed to celebrate this four-day, community-wide event in partnership with UC San Diego. Returning to the site of our very first WOW Festival in 2013, is a wonderful full-circle moment.”
“We are delighted to welcome the WOW Festival back home to UC San Diego and build upon our long-time partnership with La Jolla Playhouse,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “The festival exemplifies the uniqueness of our campus community as it celebrates innovation, pushes boundaries and stretches our thinking. As our campus continues to transform into a regional destination, we look forward to using immersive art as a way to introduce guests to new spaces like the Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood and the Epstein Family Amphitheater, as well as highlight the world-renowned Stuart Art Collection and beautiful architecture on campus.”
The WOW Festival lineup will include 59 Acres, by the Los Angeles-based Dutch artist Marike Splint (2017 WOW Festival’s Among Us; Digital WOW’s You Are Here); The Apple Avenue Detective Agency, by the Los Angeles-based Mister and Mischief (2022 WOW Festival’s 40 Watts from Nowhere); Beautiful Escape: Emergency Exit, by the French company ADHOK; Bring Back the Happening, by the Dutch company Nineties; Damoclès, by France’s Cirque Inextremiste; Duo, by the Taiwan-based 0471 Acro Physical Theatre; Erin The Caterpillar → Butterfly, by the San Diego-based Friendly Futures; Inertia, by New York-based artist Drew Petersen; iykyk, by the San Diego-based Blindspot Collective (2023 WOW Festival’s salty water; 2022 WOW Festival’s Black Séance, Digital WOW’s Walks of Life); Les moutons, by the Toronto-based CORPUS (2022 WOW Festival’s La Bulle, 2015 WOW Festival’s A Flock of Flyers); Pásale Pásale, by San Diego’s TuYo Theatre (2023 WOW Festival’s Las Cuatros Milpas; 2022 WOW Festival’s On Her Shoulders We Stand); Reflexion, by the San Diego-based ArtBuilds; The Running Show, by the New York-based Monica Bill Barnes & Company; and Spectrum: Society of Wonder, by San Diego’s Animal Cracker Conspiracy (2022 WOW Festival’s Transmythical; Digital WOW’s Society of Wonder, 2015 WOW Festival’s Gnomesense). Additionally, the Playhouse will present performances of the 2024 Performance Outreach Program (POP) Tour, Abeba in the Tall Grass, on Saturday and Sunday of the WOW Festival. A complete roster of projects will be announced in the coming weeks.
The WOW Festival will also feature several UC San Diego projects, including Princess Lockerooo’s The Fabulous Waack Dancers: The Big Show, presented by ArtPower; Folding Futures, by Origami Air Co, presented in collaboration with MAVERiC Studio in the Design and Innovation Building, along with a play-test installation in partnership with Birch Aquarium, Mandeville Gallery and Do Ho Suh/Stuart Collection’s Fallen Star. The Department of Theatre & Dance undergraduate students will also be producing two WOW projects under the mentorship of faculty members Christopher Khul and Deborah Stein: Home and Fallen Star(s). 
The Playhouse’s signature Without Walls (WOW) series has become one of the region’s most popular and acclaimed performance programs. Since its inception in 2011, the Playhouse has been commissioning and presenting this series of immersive, site-inspired and virtual productions throughout the San Diego community, including eight stand-alone productions, six WOW Festivals and fourteen Digital WOW pieces.
Founded as an experiment in 1960, UC San Diego scholars aren’t afraid to challenge convention if it means they can accelerate answers to our society’s most pressing issues. As one of the top 20 research universities in the world, they are driving change far beyond its walls to advance society and propel economic growth. And the world has taken notice. UC San Diego's main campus is located near the Pacific Ocean on approximately 1,200 acres of coastal woodland in La Jolla, California. The campus sits on the ancestral homelands of the Kumeyaay Nation. Kumeyaay people continue to have an important and thriving presence in the region. UC San Diego's rich academic portfolio includes eleven academic, professional and graduate schools and eight undergraduate residential colleges. UC San Diego is also home to the prestigious Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the UC San Diego Health System.

La Jolla Playhouse is a place where artists and audiences come together to create what’s new and next in the American theatre, from Tony Award-winning productions, to imaginative programs for young audiences, to interactive experiences outside our theatre walls. Founded in 1947 by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer, the Playhouse is currently led by Tony Award winner Christopher Ashley, the Rich Family Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse, and Managing Director Debby Buchholz. The Playhouse is internationally renowned for the development of new plays and musicals, including mounting 120 world premieres, commissioning 60 new works, and sending 36 productions to Broadway, garnering a total of 38 Tony Awards, as well as the 1993 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.
WOW Festival Projects

59 Acres

By Marike Splint
Los Angeles, CA
Grab your headphones and comfy shoes for a site-specific, immersive soundwalk that takes you on an urban odyssey exploring the built environment and natural world around La Jolla Playhouse and UC San Diego. This poetic, meditative and innovative work offers new ways of seeing and listening as it navigates you through the physical, cultural and geographical landscapes we inhabit, in search of the extraordinary amidst the mundane.

Abeba in the Tall Grass

La Jolla Playhouse 2024 POP Tour
Written by Jonathan Norton and directed by Nikki Mirza, Abeba in the Tall Grass is about a fifth-grade aspiring horticulturist and the urban garden that has become her sacred space. Through encounters with the school goof-offs, she realizes that, like plants need water and light to flourish, people need friendship and community to thrive.

The Apple Avenue Detective Agency

By Mister and Mischief
Los Angeles, CA
Inspired by real childhood events, this adventure inducts audiences into a pint-sized investigator club to uncover local mysteries and find closure for a good friend in very real trouble. Mischievous and deeply personal, this playable coming-of-age tale takes audiences from a backyard clubhouse through the nooks and crannies of the neighborhood, all the way to the treacherous border of growing up. When you’re a kid the world is full of mysteries, and no one solves them alone.

Beautiful Escape: Emergency Exit

With life expectancy more than doubling in the last century, what does it mean to be old? Featuring seven actors between ages 60 and 80, this trilogy of performances reflects on childhood, adulthood and senescence. Poetic, non-narrative and conceived for the street, this promenade of theatre and dance highlights our perception of getting older, the fears it carries and the treasures it hides

Bring Back the Happening

By Nineties
“Happenings” in the tumultuous 1960s reflected the need for disruption. Dutch contemporary theatre collective Nineties convenes a “happening” – neither a play nor a show – as an interactive, high-spirited way to connect with others, find healing and leave behind all worldly dislocation – if only for a moment. Surrender to a lively theatrical ritual underscored by a lush soundtrack (and maybe a few dinosaurs).


By Cirque Inextremiste
Faced with a collective perception of danger, audience members must confront a potential obstacle – together – in this participatory performance. Can we trust one another and decide on a common course of action to solve a problem? Can we all be the leader of the group? Damoclès is a show where the audience are the actors -- and maybe the heroes!


By 0471 Acro Physical Theatre
This dance-infused acrobatic circus performance from Taiwanese company 0471 Acro Physical Theatre is an eloquent, subtly layered feat of artful invention. Two agile performers combine technical prowess and emotional expression to tell a story about the shifts, twists and turns of an ever-changing relationship. Whether lifting each other up or bringing each other down, they display physical grace, strength and emotional vulnerability, demonstrating how everything they have to “say” is in their bodies.

Erin The Caterpillar → Butterfly

By Friendly Futures
San Diego, CA
Welcome to our Playdate for all ages! Our design friend, Erin The Caterpillar → Butterfly, architecturally classified as Friendly Wall v004, is a joyful playsculpture that breaks out into gamified and functional objects and seating. It demonstrates how design can be used as a tool to ignite people - particularly adults! - to play, and in doing so guides people to connect, communicate, and collaborate. Big picture, we find the silly design to have serious implications, as we believe that being friendly is the next frontier in well-being.

Fallen Star

By Do Ho Suh
UC San Diego – Stuart Collection
Explore notions of home with an art installation that looks like a small cottage has been picked up, as if by some mysterious force, and “landed” atop Jacobs Hall. The remarkable Fallen Star sits crookedly on a corner of the building, cantilevered out over the ground seven stories below, and features a lush garden and panoramic views of the UC San Diego campus and beyond. Inside, its incongruent angles cause a sense of dislocation – some would say vertigo – and prompt ideas about cultural displacement and one’s perception of space while the visitor physically and mentally accommodates a new perspective of the world.

Fallen Star(s)

By UC San Diego Department of Theatre & Dance Students
A group of irreverent, clout-chasing influencers get trapped in the famous art piece, Fallen Star. As things start going supernaturally wrong, the streamers have to figure out why they’re trapped and how to get out. Can they get their audience to help them escape – or will they be stuck there forever? Fallen Star(s) explores how the faulty emotional connections between influencers and their fans are caused by the sensationalism of social media.

Folding Futures

By Origami Air Co.
UC San Diego – Design and Innovation Building
See the strange, and change the future as a Time Tourist to the year 2064. Guided by Systems Rangers and their Ai Guardian, Ava Waters, you will make first contact with the incredible world that is the future of Earth. Travel beneath the Ancient Redwood forests of Cascadia to the home of a newly discovered creature emerging from the "Otter World." Along the way, the Intertemporal Quantum Reality Operating System will send its agents and Paradox Researchers with an opportunity to take the future into their own hands.


By Drew Petersen
New York, NY
This touching and humorous “theatrical encounter” invites the audience into an exploration of how we, in this moment, are all at the center of both our individual and communal stories – and what role art plays in it. Interactive prompts, movement, personal narrative and lush sound design are some of the techniques and elements that will transport audience members to the generative center of the artistic experience.


By Blindspot Collective
San Diego, CA
Step into the provocative world of youth and rebellion at the iconic Che Café. Featuring nine unique performances that promise a kaleidoscope of experiences celebrating counter-culture, protest, revolutionary conversations and the spirit of defiance. iykyk is about choice. Will you choose the allure of a captivating musical, the graceful movements of a spellbinding dance, or the thought-provoking narrative of a poignant play? The power is in your hands.

Letters to Home

By UC San Diego Department of Theatre and Dance Students
Moving to a new home often involves us packing our most precious items into a slew of cardboard boxes and reminiscing about fond memories as we prepare to transport our belongings to a new location. Join us as we attempt to navigate the in-between stage of life where we’re forced to choose what to take with us and what to leave behind. We invite you to build, decorate and create the space to make it your own.

Les moutons

Toronto, Canada
Travel to a strange and hilarious universe where reality meets fantasy as Canadian company CORPUS reveals a carefully studied, surrealistic overview of sheep behavior. You’ll meet Julie, Marie-Louise, Bernadette and César – three healthy ewes and a young ram – in the recreation of a bucolic country scene where routine activities include shearing, feeding, milking and more. This truly innovative performance twists reality in surprising ways and takes audience interaction to new and surprising heights!

Pásale Pásale

By TuYo Theater
San Diego, CA
Pásale Pásale is a heartwarming and humorous musical that immerses audiences in a vibrant world inspired by the National City Swap Meet. Señor Muchascosas has decided to raise the vendors' fees, creating a wave of anxiety among those already struggling to make ends meet. Audiences become active participants and stand in solidarity with the vendors on their journey towards self-determination. Amidst the laughter and music, Pásale Pásale unfolds as a celebration of community, resilience, and the power of unity in the face of economic challenges.

Princess Lockerooo’s The Fabulous Waack Dancers: The Big Show

UC San Diego – ArtPower
Experience the Epstein Family Amphitheater like never before, as the stage is transformed into a post-modern disco saloon, hosting the premiere of The Big Show, performed by The Fabulous Waack Dancers. The audience, welcomed as club goers and seated on-stage, will be immersed in the culture, history and scene of waacking as Princess Lockerooo, the “Queen of Waacking,” honors her mentor, pioneering queer Black waack dancer and Soul Train legend, Tyrone Proctor, and carries on his legacy through the dance he championed. Renowned composer Harold O’Neal contributes an energizing and nostalgic soundtrack that takes audiences on a musical journey through various eras of American Black music culture. 


By ArtBuilds
San Diego, CA
You hold the power to control the art in an installation that is a meditation on the competing, distorting and clarifying roles played by lenses and frames in contemporary life. By manipulating mirrored columns of individually rotatable prisms and nighttime custom lighting animations, audience members can shift perspectives, interact with the environment and each other, and discover something new.

The Running Show

By Monica Bill Barnes & Company
New York, NY
A 7-year-old falls in love with dance—40 years later, she works every day to stay in the game. Both live documentary and performance, this piece features a large cast of San Diego dancers from 12-80 years of age who have learned their parts over the week leading up to the WOW Festival. Interviews incorporate their voices and stories into the show, giving the audience an unprecedented look into the life of a dancer as a new kind of sports hero: one who keeps moving against all odds.

Spectrum: Society of Wonder

By Animal Cracker Conspiracy
San Diego, CA
Four celestial entities have arrived on the campus of UC San Diego to confront a mysterious force threatening to consume the very fabric of our existence. Using ancient star lore, the visitors conjure mythological beings to regenerate the Earth and guide humanity towards a luminous existence. Enlivened by a San Diego Symphony string quartet, this full-on puppetry spectacle channels the silly, supernatural and sublime, inviting us to appreciate the universe and our place in it.