Based on the novella by Erich Kästner
Adapted for the stage by Nicki Bloom

Produced by Slingsby

From Adelaide, Australia

About the Company



Young Emil catches a train to visit family, but something valuable is stolen and Emil ends up alone in the big city, lost and desperate. A group of quick-thinking and resourceful children rallies around, and the thief soon discovers Emil was not such an easy target. Can a bunch of kids work together to uncover and outsmart the criminal? 


EMIL AND THE DETECTIVES is a journey about discovery and self-discovery, the value of friendships and taking risks, and the empowerment of young people.  In Slingsby’s signature intimate theatrical style, the story is told by two skilled actors combining the thrilling intrigue of a classic caper with an evocative film noir design, complete with smoke and mirrors, miniature worlds and a cinematic score.

In addition to the main performance, Slingsby curates immersive pre-show audience engagement activities, including making a city. The pre-show areas are creatively reimagined to suit the individual layout of each venue.

Winner of the 2018 Helpmann Award for 
Best Presentation for Children!

Best for Grades: 3rd + up

Audience Size: 200 to 500 Audience Members

Please contact us to watch the full length archival recording.



Company Background

Past Tours: The Young King, The Tragical Life of Cheeseboy


Co-founded in 2007 by Artistic Director Andy Packer, Slingsby is an Adelaide based company that produces and tours original theatre that captivates, challenges and inspires international audiences of adults and young people. In ten years Slingsby has produced and premiered seven original productions and won 14 industry awards. We have an outstanding international reputation as artistic leaders, with performances in 83 venues in 57 cities across ten countries and growing.


Slingsby is acclaimed for its sophisticated aesthetic and complex emotional storytelling. We focus on sharing timeless, other-worldly stories of loss, hope and wonder, helping audience members find empathy for those around them and resilience in their own situations. Audiences are emotionally challenged, yet ultimately reminded of the wonders of life and infinite possibility of the universe.


In the ten years since founding in September 2007, Slingsby has:

  • Premiered 8 original productions including Songs for Those Who’ve Come Across the Seas, Emil and the Detectives, The Young King, an opera for families Ode To Nonsense, Man Covets Bird and The Tragical Life of Cheeseboy

  • Performed in 83 venues in 57 cities on 5 continents, including a two-week sell-out of The Young King on 42nd Street in New York and seasons in Madrid, Singapore, Canada, Edinburgh, Ireland, England, Norway, New Zealand, the Sydney Opera House, all of Australia’s mainland capitals and 11 regional South Australian towns.

  • Won 13 industry awards including two Ruby Awards and a Business SA Export Award.

  • Won the 2018 Helpmann Award for Best Presentation for Children with Emil and the Detectives.


For more information, please visit the company’s website.


Artistic Team

Performers: Elizabeth Hay and Tim Overton
Director: Andy Packer
Playwright: Nicki Bloom
Composer: Quincy Grant
Designer: Wendy Todd
Lighting Designer: Geoff Cobham
Costume Designer: Ailsa Paterson
Animation: Luku Trembath
AV Systems Design: Chris Petridis

Producer: Stacey Baldwin


Critical Acclaim

“The company’s theatre productions always have a sense of wonder and magic, and Emil and the Detectives delights, intrigues and astonishes its audience… A through line of Slinsgby’s is the notion of children coming of age, and Emil is a young innocent in a world which, although beautiful, harbours danger and mysterious figure… Emil and the Detectives is an outstanding piece of children’s theatre which makes it an outstanding piece of theatre and an experience to be savoured by all.” 

—InDaily – Greg Elliott, July 24, 2017

“For 10 years, Slingsby, under the meticulous direction of its founder Andy Packer, has been making captivating theatre for young audiences. Packer specialises in coming-of-age or getting-of-wisdom” stories and Emil and the Detectives is no exception… The performances are pitch perfect: Elizabeth Hay is understated and unfazed as Emil, and Tim Overton is a blaze of versatility as the Narrator, Grundeis and everybody else. Watching these detectives is a theatrical delight.” 

—The Australian – Murray Bramwell, July 25, 2017

“...Emil and the Detectives adds to Slingsby’s already substantial record of presenting entertainment for families that actually deal with important issues.” 

—The Advertiser – Peter Burdon, 24 July, 2017

"I just wanted to congratulate you on the wonderful show today... Initially, the students did ‘act up’ when the lights went out... as most kids do... I started to tense up as the noise of excited youth continued into the initial moments of the performance. When the lights started to pop up and fly around the room something magical happened; they stopped talking and were suddenly taken by this amazing vision. From that moment onwards, you had them…. I was amazed ...and slightly ashamed that I underestimated the students. Apart the wonderful experience of seeing your show, it showed me that children can still be children in this day and age. Storytelling still means something for young teens. It was a good lesson for me. Thank you."

—Adam, Teacher – via email

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Gallery of Past Productions


2018/2019 Dates

See the Company perform EMIL AND THE DETECTIVES:
December 21, 2018 – January 6, 2019 at Art Space for Kids in Shanghai, China

 May 27 – June 2, 2019 at Edinburgh International Children's Festival in Scotland, UK

See the Company perform THE YOUNG KING in North America in spring 2019:
April 8-21, 2019 at Carousel Theatre for Young People in Vancouver BC
May 1-3, 2019 at Hancher Auditorium, University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA
May 8-12, 2019 at Victoria Theatre Association in Dayton, OH
May 15-19, 2019 at Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University at Columbus, OH

Curriculum Connections

  • Fine Arts: Theater, Music, Production Design, and Adapting a play from novella

  • Language Arts: Symbolism, Narrative, Reading, Comprehension, Writing, Vocabulary

  • Emotional/Social Development: Compassion, Empathy, Ethical Behavior, Integrity, Coming of Age, Resiliency, Independence, Friendship, Leadership, and Teamwork


Sample Study Guides


Minimum Technical Requirements

  • Load In Time:  8 hours

  •  Crew Needs: Load in/Load out – 3 crew; Show run – Stage crew x 1; 

  • Min. Stage Size: 36 ft width x 23ft depth x 16.5 ft height. (this is inclusive of wing space necessary to hold scenery offstage)

  • Load Out Time:  2 hours

  • In addition to the main performance, Slingsby curates immersive pre-show audience engagement activities including making a city. The scale of the pre-show experience and the designated pre-show areas are creatively reimagined to suit the individual layout of each venue.

  • The presenter must provide two (2) front of house (FOH) staff or performers who are willing to wear costume elements (includes overalls & hat, provided by the company) and are comfortable facilitating a craft based activity with the audience before and after the performance. Prior to the first performance as part of the load-in schedule, Slingsby will provide basic script and direction to these FOH staff/performers who become the 'Train Conductors.’ Ideally there will be continuity in FOH staff/performers.


Outreach and Workshops

Slingsby is committed to providing access performances for the visually impaired and deaf communities if arranged with the company in advance. Please discuss audio-described (with pre-show touch tour) and signed performances during the booking of your engagement.

“Relaxed” or “Sensory Friendly” Performances

This performance is also available as a “sensory friendly” or “relaxed” performance if arranged with the company in advance and with specific direction as to what adjustments are necessary for your venue.

ph: 512-477-1859 | fx: 512-477-3908 | email: sk@holdenarts.org | P.O. Box 49036 | Austin, TX 78765