Image: Brig Bee Photos

Highwire Entertainment


Highwire Entertainment specialises in circus and multi-artform performances and events. We have created and toured several original, award-winning works nationally and internationally, including Rouge, The Defiant, and Rebel.

We make work that is playful and exciting, bringing a sense of wonder and irreverence to theatrical spaces and non-traditional venues, through contemporary physical theatre, circus arts, and theatre for children and adults. One of Highwire’s primary focuses has been creating works that increase the profile, visibility, and representation of women and gender-diverse circus artists. We want to speak to those who have been traditionally under-represented or marginalised, by generating opportunities for diverse casting and access to high-level skills training. We extend this into our hiring practices as well, employing predominantly women and gender diverse designers and technicians. Notably, the current Highwire producing team are all women.

Director Elena Kirschbaum has been creating and producing circus since 2003. She casts a diverse range of artists, particularly championing queer and gender diverse representation. She believes that coupling politically progressive messaging with broad-appeal entertainment is one of the most powerful political tools that we have. One of our key achievements in this regard is the reception that our show Rouge receives in regional Australian venues. On Rouge’s first regional tour, we had one patron thank performers for creating more representation of queer voices, as it helped them to feel positively seen within their community. That is something we carry with us now into every regional tour.

Key achievements include:
+ Producing two nearly sold-out seasons of Rouge at the 2019 and 2022 Edinburgh Fringe Festivals;
+ Winning Best of Circus at the Adelaide Fringe for Rouge (2020) and The Defiant (2022); and
+ Receiving a 2021 Creative Ventures grant to launch our circus artist residency program, Livewire.


Rouge is a decadent blend of sensational acrobatics, operatic cabaret and tongue-in-cheek burlesque, a non-stop celebration of the astonishing, the surprising and the downright sexy!

Rouge ignites conversations and creates essential queer representation in commercial circus works. The ethos behind the show was to make a sexy circus cabaret on our terms. In similar-themed cabarets, we saw pretty women dressed up like ornaments performing tease acts, while a high status male host has the most stage time. Performers playing out heteronormative relationships and sexual intimacy on stage. Women having no ‘conversation’ with one another, with sexuality directed for the male gaze. We wanted to make a show that was subtly playful with notions of sexuality and gender, and subverted expectations.

Rouge depicts queer relationships, non-binary characters, women with sexual freedom and autonomy (that isn’t played out for the men in the room), and men sharing intimate moments that aren’t necessarily sexual (though sometimes they are). We have done this in a way that is fun, light-hearted, and not preachy, also allowing us to create a safe space for general adult audiences to explore different views around relationships, gender, sex, and inclusivity.

Rouge has broad appeal to a mainstream audience, particularly women 40+, which can be seen in the show being one of the highest selling shows in various festivals and theatre seasons. It also has a passionate demographic of younger audiences 25+ from the queer community and advocates of women’s rights, trans rights, gender diversity and inclusivity.

Since its inception in 2017, Rouge has consistently maintained a balance of artistic integrity and commercial viability, with sell-out show in both metropolitan and regional venues. It has also earned accolades such as the Best of Circus Award at Adelaide Fringe 2020, and in both 2018 and 2019 was recorded as the highest selling show at the Adelaide Fringe. We are excited to bring this critically and commercially acclaimed work to audiences across Australia and around the world.

“A tempting spectacle of sensuality and circus mastery.” – Travel & Lifestyle AU

“Welcome to a circus for the new age… Brilliant performances covered with rhythm and attitude and a certain aura permeates the venue that embodies the phrase, ‘Filthy and Gorgeous’.” –

Elena Kirschbaum