Malia Walsh is the acrobatic mastermind behind Can’t Face, a circus and cabaret combination featuring some of Australia’s top circus acts. Walsh uses the accessibility of circus to “find the joy in the grotesque and the things that we can’t talk about. [Circus] is short, sharp, and assertive, but it’s a lot of fun,” she says. “I had a lot to say about being an adult and about women’s issues and politics and I think circus is a great medium for it. It’s so palatable.”
“We all just want to have a laugh but there are so many terrible things going on – the Trump administration, women’s rights – but if I keep putting marshmallows in, it’s funny and we can laugh together.”
Similarly, Elena Kirschbaum uses lighthearted circus to incite larger conversations by “playing with and challenging gender norms, sex, and sexuality.” After great success with Papillon, Kirschbaum is back with her new show ROUGE, which “is also just a little bit political” she says. “We offer a bit of tease in the form of nudity, but we definitely push it a bit further.”
ROUGE aims to shock and excite audiences. “Lots of theatre-going adults think they’ve seen everything.” Kirschbaum says. “When you can surprise a laugh, or get them to gasp for a skill they’ve never seen before, that’s when the magic happens between audience and theatre maker.”
The boys behind smash hit circus show Elixir have created a new platform to show off ‘those that made the cut’ in Circus’cision. Tom Gorham from Head First Acrobats prefers adult circus to children’s circus as “there can be more layers and complexity. Circus’cision suits our personalities and physical abilities. It also really suited our brand and style of humour we had explored previously through other shows.”
Head First’s cyr wheel acrobat, Rowan Thomas, has switched up his work to suit an older audience. “Thomas’s routine kills it,” Gorham explains, “usually it has been a surprise – this is the first time the nudity is advertised – it used to be a bit of a secret.”
Get along to one of the shows where, as one ROUGE review puts it: ‘everything is performed with a wink and the kind of smile that makes you want to drop your knickers and have a fiddle’.