Rouge

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 is a circus show with strong artistic integrity. It fuses a unique mix of genres, with world-class acrobatics, opera, comic dance, and tongue-in-cheek burlesque, while also being outrageously fun, shocking, exciting and breathtaking. It is subtly subversive, highly entertaining and an unforgettable night out.

The show is subtly playful with notions of sexuality and gender, with performers subverting expectations throughout the performance. It depicts queer relationships (including bisexual ones), romance in non-exclusive relationships, non-binary characters, women having 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), and women being fierce, strong and powerful. Rouge shows diverse characters as fully formed people who our audience gets to know throughout the show.

Since its creation in 2017, Rouge has performed in Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, Perth, Barwon Heads, Port Douglas, Edinburgh, and London. Rouge won Best of Circus (Adelaide Fringe 2020), Weekly Award for Best Circus and Physical Theatre (Adelaide Fringe 2018), and Fringe World Weeklies (Perth 2019). It was recorded as having the third-highest number of ticket sales at the Adelaide Fringe out of 1200+ shows in 2018 and 2019.

Form and Style

Rouge is presented as an operatic circus cabaret. In form, it depicts sexuality and gender through aerial and acrobatic acts, vignettes, and recurring characters, such as a sexy lamp or the opera singer. The style is tongue-in-cheek and light-hearted.

The ethos behind the show was to make a sexy circus cabaret – something fun, exciting and a great night out.

But beyond that, if we were going to make a ‘sexy’ show then it was going to be on our terms. When we look around at many of the other sexy circus shows, we see a lot of the same things. 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’ or relationship with one another, and playing out sexuality in a way that we see in the media, that is directed for the male gaze.

We wanted to make a show that followed the way we think about sex. And the first thing we wanted to do was not to take ourselves too seriously. Because if you are making a show about sex, let’s start with the fact that sex can be silly, and awkward, and messy. That relationships can be complex. That funny is sexy, and sex can be funny. And we wanted to do this in a way that was fun, light-hearted, and not preachy, thereby also allowing us to reach a general, commercial audience.

Community Engagement

In the past, we have hosted introductory circus workshops (for a variety of ages, both linked and unlinked to the show), post-show Q&As with performers and the show’s creative team, and have even coordinated very informal engagement opportunities, such as just inviting the community to come have a coffee with us. Most venues have just booked the show, and asked if they could have community members take photos with the performers afterwards – in a socially-distanced and COVID-safe capacity, of course. But as Rouge is all about inclusivity and creating a safe space for discussions and representations of gender and sexuality, most of our engagement opportunities come from what the venues and community feels would best serve them, so if venues are interested in booking anything additional to the show, we are open to conversations on what forms this could take.

Reviews

“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’.” – WeekendNotes.com

“The performance is so high energy, so passionate and executed with such abandon that it can’t help but leave you feeling elated and empowered… if you aren’t turned on by this you might want to consult a physician, because you’re probably clinically dead” – SmutButtons.com

“…70 minutes was nowhere near the amount of time I wanted to spend in this psycho-sexual wonderland. We may only be halfway through Fringe World, but I am afraid that Rouge has pretty much ruined every show I have ever seen/will see until the day I die.” – Bella, Broadway

Available Marketing Collaterals

Rouge is the flagship show for the critically-acclaimed and nationally touring Highwire Entertainment. It has been touring to sold-out houses and stellar reviews since 2017, to festivals and venues in both metropolitan and regional areas. We have an extensive performance history and marketing collateral gathered, including:

  • Professional posters and flyer artwork, including hero images;
  • A professional video trailer;
  • Professionally filmed versions of live performing acts;
  • Photographs from a live performance;
  • A collection of stellar 4and 5-star reviews, from both national and international publications;
  • A strong and growing collection of awards and nominations, including Best of Circus at the Perth Fringe;
  • An strong social media presence;
  • And sample media releases.
Credits

The presenting company, Highwire Entertainment, is a proven Australia-wide circus powerhouse. With two producers in Perth, one in Melbourne, and one in Adelaide, the company has toured works all across the nation including sell-out seasons at Perth Fringe World of their adults-only circus, Rouge, and regional tours including Margaret River and Karratha. We are also gaining an international profile, with Rouge touring to Edinburgh and Coventry this August.

The show was directed by Elena Kirschbaum, Highwire’s artistic director and producer. Kirschbaum is also the co-owner of Gluttony, one of the largest venue hubs at the Adelaide Fringe Festival.

The cast of Rouge are highly-trained acrobats, dancers, and operatic singers, who come from across Australia. Many of the performers trained at the National Institute of Circus Arts, and are specialists in their chosen field. The cast includes:

  • Michaela Burger (writer and star of Exposing Edith and A Migrant’s Son, described as “an asset to the cabaret community”);
  • Paul Westbrook (BA in Drama at Exeter University, MA Classical Acting at the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, passionate dancer, former competitive trampolinist and trained actor);
  • Chris Carlos (internationally acclaimed performer and teacher, creator of the famous Spin Festivals, performer in Gravity and Other Myths);
  • Jessie McKibbin (graduate of the National Institute of Circus Arts with a renowned career in performing and circus rigging);
  • Lyndon Johnson (graduate of the National Institute of Circus Arts, performer in Gravity and Other Myths, record holder with titles in rock climbing, and the Australian Slackline record of 180m);
  • Rachael Boyd (toured with Gravity & Other Myths in Backbone, A Simple Space, and The Pulse, in more than 25 countries)
  • And Sarah Platts, as the touring technical stage manager and lighting designer (extensive 20+ year career in circus production, and winner of 3 Green room awards including best independent production and a Helpmann Award nomination for Best Production).

Acts in the show include duo and trio acrobatics, trapeze, hula hoops, straps, burlesque, cyr wheel, chair balance, handstands, fire, and whips.

Availability

From 2023

Artforms

Cabaret, Circus, Opera

Audience

Rouge appeals to a wide demographic with a commercially viable show, and has a record of sold-out seasons in both metropolitan and regional venues. The show aims to create a safe space for audiences to explore different views around relationships, gender, sex, and inclusivity. Our ideal target market are adults 18+, who are members or allies of the LGBTQ+ community, are advocates of women's rights, trans rights, gender diversity, and inclusivity. We also want to bring the show to communities that need more queer-positive characters and performers. When the show was created, we assumed it might resonate most with metropolitan audiences. Our first regional tour was to Queensland in 2021, where we visited some quite rural communities, and were initially trepidatious about the reception that some of the non-traditional elements of the show would receive. One of the tour's great successes was how whole-heartedly we were embraced by remote communities, who expressed the value of seeing queer relationships and diverse voices on stage. As a result, one of our goals is to reach target audiences in rural West Australian communities.

Duration

75 mins

Bump In

7-8 hours

Bump Out

2 hours

Costs

Weekly Fee: $12,500 + GST
Royalties: 10-12%

Company Contacts

Samantha Martin
0401 284 782
shows@highwire.com.au

Company Website

https://www.highwire.com.au



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Technical

Venue Format

Rouge can adapt to a wide variety of spaces, including proscenium arch, black box, thrust, big top circus tents, Spiegeltents, and halls.

Touring Party

7

Considerations

Maximum performances a week: 8

Does this show require a remount? No

First Possible Performance: 2 hours after bump-in.

Minimum Break Between Shows: 2 hours

Minimum stage dimensions: Minimum stage dimensions for a venue in the round: 5m x 5m central stage with 2m x 2m catwalk and 3m x 2m band stage minimum, but the show is flexible. Minimum stage dimensions for a proscenium arch or black box style venue: 6m wide x 5m deep, Ideally we prefer a stage that is 8m wide x 7m deep or greater. The show can be adjusted to fit larger or smaller stages.

Staging and Set Description: The stage must be a flat and level timber stage appropriate for circus acts involving balance. A minimum weight rating of 150kgs per square metre is required. A raked stage will compromise the quality of the show and may result in some acts being modified or cut from the performance. The show also requires a crossover from stage left to stage right and adequate wing space and masking in each wing for entrances & exits. If possible we prefer to also have an entrance to stage from up stage centre for performers.

Lighting requirements: Generic touring LX design will be available as a guide as a pre-rig is required for Rouge. The show will utilize a standard lighting rig available in most venues with additional specials, however to ensure that the design isn’t compromised we require the following as a minimum: LED wash fixtures (ideally moving head with zoom capability) to create full stage wash; 2 x Moving head spot profiles (ideally 4 x moving heads however the show can work with 2. Note: We can do a version of the show without moving heads but this requires a larger number of conventional lights to be pre-rigged. Please advise the production manager as soon as possible if this is the case); warm & cold front wash; 1 x Hazer (water based) & fluid

Audio requirements: Rouge requires the following: a mixing desk; a mac laptop or desktop with qlab for playback (the show can provide if one is not available at the venue); FOH PA system + amps suitable for the space; on stage monitors/ 2 x fold back wedges; 1 x sennheiser belt pack & receiver; 1 x hand held radio mic & receiver; and all appropriate leads.

Other technical or performance notes: We ask for two technical staff from venues – lighting and sound operators. Rouge has 2 aerial routines in the show – a single point trapeze act and an aerial straps act. The equipment will be paged or struck when it is not being used. The performers who are trained aerialists carry out all the mid-show rigging. There is an Australian Standard qualified rigger as part of the touring party. Venue Requirements for Aerial Act: grid access upon arrival for bump in; copy of venue plan at least 1 month prior to tour start date; at least 1 point in the grid with a minimum load rating of 1 tonne and a floor point with a minimum load rating of 1 tonne OR multiple point in the grid with minimum load rating of 1 tonne. Minimum height to aerial point should be 5.5m. If suitable rigging is not available at the venue, the aerial acts can be omitted from the show. There is also fire act in the show. If the venue is unable to accommodate fire, this act can be omitted. Fire safety requirements: aircon/ ventilation at venue to create circulation of airl fire alarm isolated prior to performance so it doesn’t go off and disrupt the event; venue to be equipped with a fire extinguisher and fire blanket; emergency access to site available and emergency exits clear; and venue has a first aid kit available. Our production manager will be on stand-by during the fire act to assist the performer if required.