While Elena Kirschbaum can’t be sure she still holds the title – ”people are always learning new skills” – the born and bred Canberran doesn’t perform the impressive feat as much these days.
“I actually injured myself doing it in Canberra at the National Folk Festival a few years ago. While it hasn’t stopped me from juggling them completely, it has meant that I slowed down a little bit,” she said.
“I broke a bone and a cluster of ligaments and cartilage in my wrist basically because chainsaws are really heavy, and you can’t use momentum so it’s completely a strength-based thing, obviously, and the standard juggling technique. I caught it at the wrong angle and it snapped part of my wrist and I had a long time of rehab to get my wrist working again.”
“But there was no chopping off of limbs or anything like that,” she laughs.
The performer now calls Melbourne home, and she has been touring in contemporary circus show Papillon since 2013.
Before leaving Canberra and joining the circus, Kirschbaum was involved in a completely different different kind of circus – running as a candidate for the Greens.
“I ran for the senate in 2007 and ran for the local ACT election in 2008,” she said.
“Both my parents had run for the Greens previously, and I had been very involved for a long time.”
She will be back in town when Papillon comes to The Street Theatre from September 29.
Kirschbaum is a producer and performer in the show, which is a cross between circus and cabaret.
“It’s sort of cheeky and a bit adult, so it’s quite a different show. It’s certainly not what you expect when you say I’m gonna go and see a circus show,” she said.
Papillon is on at The Street Theatre from September 29-October 1, and October 6-8. Tickets at thestreet.org.au.