Image: The Photo Corner


Circa Cairns

In 2022, Circa Cairns was established as one of few First Nations-led professional circus ensembles, committed to creating great art from the nexus of culture and place. Based in Regional Far North Queensland, Circa Cairns is supported by Australia’s leading performing arts exporter, Circa, which has brought Queensland creativity to the world.

Fuelled by values of thrilling, challenging and connecting, Circa Cairns’ diverse team, which features a majority of First Nations artists, creates, presents and tours new circus productions and innovative engagement programs. Led by proud Wakka Wakka man, Harley Mann, the company tells urgent First Nations stories that are created with community on country.

Supported by Circa and Yaron Liftschitz, Harley and the Circa Cairns team already have a reputation for creating stand out critically acclaimed productions and are on track to pioneer the next generation of contemporary circus in Australia.

Culture and process are at the heart of what we do. We engage our communities to invite, excite and explore what is possible in circus.

Circa Cairns is based in Gimuy (Cairns) on the lands of the Gimuy Walubara Yidinji people.

We acknowledge that art has been practiced here over many millennia, and that it remains a fundamental way of life for the traditional caretakers and custodians of the lands on which we work, create and perform today. We acknowledge that we are here as visitors, and accept the responsibility to respect and care for these lands and tread lightly. Always was. Always will be.



Circa Cairns has an exciting approach to creating cultural circus from the nexus of culture and place. Over the past year, our First-Nations led circus ensemble, under the guidance of Wakka Wakka man Harley Mann, has been refining their artistic process in search of a story that is heartwarming, urgent and reflects the magnitude of their ambition. This story is called Son.

Percolated through the classical tales of the Odyssey, Oedipus and Pinocchio, Son wrestles with the importance of the father in shaping the identity of the son. This all-male circus work about the relationship between fathers and sons is accompanied by an all-female First Nations quartet performing live on stage.

Son unfolds around an open fire where the father has marooned the son like his father before him. Shifting between the current timeline of the son and the previous time line of the father experiencing the same process of initiation, we see intrinsically similar stories emerge through dynamic and cultural acrobatics.

The lines of separation between the two characters are blurred as acrobats shift between roles and the timelines shift back and forth. It becomes clear that the father and the son are the same character, and the desire to reach manhood and the desire for their father’s approval corrupts them both.

The story is embodied by four male First Nations acrobats and is sung into existence by the muse like voices of the all-female quartet Kardajala Kirridarra. The maternal voice in the work acts as a guide to provide wisdom, healing and to shape the story. The paternal voice in the work acts as the catalyst for cultural interrogation of identity.

Co-directed by Harley Mann and Alexander Berlage, Son has a medium footprint with 8 performers on stage bringing to life a healing work of modern cultural importance.

Session Times
PROFILE: Here’s Our Idea
Friday 9 June, 11:30am AEST


Baeley Dear