Callan Harris – GODZ on Mt Olympus and Beyond

by | Sep 25, 2023

Back from sell-out international and national tours, GODZ, the Winner of the 2022 Melbourne Fringe People’s Choice Award now returns to the Fringe at  Festival Park .

This adults-only, jaw-dropping offering from the Head First Acrobats boys sees their unique mix of storytelling, circus, and physical prowess swell to godlike proportions.

And for cast member and graduate of the National Institute of Circus Arts, Callan Harris, the show offers a truly delicious signature moment for both audience and performer.

“I’ve got this solo ‘clown’ bit in our show that I absolutely love. It’s such a silly, cheeky moment where I’m out there, stark naked, with no music, and the whole audience is just cracking up. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience, and I look forward to it every single time.”

Now in its second year running, GODZ has been an absolute phenomenon with sell-out international and national tours and winning six coveted festival awards.

Harris says the concept for GODZ had been brewing for quite some time, but it always seemed to be put on the back burner. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, it presented the company with the perfect opportunity to bring this zany circus show to life.

“Despite facing the challenges of being in different states due to lockdowns, we had roughly two months to collaborate remotely,” explains Harris. “When we finally managed to come together in person, we realised that staying in one place would require us to cancel our shows in Perth due to the ever-changing lockdown situation. So, for four weeks, we found ourselves on the move, crafting the show in the living rooms of generous friends. The missing piece of the puzzle, which ultimately tied the entire narrative together, unexpectedly fell into place on the last day before the opening show. It was the perfect conclusion to our wild and unpredictable journey in creating this show.”

World class street performer turned contemporary circus artist, Harris is known all over for his formidable skill on the ladder as well as being an excellent all-around acrobat and in the show he wears several different hats.

“In addition to performing, one of my significant roles is as the head rigger. There’s a particular scene that really keeps me on my toes every night. I have to dash backstage, quickly change my costume, gear up with a harness, and then rush back to climb a truss to counterbalance one of our aerial performers. It’s a high-speed, high-risk moment that’s incredibly thrilling to execute. It’s a challenge for sure, but it’s also a ton of fun, and the adrenaline rush is worth it.”

Harris has been interested in performance since he can remember. “I was one of those annoying kids that wouldn’t stop begging for attention,” he says. He began performing magic when he was in high school, that eventually led to youth circus classes, and eventually busking – where he received the unofficial title of Australia’s Youngest Professional Street Performer.

Harris’ biggest inspiration, and now friend, is Danik Abishev. “I saw him on Australia’s Got Talent performing a handstand on a balance ladder that was set on fire! I went out the next day and bought a ladder as I wanted to be just like him! We’re now the only two people in Australia that can perform a handstand on a balance ladder.”

With its international and national tours, Harris says he has two favourite places to perform – each for very distinct reasons.

“First and foremost, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival holds a special place in my heart. It’s an absolute whirlwind of an event! What makes it truly exceptional is that it’s the one festival where all our friends from around the world converge in a single spot. It feels like a massive family reunion every time we’re there.

My second favourite place has to be Perth. What sets Perth apart are its audiences, which are absolutely electric! They bring an unparalleled 110% energy to our shows and they’re up for anything. We actually tailor our performances with the Perth audience in mind, aiming to deliver experiences that resonate with them, and we hope that this same energy captivates audiences worldwide.”

After the Melbourne Fringe Festival season GODZ heads off on another national tour of Australia hitting Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide, and finally to Brighton and Scarborough in the UK.

Renowned for being incredibly cheeky and highly provocative, Head First Acrobats are a Melbourne based troupe who are regulars on the international touring circuit. They are also a multi-award-winning entertainment company with an undisputed talent for developing shows that fast become the talk of the town.

Their first big smash bit was Elixir in 2018, with Harris explaining that he and his business partner, Thomas Gorham,  founded Head First Acrobats while they were still studying at NICA.

“At that time, Thomas was a teacher at the school having recently graduated himself. We decided to join forces because, at that time, creating our own work was essential to secure opportunities in a relatively limited industry. Our inaugural production ELIXIR was created for the Melbourne Fringe.

Fast forward a decade and we’ve come full circle. Now with our very own venue in tow – The Vault. This venue has been designed and customised to perfectly suit our shows, marking a significant milestone in our journey.”

As well as performing, Head First Acrobats will be managing the entire Festival Park site during the 2023 Melbourne Fringe Festival ; 12 events running across October. Harris acknowledges that it really just felt like the natural progression for the company.

“It definitely happened hard and fast once we acquired our first tent, but still felt quite organic.

We decided to pursue this opportunity for many reasons. For me personally one of the main motivations is to appreciate I’m not going to be an acrobat forever and this endeavour is a fantastic alternative, allowing me to participate actively in shaping the festival site and engage in numerous aspects of its development, which I find incredibly rewarding.”

Appearing one last time as a part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, don’t miss the chance to join Cupid (the God of Love), Hercules (the God of Strength) and Dionysus (the God of Wine) as they paint Ancient Greece red and bring you to the biggest party to hit Mount Olympus since 500 BCE.

Says Harris, “Forget your childhood memories of the circus and come to our shows with a fresh perspective!

Our performances have made a significant impact in redefining modern Australian circus. You’ll leave our show both amazed and thoroughly entertained; it’s truly an incredible experience that will leave you in stitches and in awe.”

October 3 – 29

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