This Summer, Briefs comes to the Underbelly Festival with a brand new show, Close Encounters. With four sell-out runs in London and performances across the world, we chat to founder and director of Briefs, Fez Faanana.
Tell us a little about yourself and what motivated you to start Briefs?
I’ve always celebrated art and performance from an unconventional or alternate perspective. I came from a Samoan Australian upbringing with the expectation of a sporting career in rugby league. Turns out I was destined to be a bearded drag queen artistic director of my own production house. We started Briefs as a speak easy, a late night performance party destination and social refuge for people in Brisbane who were looking for somewhere safe, smart, interesting, unique and fun. An alternative to the mainstream queer nightlife in Brisbane which was quickly being run out of town.
How would you describe Briefs to someone who hasn’t seen it?
Briefs is the wonderfully warped wedding reception celebrating a ridiculous 4-way marriage of circus, drag, burlesque and theatre.
Briefs is returning to The Underbelly Festival this July, with new show Close Encounters, how is this one different?
Close Encounters is very different to The Second Coming. While it definitely continues the iconic Briefs brand the new show was an opportunity to show how we can bend, flex and grow as an independent production house. We wanted to make something fresh and new, something that would up the ante and build up from the successes of the previous show.
You’ve performed with Briefs all over the world, where has been your favourite and why?
We have been coming to London with Underbelly since 2011, going from strength to strength with seasons growing longer and a cult following that has grown with demand. London has a good grip on what we are putting on stage and London is definitely not short on punters who are keen to escape into the world of Briefs.
Tell us about the cast, where do they come from and how do they work together?
It’s easy to throw a bunch of artists together and hope for the best but to get a winning combination of unique and interesting artists to work collaboratively is another story. It’s so important to us to mess with archetypes and to celebrate individuality. The cast for Close Encounters is another shift in gears bringing an odd and interesting mix of disciplines encompassing contemporary dance, performance art, circus, drag, burlesque and theatre.
Does Briefs have something for everyone to enjoy?
In the current climate of tense politics, cultural conflict, inequality, turbulent social interactions and uncertainty, I think it is important for theatre and the arts in general to comment, reflect and inspire. Theatre is for everyone to experience and Briefs is no exception.
Briefs Close Encounters runs at Underbelly Festival Southbank from July 14th to September 30th 2017 Tickets – 03333 444167 http://underbellyfestival.com