Briefs: Close Encounters at Arts Centre Melbourne
Fresh from London’s West End, the boys are back in town with a dazzling new show, featuring their trademark heart-stopping blend of insanely talented cabaret burlesque, comic capery and circus to die for - all with punkish swagger.
The third show from Briefs Factory, Close Encounters premiered at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2017, had its UK debut at London’s Underbelly Festival on The Southbank, enjoyed a successful run at Auckland’s Q Theatre, and in 2018 crash-landed at Sydney Festival with Adelaide Cabaret Festival and Edinburgh Fringe 2018 also on the flight path. The Melbourne run follows their London West End season.
Rosie spoke with Artistic Director/Performer Fez Faanana about where Briefs came from, and where it's going. Read the full interview below:
What inspired you to create Briefs Factory, and how have you seen it develop over the past 10 years?
Briefs Factory started in Brisbane in 2008 as a performative club night, a combination or a speak easy, a warehouse party, a cabaret variety show and blue light disco. The response from punters and peers was electric so we continued to run these club nights and built a cult following, as well as a solid repertoire of regular performers from drag, circus, burlesque, performance art, theatre, film and dance disciplines. We have paced ourselves and tried to be as smart as possible in our development and growth from a humble, dysfunctional and punk party show to a creative production house. It is really important for us to maintain the grass roots spirit of our collective while creating work and while operating as a company. This is sometimes not the easiest thing to do when you are an independent collective that unexpectedly expanded at a rapid rate. Last year marked our 10th birthday and it also marked our first season in London’s West End – quite the journey from our beginnings in Brisbane’s West End! We kicked this year off with our first season off Broadway in New York City. The tour we are currently on started October last year in Melbourne and we will now finish the tour back in Melbourne just before April.
This is the third show from the Briefs Factory, and has been touring the festival circuit since 2017. How does this show differ from the previous Briefs works, and why do you think it has garnered worldwide attention?
Yes this is the third show from the Briefs boys! As an independent collective we have to be smart about how we make, and very clear about why we make our productions. The first show BRIEFS set the style and identity; a unique all-male mongrel breed of circus, burlesque, drag and cabaret theatre, made up predominantly of existing acts from a considered and highly skilled ensemble of freelance artists. We toured BRIEFS thoroughly until there was a demand for a second album. BRIEFS: THE SECOND COMING was the next instalment, which allowed the ensemble to collaborate and develop a new work that continued in the realm of the original production while taking a few more risks and being a little more adventurous. BRIEFS: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS is different again with a surreal nod to the future, a message of hope and a good dose of theatrical spectacle.
Circus and cabaret feel like such different styles of performance, but in Briefs they’ve intertwined so smoothly. What made you want to combine so many different performance styles into the one show? Did you know it would work from the beginning, or was it a bit of a trial and error process?
Circus and cabaret are of course very different but it is not uncommon for the forms to compliment each other as does drag, performance art, dance and burlesque. These are all art forms that sit on the edge and can have a sense of freedom, danger and a potential to challenge the norm and provide a heightened world of escapism.
What do you hope to achieve with Briefs: Close Encounters, and why should audiences see this show?
At the heart of Briefs productions is a sense of celebration and freedom. We wanted to make a show that created an augmented and warped world that allowed people to explore and escape in to. It’s a safe, sparkly, spectacular and soulful experience.
How would you describe this show in only three words?
Irreverent, celebratory and sparkly.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Dream role to perform?
Ursula – Little Mermaid
Plays or musicals?
What’s next for you after this show?
BRIEFS: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS opens at the Arts Centre Melbourne on March 20 2019 for a strictly limited season. You can get your tickets here.