Close Encounters: Up Close and Personal with Fez Fa’anana

The Briefs Factory is not your normal factory.

The self-proclaimed “manufacturers and distributors of evocative, irreverent, political punk performance,” their shows push the boundaries of performance by combining a plethora of theatrical styles, including drag, acrobatics, burlesque, and cabaret. Having travelled the world spreading love and glitter, the Briefs boys will be returning to Australia for a tour of their new shows.

Their third show, Close Encounters, premiered at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2017 before travelling to the UK’s Underbelly Festival, Auckland’s Q Theatre, Sydney Festival and Edinburgh Fringe. The show has recently finished a West End run, and is flying back down under to delight Melbourne audiences this March. A stunning mix of amazing aerial, bodacious burleqsue, clever comedy, and dazzling drag, the boys of Briefs are sure to delight and astound audiences.

Additionally, in a special one-off show, the Briefs Factory boys will present Brat Kids Carnival, a PG circus and cabaret extravaganza for children 7 and up.

Fez Fa’anana | Photo by Aitor Santome

The troupe is lead by Artistic Director Fez Fa’anana, and features a cast of buff and beautiful cabaret, burlesque and circus performers. I had a quick chat with Fez about their upcoming season at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Playhouse.

Where did your love of performance come from?

No one can be sure of where you get the obsession to perform. Is it the need to be creative? Or is it the vanity to be applauded? Or is it culturally embedded in your blood or is it an acquired addiction? I say all of these possibilities apply to me.

You’ve combined an assortment of styles for your show Close Encounters – how did you and your creative team mash them together cohesively?

The interrogation, combination and collaboration of Circus, Drag, Burlesque, Dance, Comedy, Performance Art and Physical Theatre is something that Briefs Factory has been built on. Applying a theatre process to these art forms is something that amplifies the uniqueness of the style.

Why do you think it’s important to have shows that push the boundaries?

It is important to have shows that push boundaries on all levels. It is important to have diverse casting, diverse stories, diverse content, diverse venues and with diverse audiences. Lets push boundaries until new boundaries are set and then lets push them. A creative warriors job is never done!

Photo by Kate Pardey

What can audiences expect from Close Encounters?

Expect the style of performance that Brief Factory are branded with; Circus, Drag, Burlesque, Comedy, Theatre and Dance. Expect a combustion of entertainment, showmanship and artistry. Expect a visit from a bunch of transcendent, glittery and idiotic beings harking from the future with a message of hope and celebration – ‘the human race does survive!’

I believe you’ve got a family-friendly show as well, Brat Kids Carnival – how will this differ from Close Encounters?

First of all – Brat Kids Carnival is appropriate for children. Close Encounters is NOT! We still aim to bring the party energy, the riskiness and the danger of the late night show and remix it into an age appropriate glittery explosion.

What’s one word of advice you’d give to upcoming cabaret/burlesque performers?

Elevate and celebrate the things that make you different. They are the things that set you part. Elevate and celebrate the things that make you human. They are the things that will make you relatable.

Close Encounters runs at Arts Centre Melbourne from March 20-24. Brat Kids Carnival will be performed for one show only on March 23 at 3pm.

For more information and tickets, please visit: Artscentremelbourne.com.au.

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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