After acclaimed seasons in the UK and Europe, and a sold-out season at last year’s Sydney Festival, Briefs unveils its latest show, Close Encounters.
Developed in the underground club scene in Brisbane’s West End in 2008, the Briefs company is entering its tenth year as an official thing. Even now, after successful seasons in the Sydney Festival, the Sydney Opera House and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, it hasn’t lost touch with its roots, says Briefs emcee and founder Fez Faanana.
“It was always about giving local performers an opportunity to try out new work,” he explains. “One of the driving forces for starting Briefs was that there seemed to be a lot of amazing female companies in the world of circus and physical theatre who were rocking out and doing some amazing stuff. It became a joke that the boys were being left behind.”
Set to thumping club beats, the acts range from burlesque to vaudeville to circus. Faanana – in his drag guise Shivannah – serves as ringmaster and clown.
“I can be quite rude,” he laughs. “You would have to say that Briefs is for a ‘mature audience’ but over the course of performing the show for four years we’ve come to realise what a diverse group of people that is. We get a great response from younger punters but also the older ones, who have experienced the world of variety and vaudeville back in their day.”
There is also a serious side to Briefs in its playful exploration of sexuality, gender and race. “Transgender stuff is something I’m really interested in,” Faanana says. “The reason I do a drag act but I don’t shave and keep my beard is about trying to put a new spin on ideas of masculinity and gender, vanity and body image.”
Briefs: Close Encounters is a Sydney Festival event.