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What's queer, punk, gorgeous to look at, and self-made? Oz’s Fez Faanana of The Briefs Factory speaks to Run-Riot

(Image of Fez Faanana by Katy Pardey)

Briefs Factory is an Australian creative collective who manufacture, cultivate and present evocative, irreverent, physical performance.  Best known for their flagship project Briefs, the award winning company’s work also includes Hot Brown Honey, Club Briefs, Sweatshop, Brat Kids Carnival and Slumber Party. Briefs Factory also represents Yana Alana and Queen Kong. Inspired by circus, drag, dance, burlesque, music, comedy and the ever changing world around them, Briefs Factory are dedicated to developing and touring their brand of award winning, genre defying, political party punk around the world.

In 2008 a collective of Brisbane based male performers and creative artists pulled and slapped together a performance party event; a punkish dandy speakeasy club night that gave professional and idiotic artists the opportunity to test-drive and showcase diverse performance in a celebratory space and in front of a companionable audience. The evening was not over thought, nor was it heavily produced or over worked. It was a rough-n-tumble, honest-n-gullible space full of gumption, alcohol consumption and no assumption. Artists, audience and staff were all on a level playing field. It wasn’t trying to be anything but a safe, fun, sophisticated - in mindset not production values - and progressive night that would champion the freak and freakishly talented.

(Image of Briefs: Close Encounter by Kate Pardey)

(Image of Hot Brown Honey by Dylan Evans)

The night was extremely successful and Briefs was born (named after the fact we were often in our pants and the acts were a serious of shorts). Demand spawned a series of Briefs events that eventuated into an invitation to present the party at various festivals around Australia. Each time we presented the Briefs event, it seemed to refine in its shape and form. Eventually, this evolved into a variety show that gained traction and attention appearing in prestigious festivals and venues, as well as receiving awards excellence and independent producing.

In 2011 the company engaged with producer Linda Catalano and we forged our first international outing to Edinburgh Fringe. Our partnership with Linda and its Edinburgh debut put Briefs on the map as a fierce independent player on the international touring circuit. Briefs continued to evolve and develop into a series of award winning productions, which have carved out support from audiences around the world. The collective of artists and productions spawned then creation of Briefs Factory, our production house, which sees Linda Catalano as executive producer and myself, Fez Faanana, as Artistic Director as well as a stable of contributors, creative, administrators and artists.

We describe ourselves as an Australian creative collective who manufacture, cultivate and present evocative, irreverent, physical performance. Briefs Factory now humbly and proudly boast a family of artists, productions and technical crew across our work, including Briefs, Hot Brown Honey, Club Briefs, Sweatshop, Brat Kids Carnival and Slumber Party. Briefs Factory also represent Yana Alana with Between The Cracks and her new show Queen Kong.

(Image of Yana by Peter Leslie)

(Image of Hot Brown Honey by Dylan Evans)

There is no way that I expected Briefs to evolve into Briefs Factory and in turn into the beast that it has become. It is definitely a welcome surprise and remains primary for us to make sure we maintain the spirit and ethos of our foundations as we move into becoming a production house that propagates important, relevant and irreverent work on larger stages and bigger platforms.

Briefs: Close Encounters, the latest work in the Briefs cannon, continues and evolves the style and essence that our previous work has carved out. It is irreverent, celebratory and skilful in it’s reinvention or remix of the variety form. We pride ourselves in marrying the raucous, late-night, punk energy of a night club with the breadth of physical theatre, contemporary dance, comedy and the artistry of cabaret. Briefs: Close Encounters takes the audience into a bent fantasy off kilter futuristic realm where we welcome the audience onto our spacecraft and journey into the future demonstrating the extreme abilities of the body through performance and explore the limits of masculinity, taste and decency. We assure audiences that the future is stunning, smart and sophisticated and affirm that there is peace for everyone and a place for everyone, it’s just our job to get there.

(Image of Briefs by Kate Pardey)

(Image of Briefs by Kate Pardey)

As an independent production house that doesn’t receive public funding, we work in a very grass roots manner. We operate as a collective and work in a very unique mode that, following the traditions of circus, involving our cast and crew to be heavily involved in the entire process of putting on the show. For example Thomas Worrell is our super star aerial hoop artist, contortionist, acrobat, as well as head of merchandise and petty cash. Resourcefulness and the duck principle with how we make things happen. The duck principle: everything above water is statuesque and balanced while under the water you are paddling like an Olympian.

Those who are in our company have come from a diverse background of cultures, genders and archetypes. This is something that is not only curatorial but also instinctive. We find each other. The type of productions we present and cultivate have a definite quality that takes risks and pushes the social norm, therefore the artists we work with represent that themselves, both within their politics and also the work they make as creatives.

I don’t know where we will be in years to come, but I trust we will still be holding this torch and our seat at the table, and look forward to meeting and working with many more artists around the world, crafting productions that push people’s buttons and furthering the lineage of protest through entertainment and art.

(Image of Hot Brown Honey by Dylan Evans)

Briefs will perform Club Briefs at the Underbelly Festival Southbank, London on 25 and 28 July: http://www.underbellyfestival.com/whats-on/club-briefs1 AND Briefs will also be performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with Briefs: Close Encounters from 2-26 August: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/briefs-close-encounters

Hot Brown Honey will be at the Southbank Centre, London from 24 - 28 July: https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/123145-hot-brown-honey-2018
AND Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 1-27 August: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/hot-brown-honey

Yana Alana will make her debut at Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 2-26 August: https://www.assemblyfestival.com/whats-on/yana-alana-between-the-cracks AND then perform at Soho Theatre from 28 August - 8 September 2018: https://sohotheatre.com/shows/yana-alana-between-the-cracks/