Fez Fa’anana AKA Shivannah - from 'Briefs'

By Leah Victoria

Get ready for a cabaret show with the ultimate twist - Briefs!

An all male, extravagant carnival of flamboyant “Boylesque”combined with gravity defying aerial acrobatics, trapeze, juggling, glitter, feathers and comedy.

After a preview of their opening act I caught up with Creative Director/MC Fez Fa’anana AKA Shivannah for a chat about the show!

Hi Fez! Thanks so much for joining us! You’re looking fabulous! 

(Laughs) Thanks for lying!! I landed in Auckland at 6am this morning, threw my face into some makeup and straight into back to back interviews all day!

We’ve been told that Briefs is a bit of a love child of Cirque du Soleil and Ru Paul’s Drag Race! Can you describe the show in your own words?

I think in it’s simplest form it is drag, circus, burlesque and comedy. I think in our neck of the woods, Australia/New Zealand there’s this certain sense of humour, sense of irreverence and we like to take a dig at ourselves! Essentially we wanted to make the show as a bit of escapism, like a theatre drug so people can come to the show and feel like they’ve kind of stepped into another world. So from the moment you walk in it’s like a holistic experience! You come and meet the boys as you enter and have a drink and we mingle and chat before we start the show so it’s very interactive and we are always trying to break down the walls and let audiences experience something different.

Take me right back to the start, where did this all begin?

We started in 2008, we were a group of friends and artists who came together and at that time were all working in more serious theatre, circus and contemporary dance. And we just started having these parties and club nights and putting together a bit of a Speakeasy. So it was all very illegal! We charged people like 5 bucks to come in, we had no licence for the bar! Cheap punch, cheap beer, cheep vodka and wine! We had this stage set up where we as professional artists could test drive some new work and new ideas! So there was nothing to loose. As an audience member you could see some of Australia’s finest circus performers completely flop and fall on their face, or see the very beginning of an act that is now part of a big Vegas show or doing a tour. So it was an opportunity for audiences to get an inside to how things are made. It was very reminiscent of trying to create this underground world where artists could have the freedom to play and throw things against the wall and see what happens!

You’ve got a bit of a combined role in Briefs, you perform and you also direct?

(Laughing) Yeah! So I’m the control freak of the company! I don’t let anyone else do anything!

So you don’t get much help then?! Does it all come from your own head?

Nah, really we work in a very collaborative way! I’m the creative director of the company and with this actual production Director and Choreographer. But again, this show is not in the classical theatre sense. It uses theatre process but it’s not essentially me writing a show and then teaching the others. All the other artists bring either a skill or an act or a style to the table to make the show happen!

There isn’t really anything else out there quiet like Briefs at the moment. Do you get nervous bringing the audience something they have never seen before?

I always get nervous bringing the show to a new country! I always wonder how quickly I’m gonna get deported! I kind of feel safe in New Zealand because we understand the terrain a little bit. We did Hong Kong for the first time this year and we had no idea how it was gonna go down!

And how did it go down?!

It went down amazingly! And it already looks like we’re going back there again before the end of the year! I think the one thing people like about the show is that it is an amazing release of creativity and letting things go. You can come here from your crazy 9-5 or whatever world everyone needs to escape from! Have a drink, put a grin on your face and have a laugh with us!

Briefs is such a flamboyant production, what goes into the day to day maintenance of the tour.

As circus performers there’s that element of day to day training. I think most of the flamboyance has come from the development of that. We spend a lot of time together on the road and are constantly coming up with new ideas and new costumes. Adding feathers, taking feathers off, glue gunning rhinestones on things! We just keep adding, more is less, and less is more, are those the rules? Whatever!

It was lovely to meet you Fez, thanks so much, and good luck with the shows! 

It was lovely to meet you to! Thank you so much!

BRIEFS plays

Wednesday 17 – Saturday 20 February

ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, 50 Mayoral Drive, Auckland

Tickets: A Reserve $59*/ B Reserve $55* / Tables of 6 - 8 $55* per person
Pre-Christmas Stocking Stuffer Special: Tables of 6 - 8 $49* per person

Pre-sale: 3pm Tuesday 8 December

General Public On-Sale: 9am Thursday 10 December

Bookings and information: www.aucklandlive.co.nz