By Travis Alabanza
Home, Manchester – 17th Nov 2018
After someone threw a burger at them and shouted a transphobic slur, performance artist Travis Alabanza became obsessed with burgers.
Burgerz is the reclamation of that moment, in which Alabanza takes the burger and makes it their own – taking the burger apart and considering how it looks and feels, our perception of the burger and expectation. The play uses the burger as a jumping point to discuss trans-bodies, violence, and how one can become a protector rather than a bystander.
The performance revolves around a kitchen island, and a member of the audience is asked to help Travis make a burger while they talk together. It mixes hard-hitting subject matter with light-hearted moments, and the audience participation brings a sense of conversation to the piece.
Burgerz is emotional and it’s powerful. The intimacy of watching Alabanza and the audience member converse about their understanding of trans bodies, of gender – of what it is to feel safe, or how we understand violence is like sitting at a table with Alabanza and hearing the truth. And the truth is that it’s hard. That the way trans and non-binary people are treated is deplorable and violent.
Travis shares openly and honestly, and that’s what makes their performance so incredible. Their knowledge of social constructions and how colonisation has lead us to where we are today. Their vulnerability and bravery telling stories of violence they have experienced.
It feels as though vulnerability is at the centre of this performance, and the act of cooking – something that we associate with intimacy and sharing – makes it more so. It’s hard-hitting and at the end I felt emotional. I felt like I could do better and use my privilege and voice better.
If you get the chance to catch Burgerz then please do – I’ll certainly be thinking about it for quite a while. Even in writing this, I feel as though it will be a while before I can articulate how Burgerz made me feel, and how important and relevant it is.
This performance has now closed, but visit Travis’ website for details of future performances.
© M. Holland 2018