Travis Alabanza is a performance artist, writer and theatre-maker. Their unique mixture of performance, poetry, style, political views, and risk-taking performances has given them a unique position both nationally and internationally and they have been noted by numerous publications – Artsy, i-D and MOBO Awards as being one of the most prominent emerging queer artistic voices. And at 21 Travis became the youngest person to be awarded a residency at the Tate.
Travis is non-binary, which means that they do not identify as either male or female and use the pronouns ‘them’, ‘their’ and ‘they’. In 2016 Travis was walking through London in the afternoon when suddenly somebody called them a ‘Tranny’ and hurled a burger at them. No one intervened. Two years later, this incident has formed the basis for Travis’ sell-out show, Burgerz.
In Burgerz Travis carries out an exploration of the act of survival, the way that a body can dodge items, and the way that a person is received, examined and dissected in public. Burgerz asks urgent questions: What does the trans body do in order to survive? How can someone become a protector, rather than a bystander? Burgerz seeks to examine gender and the transphobia that Travis and many other non-binary people experience.
The charity Stonewall published a report earlier this year which found that a third of non-binary people had experienced a hate crime, in the last 12 months, because of their gender identity.
Burgerz is a one-person show, although it does rely quite heavily on audience participation. In a similar realm to performance artist Bobby Baker, Travis uses food prep and on-stage cooking in the performance, as a means to address violence and the process of recovery.
Burgerz gives audiences the chance to leave the space with a better understanding of what it is like to live a life where racism, homophobia and transphobia occur frequently. And the question of our complicity in a hate attack, if we just stand back and do nothing.