The Catharsis of Burgerz: Travis Alabanza’s Creating A Queer Archive of Public Harassment

Written in 2016, ’Burgerz’ is a one person show from the incendiary black, trans and gender non conforming multidisciplinary performer and artist, Travis Alabanza, documenting the street harassment they faced as a trans and gender non conforming black person moving through the world in that year. Following on from a much lauded scratch viewing debut earlier this year, Travis is revamping the show ready for a full theatre run in 2018, supported by Hackney Showroom, Oval Space and Marlborough. But rather than limit the narrative of the show to their own individual experiences, they’re reaching out to the community, and in the process, aiming to start a conversation that represents the multiplicity of voices queer and trans voices that faced harassment simply for existing in their bodies and daring to take up public space. “[I realized that in the UK] we have no actual archive for the public harassment of gender non conforming trans people”, Travis explained.

“[Transphobia reported to the police] is often being miscategorised as homophobic attacks, when they are actually attacks on gender non-conforming trans people.”

Travis Alabanza | by Ella Barraclough (2017)

To facilitate this discourse and conversation around this street harassment, Travis is hosting free (vegan) ’Burgerz’ (and chips) dinners (you just have to book your space), where queer and trans people can share their feelings and experiences, and begin the vital work of not only processing these public violations of bodily integrity, but of archiving and recording these histories. The actual recorded stories won’t be used publicly, but rather to create real statistics out of our own already irrevocable anecdotal truths, and offer some much needed dinner time catharsis. For Travis, the centering of burgers is not accidental. ‘Burgers were thrown at me in broad daylight’ they recount, and [a lot of the imagery in the show is centred around that].

“[This is a chance] for trans people, genderqueer, genderfuckers — anyone who experiences public harassment based off of there their queerness or transness to sit down and have a chat really about what we are all going through, talk about survival strategies, and share experiences.”

Travis Alabanza | by Ella Barraclough (2017)

By laying bare and weaving together these experiences into a varied discourse, Travis is aiming to to propel forward a dialogue that speaks to the experiences of the wider community “[These dinners] are so that when I go into the rehearsal room i’m not just going in with my existence, I’m going in understanding how other people are existing too.’

The first ‘Burgerz’ dinner is being held this Thursday the 21st of September at 8pm in Brighton. Find out more and book your free ticket here. You can check out the rest of Travis’ amazing work here.