“This is the show I’m the most emotional, nervous and scared about,” Travis Alabanza admitted before bringing their award-winning show, Burgerz, to the city. “Bristol was so formative in the good and bad parts of my early years.”
Travis had nothing to be nervous about. In fact, Bristol should have been nervous to welcome such a powerful performer into its city walls.
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The Weston Studio at Bristol Old Vic was full on Burgerz’s opening night – with everyone from sixth form students, Travis’ mum and Cath Greig MBE, a mentor to a younger Travis when they performed with the Travelling Light Theatre Company.
Just after 8pm, a shadowed figure emerged onto the stage. Travis pulled open the set, and what ensued was an hour of some of the most heartfelt, important and moving pieces of theatre being performed in the UK currently.
Burgerz is “a cookery show at its heart”, but is much more than that in practise. It’s the tale of an assault, the experience of living in a trans body and of surviving in a society that doesn’t want gender non-conforming people to exist.
But what’s even more impressive, is Travis’ ability to make this hard-hitting, emotional subject accessible to everyone in the audience. They’re funny and crack joke after joke, all while reminding the white people and cisgender people (people that don’t identify as transgender) to check how privileged they are.
Travis reminds the audience, in between biting humour and beautiful monologues, that living as a trans person, and especially as a trans person of colour, is an ongoing fight. It’s a battle to survive and each day is a struggle to carry on.
The show might have originated from a single incident – a burger thrown at Travis on Waterloo Bridge in 2016 – but the impact of Burgerz was felt on every single member of the audience, and is sure to be felt by every person that gets the privilege to watch the show.
Main photo by Dorathea Tuch
Read more: Preview: Burgerz, Weston Studio