If you don’t already know the force that is Travis Alabanza, where have you been? Travis is a non-binary performer, writer and theatre-maker who made big waves in 2018 for Gender non-conforming and trans community. Polyester speaks to Travis on their personal experience in 2018 and what’s hot or not in 2019.
It’s a new year, usually a time of reflection, so I wanted to ask how 2018 was for you? It seems it was clearly an extremely productive and successful year for yourself especially with the launch of Burgerz, an amazing theatre show birthed from an act of transphobia.
2018 was long… right? Anyone else just feel like it maybe lasted at least as long as 2002 + 2005 together. For me, anyway. You know, it’s easy with these questions and everyone’s online reflections to just look at our work/career when asking this question. It was great! I brought my work, particularly Burgerz, to stages that had never held or had bodies like mine, sold out a whole run and proved our narratives are not just needing to be heard, but we have the craft ( and demand) to do it. I felt like my craft focussed, but also my confidence in my voice, and it was at times hard to manage what felt like sometimes heightened press and intense transphobic scrutiny, but I’m proud of myself for surviving and thriving it. But real talk, my main 2018 achievements have nothing to do with my work. I’m proud of not canceling on my therapist, getting better at doing my makeup, and in the last sprint of 2018 getting a wig that honestly is already stunting on 2019.
What’s coming up for Travis is 2019?
Hopefully more wigs, and some cute dates. But also I’m excited as I’m starting the year acting in other people’s work! I’ll be in Dear Elizabeth at the Gate Theatre the end of this month, and I have some other roles that haven’t been announced yet so I can’t spill the tea. I’m excited to have an exhibition with Denny Kaulbach ‘All the Ways We Could Grow’ at the Free Word Centre opening at the end of February, and to get people to miss Burgerz enough so when it returns people come and say hi. I’m really trying to just focus on the work this year, on the craft, and to make art that excites me and audiences. I think so often marginalised artists are always seen as “activists” before artists. Our craft often not seen, especially if the work is focussing on identity. We become quickly pigeon-holed and put in boxes, so I think 2019 is about reminding myself (and others) about the work I make and figuring out some new places and things to explore. I feel excited! (but check in in February if I’m still feeling that)
Do you have any advice for the trans community and allies for 2019?
I think turn off the media more. Honestly, we don’t need to read every article. We don’t need to look at the horrible lies they are telling about us in the press. It’s hard, but cutting out that indulgence into the violence of it all helped me a lot. I think we need to just love on each other even harder, home in on our personal and interpersonal relationships with trans people, how are we supporting the trans folk in our life? In public? in our friendship groups? In our daily interactions? I think so often politics gets lost in big and grand structures, that we forget so much of our politic is shown in our interpersonal actions.
What’s hot in 2019?
Loud cackling in cinema’s. Triple-print clashing. Not moving out of the way for white people on sidewalks. Malik Nashad Sharpe’s art. And supporting and keeping alive consistently good meme accounts.
What’s not in 2019?
This cold country. Rewarding mediocre talent with high esteem just because we find the white-cis-guy hot. The central line.
Photography by Hani Hooper