//BUZZCUT// Double Thrills @ CCA, Glasgow

This double bill of Project X Dance's Ghost Dimensions and Travis Alabanza's Burgerz puts forward vital, interesting and necessary work

Review by Roisin O'Brien | 18 Nov 2019
  • //BUZZCUT// Double Thrills @ CCA, Glasgow

November's edition of //BUZZCUT// pulls no punches, with a double bill featuring Ghost Dimensions from Project X Dance (an organisation that champions dance within the African Diaspora in Scotland) and Burgerz from Travis Alabanza.

In Ghost Dimensions, neon colours pervade the space, and cityscapes are projected skittishly across a central dividing sheet and the walls in Tseliso Monaheng’s cinematography. There’s something of the surveillance state in these camera shots that look down on pavements, small human movements sometimes visible.

Performers Mele Broomes and Ashanti Harris position themselves on either side of the sheet. Sometimes they’re linked by stretchy cloth that covers their faces, at other points they enact a call-and-response not just across space but through time. They morph from statuesque poses and rippling movements, to clenched fists and jarring hikes of the legs. The soundscape by Healer Oran pulses constantly, whistles breaking up the air. 

Audiences are invited to walk around this landscape, to track the shifting relationships between the sometimes-hooded figures. It’s amazing the difference this active audience stance makes. Ghost Dimensions becomes a world to be curious about: what memories are unfolding in front of you? How do we connect within this brutalist world? 

The beginning point for Alabanza’s Burgerz is a real-life event: a burger was thrown at them, accompanied by a transphobic slur. Alabanza excavates the pervasive and institutional biases, threats, and violence that brought about that action, while also unflinchingly and openly exposing the personal effects such discrimination has had on them through their whole life. 

It’s heavy, brutal, important material, but Alabanza is also a gifted comic performer, throwing knowing quips around and responding to the audience’s laughs with flair. They’re intelligent, informative. Before colonialism, Alabanza tells us, non-binary identities were seen as a strength, worshipped as deities. If you tell people you are transgender today, Alabanza continues, people ask: what work are you going to get done? 

Alabanza asks for help: help to navigate this trauma, to stop it happening again; help, here and now, to make a burger. Specifically, can a straight, cis-gendered, white man come up on stage and help them? This constant involvement of the audience, physically and through interrogation of our complicity, forms the backbone of the show. Have you ever seen a violent attack on someone, and not done something? Have you caught that victim’s eye, and walked on? Can you vow to do better?

//BUZZCUT// returns on 11 Dec, CCA, Glasgow