Maverick Life


With Moya, the Zip Zap Circus puts on an unforgettable show

With Moya, the Zip Zap Circus puts on an unforgettable show
Zip Zap Circus performs 'Moya' at the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town. (Photo: Joan Ward)

Moya is a truly South African performance of exuberant joy showcasing the breathtaking talents of the Zip Zap Circus.

Moya, the latest show by the Zip Zap Circus, is dazzling audiences with a spectacular performance interwoven with a heartwarming story of how the organisation is transforming lives through artistry.  

Through a series of impressive acts and stunts, Moya shows how, over 31 years, young South African children have been welcomed into the fold and introduced to circus play.

Set to the foot-tapping beats of Josh Hawk, former bass player for Freshlyground, the cast jump, cartwheel and seemingly defy gravity to put on a show that has the audience on its feet by the end.

The show tells the true story of Jacobus Claassen, performing here under the name “Trompie”, who lived on the streets of Cape Town from the age of 10. Set against the backdrop of the Mother City, Moya describes the harsh realities of poverty lived by many young people in South Africa.

Moya is a reflection of how I started and how much I’ve pushed through to be able to be here today. The opening scene is literally how my day-to-day life used to look and how people used to treat me… Being able to communicate my story with words is sometimes difficult, so being able to do it through my art is special,” Claassen says

“And it’s not just my story – it’s each cast member’s story put into one show. There’s a power in all of us sharing in each other’s stories.”

Jason Barnard and Jacobus (Trompie) Claassen perform in 'Moya' by the Zip Zap Circus at the Artscape Theatre. (Photo: Joan Ward)

Jason Barnard and Jacobus (Trompie) Claassen perform in ‘Moya’ by the Zip Zap Circus at the Artscape Theatre. Image: Joan Ward

While living in a shelter, Claassen was introduced to the circus through Zip Zap’s 2nd Chance programme which partners with schools, NGOs, orphanages and children’s homes to expose children to hands-on circus workshops. In the programme, Claassen found his passion and progressed to becoming a full-time performer and clown, specialising in unicycle, juggling and acrobatics. 

As Moya progresses, Trompie and the audience meet other performers who share their talents and bring him into the fold. Claassen’s wit and humour shine in his portrayal of Trompie, as they engage with other cast members and learn their tricks. 

Moya is full of fun and laughter, yet the cast has serious talent that cannot be understated. 

Each member has a scene where they showcase their skills solo, whether it be swinging from ropes or catching juggling clubs from impossible heights. There is something for everyone in this circus show, with cool choreography and clever rap verses performed by a cast showing off incredible strength with a flair for the dramatic. 

Jason Barnard is a multi-talented force to be reckoned with, not only showing off his mesmerising bounce juggling skills but also demonstrating the fundamental trust these performers need to have in each other. As each performer flies through the sky, their teammates, like Barnard, are crucial to make sure they land safely when they come down. 

“For me, the spirit of Zip Zap is not about what you wear, where you come from or how much you’ve got. It’s about teamwork, hard work, determination and just looking out for each other,” Barnard says. 

Bridgette Berning performs an aerial act in 'Moya' by the Zip Zap Circus at the Artscape Theatre. Image: Joan Ward

Bridgette Berning performs an aerial act in Moya by the Zip Zap Circus. (Photo: Joan Ward)

Those flying include Bridgette Berning, whose acts in aerial silks and on the trapeze draw collective gasps as she glides through the air and then plummets back to earth. 

Berning echoes Barnard’s sentiments: “Trust really encapsulates all of Zip Zap’s values and it boils down to trusting that people are going to do the best with what you give them. 

“Being in Moya is that trust amplified … trusting that your team members are going to give their all on stage and their full energy in the show. You’ve got to trust your team members to catch you, support you and give you space to create in the creative process.”

Not only are the Zip Zap performers expertly skilled in their art, but they bring a unique energy that captivates the audience the moment they step on stage. They sing along to the catchy tunes and build a vibrant spirit within the room, feeding off each other and those who watch them. 

From the outset, it is clear that Moya is more than a mere show of talent; it is a joyous celebration of life, family and movement. Throughout, the audience is welcomed into this space to share in the challenges the performers face as well as the victories. 

“The love we have for each other isn’t just shared among the cast members, but the audience members also get to share in that love spirit of Zip Zap. 

“Zip Zap has a way of inspiring and empowering people,” Claassen says. 

“I am often close to tears in the opening and finale. The opening reflects how people used to treat me and the finale really speaks to the love and belonging I’ve found through the circus.” DM

Moya runs at The Teatro at Montecasino, Johannesburg from 31 August to 10 September 2023. 


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