In the limelight: Zip Zap’s Jason Barnard makes his rap screen debut in MOYA

Who: Jason Barnard of Zip Zap Circus, Cape Town, South Africa   Speciality: Gravity juggling   Latest project: Rap screen debut in Zip Zap’s art film, MOYA – Saturday April 24-25 2021 via quicket

Jason Barnard of Zip Zap Circus is renowned for his precision skills at gravity juggling [also known as ‘contact juggling’] which draw gasps from audiences. In Zip Zap’s new film, MOYA, Jason makes his screen debut with an elegiac rap number which taps into a spectrum of emotions in the film: Despair and realism which transfigures on screen, to positivity and hope.

Jason reflects: “I was a bit nervous because writing lyrics is more of a hobby. It is very personal to me. It [MOYA] was the first time that I have been able to involve my lyrics with a Zip Zap performance. It is very exciting. I have been rapping for a while. I learnt in London when I studied there, that is why I have a bit of a British accent.  I did music as a GCSC [General Certificate of Secondary Education] subject at a school with performing arts [Debden Park House School]. I was influenced by ‘underground rap’. The specific genre that I like, is called Grime– fast paced- and quite hectic. There is no title to the rap song but I based it on three verses. It is about truth but not knowing where he [a man] is; messed up; being on the street. The second verse is that he is on a path. He doesn’t know what path but he knows that he is on a path. The last verse is about him seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone coming together.”

The rap song was written specifically for MOYA: “As to whether it will be performed live, on stage, we will have to see what happens in the future.” Circus was very much part of his family background. Jason started with Zip Zap when he was eight. The connection to Zip Zap came through his grandfather, a circus man. His grandfather met Zip Zap’s co-founder Brent van Rensburg at the Circus School YMCA, in Observatory in Cape Town. Brent went on establish Zip Zap in 1992, with his French born wife, Laurence Estève.

Jason’s career at Zip Zap was paused when he was at school in the UK. In 2013, he returned from England and took up where he left off, working with Zip Zap. Here he is, in lockdown, April 2021, making his film debut with this nuanced rap number which heightens the images in MOYA- a film which is about celebration of creativity and circus arts but which is very much grounded and cognisant of the context. Zip Zap is a circus school on the African continent, striving for balancing beauty and reality. After the struggles; physical and emotional, there is the circus: “The curtain’s rising and I’m smiling on stage… Confidence is peaking no more hiding away. My bad habits ended I’ve replaced it with friendship. No more depression. It’s a beautiful day” Ultimately, it is about the future of possibilities: “…The dark winter’s gone and it’s time for the spring season.”

Rap number by Jason Barnard – untitled- featured in MOYA – acrobatic art film by Zip Zap Circus-2021

Verse 1: 00:00-1min  

I’m used to cold nights and rainy days. Pavement to pavement, begging for some loose change. For a half a bread and find myself a warm place, Fall asleep and then dream that I can fly away.   I dream of new clothes, new friends and family I dream of galaxies to get away from reality I’m society’s reject, I’m pulled out like a cavity. They drive past in fast cars full of vanity. I’m invisible to most and those that notice me, don’t come close. I feel like Casper the ghost. Wishing I had friends of my own. The streets are cold, ice block your feelings, keeping strong but inside I’m screaming. Caught and thrown, standing alone. Trying to find my way back home It’s not easy.    

Verse 2: 8:56min-9:21min  

Hold on keep fighting through the elements. Keep going only focus on what’s relevant, I stay humble with the power of an elephant. Who knows, I just might become president. I’ve got feelings. I’m not just a skeleton. I’ve got a brain that I keep developing. I’m feeding my soul with that positive energy. I’m following the sound of that sweet sweet melody.  

Verse 3: 48:20min

It’s time for a change. The curtain’s rising and I’m smiling on stage. Confidence is peaking; no more hiding away. My bad habits ended. I’ve replaced it with friendship. No more depression, it’s a beautiful day. Ubuntu’s got me feeling safe and strong. Different colours but we’re all sisters and brothers. We represent the culture and I belong. We bleed the same colour so I look beyond .  We moving as one. Still far from done, I’m living life to the fullest because I’m out of the slum. I’ve been Zapped in a good way. I’m keeping that good faith. Embracing the new age, Imma shine like the sun.   Finally its freedom. No need to worry when’s the last time I’ve eaten. I’m forever grateful for the fresh air that I’m breathing .The dark winter’s gone and it’s time for the spring season.