In the limelight: Zip Zap’s Jacobus Claassen talks about how he became known as Trompie

Who: Jacobus Claassen (aka Trompie) of Zip Zap Circus, Cape Town, South Africa  
Circus skills: Unicycle, juggling, hand-to hand, Cyr wheel, acrobatic   Latest project: Performing in Zip Zap’s art film, MOYA – Saturday April 24-25 2021 via quicket

What is in a name? Our names often conjure up stories and for Zip Zap’s Jacobus Claassen, his nickname, Trompie speaks volumes about his history and his personality. Trompie – who is resident clown and juggler (and an accomplished acrobat) was the star of Zip Zap’s film, A Night at The Circus, a film, which was streamed on the Virtual National Festival platform.  The film provides a vivid impression of Trompie’s real life experiences. He comes from a broken home and regards Zip Zap as literally saving him, from a life on the streets. During the persistence of the pandemic, into 2021, Trompie continues to be a key member of Zip Zap and is one of the performers in its acrobatic film, MOYA, which is streaming this weekend, Saturday April 24-25 2021 via quicket. In MOYA, we see the intense concentration of Trompie, coupled with the sense of joy and playfulness that he brings to his craft.

With all the hardships, Trompie treasures memories from his family and his nickname, which his father endowed on him. “My nickname comes from a series, Trompie en die Boksombende [1980] on SABC2, with a ‘naughty’ character, Trompie.  I watched the soapie a lot. And then I started becoming naughty like that boy. My father saw my ‘naughtiness’ and he gave me that name – Trompie- because it was the same as the naughtiness as the boy called, Trompie. I even had my same crew as well – die Boksomende – as in the series. And that is how I got my name”.

Trompie has been a key member of Zip Zap for 12 years. He has mastered multiple circus disciplines and has toured around the world. He was the central character in a Canadian documentary, First Man. This accomplished artist joined the Zip Zap staff cohort in 2017 and currently lives in an apartment in Salt River, which he shares with performer Phelelani Ndakrokra. Before Salt River, Trompie lived at Our Beautiful Shell (OBS) – Zip Zap’s on-site residence.

Watch Trompie in MOYA and you will get a sense of this talented and dynamic artist. His is a story of resilience and transcendence of circumstances, through art. His mantra is that one must actively change one’s life and make choices. And yet, whilst cognisant of the ruptures in his life, because of a broken home and poverty and dealing with the inequities of Apartheid, his name bestowed by his father – is something he values – every day when people call him Trompie. Review of MOYA: