INTERVIEW: John-Paul Zaccarini’s fight against homophobia and racism
John-Paul Zaccarini is a dragademic, a professor of circus and a hip-hop drama queen. Zaccarini is drawing from his own experiences in the intersection of different identities and is trying to make the circus field more inclusive. We interviewed Zaccarini about The MicRace MixTape, queering the circus and psychoanalysis.
I realised that my memories of experiencing homophobia, racism and elitism were a treasure trove!
How did MixRace MixTape came into being? What’s the history behind the piece?
I wrote my first rap WhiteBoy Bubblegum in a Rap Workshop for my Masters Students. I realised how complex my relationship was with class, race and sexuality, and that I had never really explored those things together in my work. I realised that my memories of experiencing homophobia, racism and elitism were a treasure trove! Within a month I had written the whole show.
What kind of stories would you like to tell?
I want to tell stories about how, especially in Stockholm, the new racism is a kind of polite racism. How homophobia and misogyny are still very present, but so subtle as to be almost undetectable. I want to inspire people to call it out and have those difficult conversations with people who actually don’t realise they are being, for example, racist.
How do you feel about different intersections between, for example, gender, sexuality and race in the circus field? I have this feeling that even though there is so much potential in contemporary circus, the scene is still quite conservative, when it comes to different representations and bodies for example.
The Nordic Circus Scene is overwhelmingly white and I feel I have to continue to be active in giving access to education to those who may not feel invited.
Conservative is a good word for it. Another is homogenous. Women are gaining better representation in the field, which has been male dominated for such a long time – especially when it comes to directors, principals of schools, festival promoters etc….More all-female shows is something to celebrate. The Nordic Circus Scene is overwhelmingly white and I feel I have to continue to be active in giving access to education to those who may not feel invited.
You have done your doctoral thesis about psychoanalysis and circus. How is unconscious present when it comes to circus?
I think the unconscious is produced the moment the artist asks us to interprete what they are doing onstage. If the artist hope for us to feel something, then the unconscious is being produced, right there and then. What that contains is different for every single person in the theatre.
I think queering is about neither going directly against or going directly with a norm, but unsettling or disrupting it within its own rules and systems.
Would it be possible to queer contemporary circus?
I am hopeful. I think queering is about shifting norms, and not settling into new norms. I think queering is about neither going directly against or going directly with a norm, but unsettling or disrupting it within its own rules and systems.
The MixRace MixTape at Cirko 5.–8.2.2020.