Pieter-Dirk Uys

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Pieter-Dirk Uys (1945-) is a South African actor, director, dramatist, impersonator, comedian, political satirist and author. His personal website describes him as "author, actor and activist". [1]

Biography

Youth

Uys was born in Cape Town on 28 September 1945, went to school and grew up there.

Training

He matriculated from Nassau High School in Mowbray, Cape Town after which he completed a BA degree at the University of Cape Town Drama Department. His university lecturers included Rosalie van der Gucht, Mavis Taylor and Robert Mohr. In the late 1960s and early 1970s he studied at the London Film School [2].

Career

Uys started working as a freelance playwright, actor and stage director in Cape Town in the 1970s. His early plays, like Popcorn (1973), Selle Ou Storie (1974), Pity About People (1974), God's Forgotten (1975) and Karnaval (1975) all premiered at the Space Theatre in Cape Town. Over the years he continued writing, directing and often acting in his own material all over South Africa and abroad. While at film school in London he played a role in drag for the first time, as a milkmaid in an advertising film he produced as a student project and he later became particularly well-known in South Africa for the character Evita Bezuidenhout (also known as Tannie Evita), a white Afrikaner socialite and political activist, which he created and plays himself on stage, television and film. He later settled in Darling, in the Western Cape, where he converted the old, disused, railway station into a cabaret venue called Evita se Perron (perron is Afrikaans for station platform) [3], where he stages productions and performs himself regularly.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

As a drama student

As a student at UCT Pieter-Dirk Uys (under the name Pieter Uys or Peter Uys) played a part in Little Malcolm and his Struggle against the Eunuchs by David Halliwell at the Little Theatre in 1967 with Peter Kruger and Wilson Dunster and directed by Mavis Taylor. While at the London Film School he wrote and produced Faces in the Wall.

Space Theatre in the 1970s

He returned to South Africa to join the Space Theatre as a very active actor, writer and stage director.

As playwright at The Space

While working fulltime at The Space he wrote Popcorn, Pity About People, Selle Ou Storie, Snow White and the Special Branch, God’s Forgotten, Just Hilda!, Karnaval and Kitsch, and did an adaptation of The Happy Prince.

As actor at The Space

As actor he appeared in People are Living There, Skyvers/Jollers, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, A Different Shade of Grey, Don't Walk About with Nothing On, I'll Ring for more Toast, Just Hilda!, Karnaval, The Maids, A Man Hanging, Muzeeka and Ooh! La-La.

As director at The Space

He also directed Pity About People, Popcorn, Selle Ou Storie, Snow White and the Special Branch, Superman, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, A Tribute to Noël Coward: Fumed Oak and Red Peppers, We Bombed in New Haven, Cop Out, Faces in the Wall, Fortune and Men's Eyes, God’s Forgotten, I'll Ring for more Toast, Just Hilda, Karnaval, Kitsch and Muzeeka.

As designer at The Space

As designer he worked on Pity About People, Selle Ou Storie, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, We Bombed in New Haven, Cop Out, Faces in the Wall, Fortune and Men's Eyes, God’s Forgotten, Karnaval, Kitsch, Muzeeka and Ooh! La-La.

As a Freelancer

After his spell with The Space he became a freelancer in the performing arts in South Africa and abroad. Initially a performer and playwright, he continued to make his name with bilingual realist comedies and tragedies with a strong political message, set in Cape Town. He gradually started focusing on stand-up satires. These include the immensely popular and long running satire Die Van Aardes van Grootoor (lit “The Van Aardes [i.e. ‘those of the earth’] of Big Ear”) at the Baxter Theatre and Market Theatre – where he opened the Laager in 1978, Adapt or Dye (1981), Hell is for Whites Only (1982), Die Vleiroos (the first Afrikaans play commissioned for the Grahamstown Festival’s main festival, 1992), No Space on Long Street (a celebration of the Space Theatre, performed in the Baxter in 1997.

Towards the end of the 1970s he began doing impersonations of South African politicians and creating a number of popular characters, the most notable being Evita Bezuidenhout, whose persona became so strong that she finally became Uys’s public alter ego. Evita has had a string of productions of her own, including a TV chat show for a while. (See also: Evita Bezuidenhout).

Over the years Pieter-Dirk Uys has performed a large number of one-man shows, including Farce About Uys, Hell is for Whites Only, Adapt or Dye, One Man, One Volt, Tannie Evita Praat Kaktus, An Audience With Pieter-Dirk Eish! and others.

In August 1978 he opened The Laager, a small theatre space in the Market Theatre, in the venue formally known as the Market Café. The opening production was his Die Van Aardes van Grootoor, directed by Dawie Malan and starring Uys, Magda Beukes, Johan Botha, Lida Botha, Antoinette Kellermann, Nomsa Nene and Rina Nienaber.

In 1995 he moved to the town of Darling [4], 75 km from Cape Town, where he bought the old station and built Evita se Perron (“Evita’s Station Platform”), a small theatre and restaurant complex where he performs regularly, often as Evita Bezuidenhout. Over the years Uys has toured extensively, nationally and internationally, to wide acclaim. He has also recorded and filmed a number of his shows, and has (as Evita) hosted his own TV show.

Another facet of his work is the enormous amount of charity and community work he has done to create understanding, tolerance and health awareness.

Plays and Monologues written by Uys

Faces in the Wall (London Film School, 1969; Space Theatre, 1973; Market Theatre 1980)

Popcorn (Space Theatre, 1973)

Pity About People (Space Theatre, 1974; The Company, 1974)

Selle Ou Storie (Space Theatre, 1974; The Company, 1975; Johannesburg Civic Theatre, 2004)

God's Forgotten (Space Theatre, 1975; Market Theatre 1976)

Karnaval (Space Theatre, 1975; Market Theatre 1981)

Skote! (Jan van Riebeeck High School, Cape Town, 1976)

The Rise and Fall of the First Empress Bonaparte (UCT students, 1977; PACT, 1983)

Paradise is Closing Down (Grahamstown Festival, 1977; Market Theatre 1977)

Die Van Aardes van Grootoor (Baxter Theatre 1977; Market Theatre 1978)

Hell is for Whites Only (aka ’’Beyond All Reason’’) (Market Theatre 1982)

Appassionata (Pretoria, 1982; Baxter Theatre 1982; Market Theatre 1982)

Farce About Uys (Baxter Theatre 1983; Market Theatre 1983)

Panorama (Grahamstown Festival, 1987; Pretoria 1988; Johannesburg 1988; Cape Town, 1988)

Just Like Home (Baxter Theatre 1989; Market Theatre 1989)

Scorched Earth (Market Theatre 1989)

Die Vleiroos (Nico Malan Theatre 1992; Johannesburg Civic Theatre, 1995)

Paradise is Closing Down (Revisited) (aka "Going to Heaven") (Grahamstown Festival, 1992; Johannesburg, 1992)

Tannie Evita Praat Kaktus (A monologue, Evita se Perron, 1996)

Ouma Ossewania Praat Vuil (A monologue, Evita se Perron, 1997; KKNK 1997)

No Space on Long Street (Baxter Theatre, 1997)

Going Down Gorgeous (Evita se Perron, 1998; on tour, 1998)

Noël & Marlene (Evita se Perron, 1998; on tour, 1998)

Tannie Evita’s Crystal Balls (A monologue, Evita se Perron, 1998)

The Marshrose (1999)

Tannie Evita’s Cooksisters (A monologue, Evita se Perron, 2000)

Auditioning Angels (Grahamstown Festival, 2003; Pieter Toerien's Studio at Montecasino, 2003; Theatre on the Bay, 2003)

Same Old Story - English translation of Selle Ou Storie (Johannesburg Civic Theatre, 2004)

MacBeki (Little Theatre, Cape Town, 2009; Market Theatre, 2009)

Revues and Cabaret Shows written by Uys

Just Hilda! (Space Theatre, 1974)

Snow White and the Special Branch (Space Theatre, 1974; Labia Theatre, 1976)

Strike Up The Banned (Space Theatre, 1975; Grahamstown Festival, 1976; Market Theatre 1978)

Info Scandals (Pretoria, 1979; Baxter Theatre 1979; Market Theatre 1979)

Uyscreams from the Wimpy Archipelago (Market Theatre 1980)

Uyscreams with Hot Chocolate Sauce (Market Theatre 1980; Baxter Theatre 1980)

Adapt or Dye (premiere production 1981)

Total Onslaught (Pretoria, 1984; Baxter Theatre 1984; Market Theatre 1984)

Beyond the Rubicon (Market Theatre 1986; Nico Malan Theatre, 1986)

Rearranging the Deckchairs on the SA Bothatanic (Market Theatre 1987; Baxter Theatre 1987)

Cry Freemandela – The Movie (Market Theatre 1987; Nico Malan Theatre 1988)

A Kiss on Your Koeksister (Market Theatre 1990; Baxter Theatre 1990)

An Audience with Evita Bezuidenhout (Market Theatre 1990; Baxter Theatre 1990)

An Evening with Pieter-Dirk Uys (Baxter Theatre 1992)

The Poggenpoel Sisters (Cape Town, 1993; Johannesburg, 1993; on tour, 1993)

An Audience with an African Queen (1993)

One Man One Volt (Tour of South Africa, 1994)

Bambi Sings the FAK Songs (A "Cabaret") (Cape Town, 1995; Johannesburg, 1995; on tour, 1995)

You ANC Nothing Yet (Baxter Theatre 1995; on tour, 1995)

Truth Omissions (Baxter Theatre 1996; on tour, 1996)

Live from Boerassic Park (Baxter Theatre 1997; on tour, 1997)

Bambi’s Xmas Kêrels (Evita se Perron, 1998)

Dekaffirnated (Market Theatre 1999; Baxter Theatre 1999; on tour, 1999)

Concentration Camp - a cabaret (Evita se Perron, 2000; Grahamstown Festival, 2000)

For Facts Sake (Evita se Perron, 2000; on tour, 2000)

Symbols of Sex and State (2000)

Foreign Aids (Evita se Perron, 2001; on tour, 2002)

The End is Naai (Evita se Perron, 2004; on tour, 2004) (Known as Elections and Erections for the tour of the UK and Australia)

Icons and Aikonas (Evita se Perron, 2005)

Pieter-Dirk Eish! (Market Theatre, 2006)

Hello Darling (Evita se Perron, 2005)

Evita for President (Spier Amphitheatre, 2007; Market Theatre, 2007; Baxter Theatre, 2007; Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, 2007)

Fe-Fa-Fo-Fum (Evita se Perron, 2010)

Desperate First Ladies (Evita se Perron, 2010)

FAK Songs and Other Struggle Anthems - a cabaret (Cape Town, 2000)

Die Poggenpoels Praat (South African tour, 2011)

Filmography

As screenwriter

1978: Die Spaanse Vlieg (feature film)

1981: Screenplay (TV series)

1983: Farce About Uys (TV)

1991: Screenplay (TV series)

As actor

1974: Tant Ralie se Losieshuis (feature film) as the estate agent

1977: Kootjie Emmer (feature film) as P.P. Levine

1983: Farce About Uys (TV) as De Kock Bezuidenhout

1985: Skating on Thin Uys (feature film) as Evita Bezuidenhout and all the members of her family

1991: Screenplay (TV series) as Evita Bezuidenhout

As himself

1985: Skating on Thin Uys

1987: Across the Rubicon

2004: The Sunday Programme

Books and Autobiographies

Saga of Die Selle Ou Storie (1978) Speak, 1(2):53-57.March-April.

Farce about Uys : A Legal Assembly in Two Riotous Acts (1983) Jonathan Ball and Ad. Donker Publishers

Selle ou storie: A play (1983) Ad. Donker, Johannesburg

No-one’s Died Laughing (1986) Harmondsworth: Penguin

Paradise Is Closing Down and Other Plays (1989) Penguin Books Ltd

Funigalore: Evita's Real-Life Adventures in Wonderland (1995) The Penguin Group (SA) Pty Ltd

The Essential Evita Bezuidenhout (1997) David Philip Publishers, Cape Town

A Part Hate a Part Love: The Legend of Evita Bezuidenhout (1994) Hond, Groenkloof

No space on Long Street ; Marshrose : two plays (2000) ComPress, Cape Town

Trekking to Teema (2001) Compress, Cape Town

Elections & Erections: A Memoir of Fear and Fun (2003) Zebra Press, Cape Town

Between the Devil and the Deep: A Memoir of Acting and Reacting (2005) Cape Town: Zebra.

Awards and honours

1997: Doctor honoris causa from Rhodes University

2000: Mrs Evita Bezuidenhout was awarded the Living Legacy 2000 Award in San Diego

2001: Reconciliation Award [5]

2003: Doctor honoris causa from the University of Cape Town

2003: Doctor honoris causa from the University of the Western Cape

2011: TMSA Naledi Theatre Award - Lifetime Achiever Award for Evita Bezuidenhout

2011: Special Teddy Award at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale)

The lifetime achievement award from the Cape Tercentenary Foundation [6]

2018: He was awarded the Hertzogprys for Drama for Stukke Teater, taking into account his complete oeuvre.

Sources

Pieter-Dirk Uys's homepage [7]

Evita se Perron website [8]

Wikipedia [9]

Afrikaans Wikipedia [10]

Tucker, 1997.

LitNet [11] (re Hertzogprys 2018).

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