Since 1985 satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys has performed in London (mainly at the Tricycle Theatre, sometimes at the old Donmar Warehouse and now at the Soho Theatre) around twenty times with his one-man shows; sometimes with his plays.
It’s a city that knows him well and he returns to London in June, this time without his usual armour of false eyelashes, extreme characters and their sketches which helped to deflect the poison arrows of government censorship and political correctness throughout the years of apartheid and even now in the present kleptocracy of the Rainbow Nation.
Now in his 72nd year, he no longer glances back at the successes and failures that have strengthened his belief in a constant improvement of his work, but at those small signposts that throughout his life subconsciously have pointed him in a right and original direction – growing up in a white South Africa with his Afrikaner father and his German-Jewish mother, confronting diverse influences on him from grandmothers, teachers and the politics of apartheid, and eventually fighting separate developments in life and sex, using humour as a weapon of mass distraction.
From Wed May 30th to Sat June 16th at 9.15pm he will present his one-man memoir The Echo Of Noise about making a noise when everyone demanded silence. On Sat 2nd, 9th and 16th June at 4 pm he’ll present a recent documentary film Nobody’s Died Laughing – A Journey with Pieter-Dirk Uys.
After each screening, there will be a Q&A with Uys. Directed by Willem Oelofsen, with Uys will be Charlize Theron, Sophia Loren, Janet Suzman, FW de Klerk, Desmond Tutu, Jonathan Shapiro / Zapiro and many more.
“Both the film Nobody’s Died Laughing and the stage performance The Echo of a Noise are personal journeys of forty years through the minefields of apartheid South Africa where one had to do the tango in front of a firing squad,” he told me.
“Performing anti-apartheid satire with dark humour in those days of the 1980s, was like doing Fiddler on the Roof in the Nuremberg of 1933! Today’s democratically-elected Pretoria government keeps proving that hypocrisy is the Vaseline of political intercourse.
“The government of the day has always proved to be the best scriptwriters I could wish for, from the apartheid regime of the bad old days to the ANC politburo of today. They put the words into my mouth. I couldn’t make it up if I tried. That’s why I don’t pay taxes; I pay royalties!” jokes the man who became the most famous white woman in South Africa, the inimitable Evita Bezuidenhout.