(for more about Pieter-Dirk Uys, please visit www.pdu.co.za)
Pieter‑Dirk Uys was born in Cape Town in 1945 and has been in the theatre since the mid‑1960s. Closely associated with both the Space Theatre in Cape Town and Johannesburg’s Market Theatre during the 1970s and 1980s, he has written and performed 20 plays and over 30 revues and one‑man shows throughout South Africa and abroad.
Uys has been doing this sort of thing for so long that people now refer to it as a career. Officially unemployed since the early 1970s, he writes, directs, acts, produces and does everything else, including the making of dresses and the wearing of them! Having survived the mediocrity of apartheid kultuur, it is his therapy and his joy to expose the bones of that dinosaur for the entertainment of democratic audiences worldwide. He is delighted to still have a government that on a daily basis writes his best material!
Most of Uys’s satirical work was available in South Africa on video (and still is, on DVD) and so, in spite of government censorship during apartheid, he built up a very large multiracial audience. Members of the present democratic parliament remember seeing his videos while in exile and in prison!
Uys’s plays Paradise is Closing Down, Panorama, God’s Forgotten, Auditioning Angels, Faces in the Wall and Just Like Home have been performed internationally, and his one‑man shows Adapt or Dye, One Man One Volt, You ANC Nothing Yet, Truth Omissions, Live from Boerassic Park, Dekaffirnated, Foreign Aids, Evita for President, Elections & Erections, Desperate First Ladies and An Audience with Pieter-Dirk Uys have been presented in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Australia, the USA and Canada as well as all over South Africa. His performance of Foreign Aids at La Mama received the Obie Award in New York in 2004.
A prolific writer in many genres, his novel, Trekking to Teema, was South Africa’s first internet book in 2000, before being published in tree-format. He has also written Evita Bezuidenhout’s biography, A Part Hate A Part Love, as well as a book based on his12-part 1994 MNET television series, Funigalore, in which Evita Bezuidenhout, his most famous creation, interviewed the new democratic government’s leaders, including Nelson Mandela.
In 2003, Uys published his first volume of memoirs, Elections and Erections. A second volume of memoirs, Between the Devil and the Deep, became a bestseller throughout South Africa in 2005. Both of Uys’s memoirs are now available as eBooks, as is his ‘autobiography’ of Evita’s younger sister, Bambi Kellermann, Never too Naked; his long-out-of-print biography of Evita Bezuidenhout, A Part Hate A Part Love; and his most recent novel, Panorama. In 2010 Uys published a cookbook, Evita’s Kossie Sikelela, which was followed by a second cookbook, Evita’s Bossie Sikelela, in 2012.
Pieter‑Dirk Uys was awarded South Africa’s prestigious Truth and Reconciliation Award in 2001. He has received honorary degrees from Rhodes University, the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape, the University of the Witwatersrand and University of Kwazulu Natal. As well, his celebrated alter‑ego, Evita Bezuidenhout, proudly received the Living Legacy 2000 Award in San Diego, USA. In 2011 Uys was honoured with a lifetime achievement Teddy award at the Berlin International Film Festival; in 2012 he received both the FW de Klerk Goodwill Award and the German-Africa Award; and in 2016 he was the recipient of the ACT Lifetime Achievement Award for Theatre.
Since 2000 Pieter‑Dirk Uys has been travelling around South Africa, visiting over 1.5 million school children, as well as prisons and reformatories, with a free AIDS‑awareness entertainment called For Facts Sake!. He has also released a corporate AIDS‑information video, Having Sex with Pieter‑Dirk Uys, as well as the family‑friendly video, Survival Aids, and Just a Small Prick!, a treatment of the fears surrounding testing for HIV.
Uys has been the subject of two documentaries. The award-winning Darling! The Pieter-Dirk Uys Story, which focusses on Uys’s Aids-awareness presentations, was directed by New Zealander Julian Shaw and has been shown worldwide. This DVD, as well as a wide range of Pieter-Dirk Uys’s books, plays and other DVDs, is sold in Evita’s A and C at the Perron. Nobody’s Died Laughing: A Journey with Pieter-Dirk Uys, directed by South African Willem Oelofsen, was release in 2016
In 2015, Pieter-Dirk Uys turned 70. To celebrate, a new collection of his Afrikaans plays, Stukke Teater, was published by Human & Rousseau; his newest play, African Times, had its world premiere at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown; and Die van Aardes van Grootoor: The Musical – a reworking of Uys’s epic boeredrama, with music composed by Godfrey Johnson – received its world premiere at Theatre on the Bay in Cape Town. Chosen as the National Arts Festival’s first Arts Icon, Uys performed three special solo shows during the 2015 festival: A Part Hate A Part Love (featuring Evita Bezuidenhout); Never Too Naked (featuring Bambi Kellermann); and The Echo of a Noise. In honour of Evita Bezuidenhout’s 80th birthday, Kyknet presented a birthday special, Kyk Net vir Tannie, produced by Evita’s former secretary, Bokkie Bam (Lizz Meiring), with greetings from Evita’s far-flung family, and interviews hosted by Coenie de Villiers.
In 2016, Evita se Perron, Pieter-Dirk Uys’s cabaret theatre and restaurant in Darling, celebrates its 20th anniversary. The venue is famous for its satirical garden, Boerassic Park, and is the domain of Evita Bezuidenhout, the ‘most famous white woman in South Africa’. The unique museum/nauseum of apartheid artifacts there, reflecting the madness of the past, is arguably the only satirical exhibition of South Africa’s recent past. The Evita se Perron channel on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/EvitaSePerron) hosts Evita’s Free Speech, a weekly feature on the state of the nation and the world.