This month sees the return of master satirist, Pieter-Dirk Uys, to the Hexagon Theatre in Golf Road, Pietermaritzburg, with two of his shows – The Echo of a Noise on Tuesday, February 21, Wednesday, February 22, Friday, February 24 and Saturday, February 25, and An Evening with Evita Bezuidenhout on Thursday, February 23 and Saturday, February 25. Uys spoke to http://www.theluvvie.com ahead of the shows.
In your own words, and for the record, what are some of the topics audiences can look forward to in The Echo of a Noise?
It’s the story of a life well-lived – a boy from Pinelands who grew up in a fractured society blessed with parents who brought music and love into the family. A boy who was stricken by the disease to please from an early age, overshadowed by church and school and a very strict father, and yet finding inspiration and excitement through his fantasies and imagination. The topics in the story will be shared by most of the audience: father, mother, sister, cat, swopping comics, seeing movies, Mozart, Elvis, something called sex, something named death, something remembered as love, laughter and maybe a tear – but throughout all the familiar noises of life that eventually create a symphony of celebration.
How is The Echo of a Noise different from your previous one-man shows?
I have never had the courage to get out from behind the masks and facades of the many characters I have performed on stage for over 7000 times. They were mainly there to focus on political madness and mirth. This is the first time I tell the story behind the stories. Maybe turning 70 has given me the thumbs-up to share the secrets and let the cat out of the bag.
South Africa was a very conservative place when you started your career as a performer. What made you decide to bring Tannie Evita to life and to keep doing so despite the reaction from the censor board?
I think the restrictions I was faced with helped me create possibilities of confronting them through unexplored avenues – in my case, using humour as a weapon of mass distraction. To laugh at fear could help make that fear less fearful, and let’s face it, our lives in South Africa during the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 1980s were shaped by fears. Laughter was a relief. It still is. And Evita was just one of those characters who eventually stepped out of the satirical cluster and became the most famous white woman in South Africa – then and now.
Have audiences’ reactions to your work changed over the years and if so, how and why do you think that is?
I expect my audience to change reactions from performance to performance, because the material is based on the news of the day and often the prejudices we all have to face when confronted with so many choices, especially in this democracy that constantly demands change of mind and opinion. Theatre is live; news is live – and yet entertainment demands more than just headlines. My characters have to be familiar and representative of the many areas of conflict. I try and keep to the balance of 49% anger versus 51% entertainment. Then and now.
What is it about theatre that keeps bringing you back to the stage?
I’ve been doing what I do since 1968 – it is a full-time commitment and because it is always reinventing itself, theatre keeps me on my toes and living in the moment. The great library of stories that have been shared from the stage has done so much to allow us in the audience to confront the drama of life, of relationships, of pain, of turmoil and strife. And of course, the release of tensions through laughter, either via comedy or humour. Politics has today become pure theatre, but I would rather stick to the stage that be brained in Parliament by a flying red hardhat!
NEED TO KNOW
Tuesday, 21 February at 7.30pm – The Echo of a Noise
Wednesday, 22 February at 7.30pm – The Echo of a Noise
Thursday, 23 February at 7.30pm – An Evening with Evita Bezuidenhout
Friday, 24 February at 7.30pm – The Echo of a Noise
Saturday, 25 February at 3pm – An Afternoon with Evita Bezuidenhout
Saturday, 25 February at 7.30pm – The Echo of a Noise
Tickets R150 (R120 for seniors/students). Book at webtickets.co.za
- Follow the latest episode of Evita’s Free Speech on YouTube every Sunday at www.pdu.co.za