PIETER-DIRK UYS turns 70 in September (on the 28th, to be precise), and the celebrated performer, satirist and author is celebrating the best way he knows how to – by entertaining and challenging audiences. Naturally, his irreverent creations from more than three decades of theatrical mirth, mayhem, moegoes and make-up, are along for the ride, many of which can be seen in Uys’s smash hit show ‘An Audience with Pieter-Dirk Eish!’, returning by massive public demand to invade the main stage of Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre in Fourways from Tuesday, September 8, to Sunday, October 4.
Uys will morph from a Botha into a Bezuidenhout, from a Zuma via a Zille into a Merkel. From the beloved Tannie Evita to her debauched sister Bambi, from Nowell Fine to Mama Winnie and Grace Mugabe, from the Arch to Mother Theresa – they’re all there, waiting to be unpacked, unpicked and paraded on the red carpet.
PETER TROMP touched base with legendary icon.
Tell us about ‘An Audience With Pieter-Dirk EISH’. What can audiences look forward to with the show?
The show is a tribute to audiences who make it possible to get onto a stage and entertain them. The focus is on LIVE – and so it reflects the emotion, the mood, the politics, the hopes and the hiccups of the moment. The show is also a unique structure: there are (close to 20) boxes on stage, each numbered, each with a sketch, a character and a story – and the audience chooses what number they want. So I am at the mercy of a democratic process, which means that the show is different every night as we cannot cover more than seven out of almost 20 boxes per performance. The audience can look forward to a live performance of sketches old, new, borrowed and blue – and laugh at the very things they didn’t even want to think about.
Congratulations on turning 70 this year. How do you feel about this milestone?
It is just that: a milestone, not a millstone. I really couldn’t give a damn, but 70 is a good hook to hang a product on.
Somewhere in the press release it is mentioned that the show is a “celebration of South African humour”. Do you personally believe in such a thing as a national sense of humour and if so, what do you think ours reveals about ourselves?
There has always been a South African sense of humour. And let us thank the lucky stars for it. To have survived all those years of bad politics and still be embraced by the majority of our people who have no reasons to be nice, shows their sense of humour, dignity and compassion. There’s nothing as delightful as a poep-grap in Afrikaans. There is also nothing as refreshing as a good laugh at the expense of arrogant, lazy, corrupt politicians – so my show is one big laugh after the next.
Which of the characters you have created over the years would you say you relate to the most?
Like all loving parents I relate to each one with respect and commitment. They have to be real, otherwise why would an audience bother to leave ‘Game of Thrones’ for me? Evita is of course my head girl and PW the retired chief whip – but Mrs Petersen from Manenburg is a favourite, Bambi Kellermann waves her condoms and I have a cluster of new characters in ‘EISH’ that I think will be embraced and enjoyed.
Random question: what is your favourite caffeinated beverage?
Glad you spell that word with a C and not a K! I haven’t had chocolate for nine years as I am a chocoholic. I stopped coffee because of reflux and what can I say? Enjoy it while you can!
Your latest show comes at a particularly turbulent time in SA. What advice do you have for folks who are trying to remain positive during these trying times?
In Afrikaans I would say, “Moenie panic nie; alles sal regkom.” Democracy will always have speed wobbles, but at least we still have our freedom of expression. Come to the show and celebrate that. It’s a bit like the old radio show ‘Pick a Box’ – but as the show reflects much of today, call it Kies ‘n Doos.
Which book(s)/movie(s) can you read/watch over and over again?
Give me a Bette Davis any day. I love great, creaky, over-technicoloured musicals. (I watch) ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ at least once a month. And my beautiful Sophia Loren. In terms of books, autobiographies. Collected letters. All lies, but usually so compelling. And I read eight magazines per week and six newspapers per day. That’s homework.
* For more information on PDU’s doings, including upcoming projects, visit www.evita.co.za.
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