SOUTH Africa’s favourite satirist, Pieter-Dirk Uys, brings his newest offering to the stage soon when he presents An Audience with Pieter-Dirk Eish!
The show was a hit at the National Arts Festival last year and later at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town, largely because of Uys’s refreshing take on presentation – he basically presents a new show every night.
A press release explains that every night is a different show of 90 minutes, because the audience decides what they want.
The show’s format sees a choice of 15 boxes on stage and a member of the audience chooses a number.
Out of that particular box come specific characters and entertainment that could be either a drama, a comedy, a farce or “a shocking exposé”.
In an interview with Tonight Uys explained how the show’s concept came about.
“I had prepared it for the National Arts Festival last year. I had initially planned to take Adapt or Fly to the festival, but they said: ‘Don’t you want to try something different?’ I initially thought it would be a once-off show, but this isn’t a show where the audience has to focus on frightening political things and it has been popular.”
Uys said the reaction to the show had been varied and interesting.
He cites an example: “For the opening night at The Baxter Theatre half my audience was schoolchildren, because I gave some schools tickets. So half the audience was literally under 20 and this gave a fabulous balance to my usual audience, who’re in their sixties.
“The show is not a history class. I talk specifically of the 35 years of the development of democracy in South Africa. Quite a few young people have asked me if we are ever going to have apartheid again, and I said ‘no!’ It will never happen under the same name,” he said.
Expressing his views on the recent ANC/FNB debacle, Uys said he was very upset that the youths’ comments could be labelled “an act of treason”.
“I thought, how many of these young people must be reading this or hearing this and thinking ‘Oh s**t! I’d rather just keep quiet.’ And that is not true, they must not keep quiet. When we were young we were told children should be seen and not heard, and that is absolute rubbish. Let’s hear what they have to say.”
In his interaction with people through his work and politics in South Africa in general, Uys said he was too often confronted by people who said they didn’t watch the news or had no interest in the political situation of the country.
“People often say nothing is going to change. That is what a politician wants. He wants you to not watch the news and be (un)informed, so that he can go ahead and make decisions and change things without you knowing.”
Given the reality of the country’s changing political landscape and what seems to be increasing pessimism when it comes to faith in the government, we asked Uys what kept him at it all these years. Why he didn’t he just give up?
“During apartheid I thought nothing would get better, and it did. So the lesson learnt was that I cannot be pessimistic, because then you give up before you even start.
“My separate agenda, of course, is the Protection of Information Bill which, if it becomes law, and I’m sure it will, then they will have to send a spy to every show to see if I give away any state secrets.
“Because I will.”
The show’s press release offers a taste of what’s to come, saying that every box in the show “holds a familiar secret”.
“The audience could expect anything from Evita Bezuidenhout as a new ANC cadre, or Nowell Fine celebrating 40 years in the public eye. Maybe a Malema in Gucci or chains, some Zumas, married or not, one or two Mandelas, a Tutu, a PW or a Pik.
“What about Mother Theresa making sure that Jesus will only return if the ANC stays in power? Even a chorus line of former NP leaders chanting the old national anthem. A virtual Ha-Ha-History Channel.”
lAn Audience with Pieter-Dirk Eish! runs February 26 to March 10 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Tuesdays to Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm. R140 at Computicket.