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.
His 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 and Desperate First Ladies have been presented in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Australia, the USA and Canada. His performance of Foreign Aids at La Mama received the Obie Award in New York in 2004.
Pieter-Dirk 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 Pieter-dirk Uys 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! He has been seen on SABC since the late 1970s in a variety of programmes, including An Uys up my Sleeve; One Man One Volt, which was to be screened prior to the 1994 election, but was held back for ten months; You ANC Nothing Yet in 1996; and The Great Comedy Trek in 2004. The series Going Down Gorgeous, featuring Nowell Fine in a saga from 1976 to 2004, was screened towards the end of the last century. Foreign Aids has been broadcast for Aids Day, 1 December, and in 2007 SABC2 presented Dinner with the President, a 13-part talk show hosted by Evita Bezuidenhout. Ten of Uys’s shows are currently available on DVD.
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 premiered a new play, Auditioning Angels, and 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. Uys’s biography of Evita Bezuidenhout, A Part Hate A Part Love, long out of print, was released as an eBook in 2012. His novel, Panorama, published by Missing Ink in 2013, is also available as an eBook.
Pieter-Dirk Uys was awarded South Africa’s prestigious Truth and Reconciliation Award in 2001. He has received honorary degrees from Rhodes University (D.Litt.Hon. 1997), the University of Cape Town (D.Litt.Hon. 2003), the University of the Western Cape (D.Edu.Hon. 2003), the University of the Witwatersrand (D.Litt.Hon. 2004) and University of Kwazulu Natal (Doctor of Literature honoris causa 2014). As well, Pieter-Dirk Uys’s 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, and in 2012 he received both the FW de Klerk Goodwill Award and the German-Africa Award.
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.
Recent successes include Evita for President, Elections & Erections, Desperate First Ladies, and F.A.K. Songs and Other Struggle Anthems, a cabaret revue featuring Bambi Kellermann with her Bokkie Band. During 2012 Uys launched his latest one-man onslaught, Adapt or Fly, throughout South Africa, with extended seasons in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town, and later toured it to Namibia, while in 2013 he added An Audience with Pieter-Dirk EISH! to his repertoire, and premiered a new Bambi Kellermann cabaret, 50 Shades of Bambi, at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town. Highlights of 2014 included sold-out seasons of Adapt or Fly in Cape Town and Johannesburg and a two-week run of An Audience with Pieter-Dirk Uys at London’s Soho Theatre.
In April 2009, Uys directed Macbeki, his first new play since 2003, at the Market Theatre, Johannesburg. His next new play, The Merry Wives of Zuma, was premiered in late 2012.
In 2010 Uys published a cookbook, Evita’s Kossie Sikelela, which was followed in 2011 by Evita’s Blackbessie, her diary-journal and back-up for cellphone information, as well as the autobiography of Evita’s younger sister, Bambi Kellermann, Never too Naked. A second cookbook, Evita’s Bossie Sikelela, appeared in 2012, and Uys’s novel, Panorama, was published in 2013.
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 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, Kyknet 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, where he lives, will celebrate its 20th anniversary. The venue, which Uys converted from the old Darling railway station, 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.