Ons kan nog lag, dis oormôre se erfenis
Hulle sê mos: oppas vir wat jy voor wens. By my was dit altyd om ‘n jaar af te vat! Dit was die fluister in my kop elke Nuwe Jaar met ‘n blik op die volgende twaalf maande se skedules.
Vir 2020 was daar 230 teatervertonings ingeskryf: seisoene in Johannesburg, Kaapstad, Durban, Londen met ‘n paar spatsels in Berlyn en Nederland. Lyk my iemand het my fluister gehoor. Ek is nou halfpad deur daardie af-
'Hoe behandel die inperking jou?' Almal vra dit virtueel. Gewoonlik op die foon, deur 'n WhatsApp, of vaag en sag van agter 'n masker. Amper sewe maande van nil-
Skielik is daar meer as genoeg tyd om dinge te doen wat vir 20 jaar wag. Ek is nou my eie verhoogbestuurder-
Die grootste ophou is: wie sal na die Covid nagmerrie wil sit en vermaak word deur ondervindings in 'n pandemie? Dus gaan alles maar terug in die boks onder die bed. Sal weer later daarna kyk en besluit. Miskien was al die skryf net 'n belangrike terapie?
Kan 'n mens dan ooit gewoond raak aan daardie daaglikse gedagte: oppas vir alles daar buite; anders gaan jy dood. Op my ouderdom is dit nie meer 'n vraag nie, meer ‘n vervaldatum. Dus word inperking agter toe deure liewers 'n keuse as 'n las. Ek mis die omhelsings, die handskud en die hello-
Erfenisdag op 24 September is altyd 'n goeie verskoning om terug te kyk na die dinge wat nie gewerk het nie. Om behoorlik elke misoes te onthou voordat dit weer gebeur. Te dikwels was die redes ander se kastige goeie raad wat dankbaar aanvaar is. ‘Nee, skat, daardie drama het twee pouses nodig.’ Eintlik nee, die enigste rede is om drank in die voorportaal te verkoop. Ek sal altyd na raad luister, maar dan ‘n tweede opinie soek. En vir altyd die spook van instink respekteer. Jy sal dit nooit verstaan nie, want dis maande vooruit, maar jy ignoreer dit op jou eie risiko.
Digitale teater het nou die stil verhoog opsy gedruk. My derde opvoering 'op die wolk' vind juis op Erfenisdag plaas. Die titel ‘Adapt or Fly’ kom van vêr, maar die politieke hardkloppings is uit vandag se hygings en kan ook sinspeel op die hantering van die virus en hoe ons daarby moet aanpas. Hierdie aanpas-
Ek neem almal saam op ons lang stap na vryheid, gelei deur die ruiters van die Boere Apokalips: Malan, Strydom, Verwoerd, Vorster, PW en FW. En dan die betwyfelbare beskermengele van ‘n nuwe normaal: Mandela, Mbeki, Zuma en 'n huiwerige CR. Dit gaan ook oor ‘n erfenis: die politiek van gister, vandag en môre. En alles opgedis met die soet-
Uit my satiriese swerm (klink beter en meer hardlywig in Engels se satirical cluster) is Mrs Petersen van die Kaapse Vlaktes, Nowell Fine nou by haar 59ste matriek makietie, en al die bewoners van die Unigebou as deel van die opskopkoor van ikone en aikonas. Hulle kan natuurlik nooit almal gelyk op my verhoog wees om mekaar in die bek te ruk nie. Ek bly maar die gom wat al die menslike stukkies bymekaar hou.
Die feit van die live-
Party mense in die brekende nuus sukkel naderhand om nog iets nuuts te sê, maar met wat ons land se politiek in hierdie pandemie oplewer is genoeg om voor lekker te lag met 'n traan. Weereens, soos met apartheid en Vigs, is niks snaaks nie, maar die belagligheid van korrupte aflewerings waarborg 'n
gesonde kwaai lagbui.
Ons politieke skurke sê mos maklik: ‘Patrioot: onskuldig tot skuldig verklaar’. Ek is bevrees dat die sin nou so moet lees: ‘Politikus: skuldig tot onskuldig bevind’. Amper almal in ons huidige politieke spektrum probeer teaterlik die uitslag van korrupsie onder die grimering van skynheiligheid wegsteek. Daar is jammerlik min goeie ouens in die politiek oor; net kader opdrifsels en vrot (l)eiers. Maar ons kan nog lag. Dis ook oormôre se erfenis.
(Quicket / Penny Lane Studios: 'Adapt or Dye' Donderdag 24 September om 18h00 SA-
– Eat.Play.Drink, 15 September 2020
ON Heritage Day, Thursday, September 24, at 6pm, nearly 40 years after PW Botha gave him the show title Adapt Or Dye, Pieter-
A lifetime ago, Uys began his total onslaught against careless, corrupt and unacceptable politics. Apartheid might officially be dead today, but the careless, corrupt and unacceptable political crooks and clowns are still dancing centre-
Tickets for Adapt or Fly cost R70 per person via Quicket. The show will remain online until September 28 at 7pm with at the same price.
What the Media have had to say:
“Clever impersonations and brilliant repartee after sailing fearlessly close to the wind. Uys loves his country with a passion and has done more to educate in the complexities of the country’s politics than any television or newspaper coverage.” – ArtSMart
“The barbs are biting, the puns politically incorrect, the satire scathing and wit intact. It’s funny stuff.” – Sunday Tribune
“Adapt Or Fly is an enlightening, thought-
“Marvellous master of wit!” – The Mercury
ADAPT OR FLY (Episode 2016)
Uys may be years older than when he opened ‘Adapt or Dye’, but his material is as fresh today as it was then. The players may have changed, but the game has not.
– City Press
Uys still has us rolling on the floor after 35 years. There’s enough to keep you laughing at (his) unique brand of satire, to keep you moved, hooked and, at times, in awe too.
– The Sunday Independent
He will take you on a familiar long walk to freedom, through the various chapters of National Party rule with impersonations of DF Malan, JG Strydom, HF Verwoerd, BJ Vorster, PW Botha and FW de Klerk, and into the familiar terrain of amandla-
So banish the blues – come and enjoy the blacks, whites, browns, yellows and ‘others’ that make up this unique country of our dreams. As long as we can laugh at our fear, we are still in charge of our future.
– Monday Missile Dot Coza
Among others in his satirical cluster in this show are former NP Minister of Foreign Affairs Pik Botha, Cape Flats icon Mrs Petersen, legendary old white liberal Nowell Fine and our beloved Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Uys dons false eyelashes and presidents listen.
– Los Angeles Times
Adapt Or Fly – Market Theater 30th Sep-
– Brian Trudgeon, On The Planks, 2 October 2014
What a wonderful evening I spent at The Market Theatre last night. It is a true jewel in the crown of Johannesburg. The drinks were cold and the buffet hot, just as it should be. The place smacks of art and history laced with enchantment and nostalgia for me.
One of South Africa’s most iconic personalities is back on stage with his new production Adapt Or Fly. Pieter Dirk Uys has to be the ultimate patriot.
One is quickly reminded that not every struggle hero carried a gun or spent time incarcerated on Robben Island. These artistic heroes braved life and limb reaching out and telling the stories of a pre-
I am always left gobsmacked at Pieter’s ability to capture the essence of the characters in government he portrays, both living and dead. His imagined characters always push the envelope. I am always left thinking; I can’t believe she said that. Mrs Pieterson as a character was pure delight to meet last night. One can only gasp.
After a career spanning many decades Pieter stays on the cutting edge of South African Politics. I would even say the bleeding edge if you are a citizen.
From a very chilling opening scene, a conversation between Julius Malema and Adolf Hitler to the last uplifting commentary at the end, the show is not one you want to miss. It does not shy away from the burning issues so big no fire pool can quell the flames. It comes with its warnings. It shows you what an uncertain future in could be. It gives you hope that it does not have to be. South Africa is still a wonderful place to be warts and all.
Brave is the man who will risk portraying Madiba himself. I know Madiba would be laughing. Done with a love that is familiar to us all. Kudos Mr uys.
This is worthy show from a freedom fighter, patriot, and all around warm and wonderful human being. I would recommend it to both the young born frees, and those born before 1994. It shows the evil absurdity in the ghosts of our past of our past and harsh reality of our present.
It inspires the future. This is a future we are fighting for, to ensure we all have one. Take heed.
Tea with a National Treasure: Pieter Dirk Uys in Adapt or Fly
– Caitlin Clerk, Musings and Musicals, 2 October 2014
I had never seen him perform live, but suddenly this unobtrusive, humble and hilarious icon of South African satire was sitting on the stage in front of me, dangling his feet between two plush red chairs. Ok, we didn’t actually have tea, I lied. But wouldn’t that have been a treat? And “tea” and “treasure” are so beautifully alliterated that I couldn’t help myself. You’ll forgive me, I’m sure. Pieter Dirk Uys introduces himself to each of us before he takes a deep breath and starts talking.
I stressed the whole afternoon about what questions to ask this man, who’s [sic] many faces I have grown up with and loved. I wondered how I could possibly word anything so that it would sound witty enough. In the end, I didn’t need to worry at all because Pieter (we’re besties now and on first name terms) graciously answered every possible question I could have had about Adapt or Fly before I had even considered interrupting him. With such a natural affinity for story telling, he relaxed our little interview most organically in to a short play with the potential for audience participation. And there you have it! Why would you want to interrupt him anyway?
Adapt or Fly is about our road to democracy, paralleled and compared to Pieter’s own 69 years of life. “I have to tell the truth” he says, “we laugh at fear because our own naivety is so ridiculous.” He describes a “tango with the audience” and how he considers himself a reactor and not an actor. He has been handed politicised material on a platter for his entire career, and the advent of democracy didn’t change this. “Apartheid will never come back…under the same name” he jokes. Or is it a joke? I’m not so sure.
Thirty three years after Adapt or Die [sic] and their debut at the Market Theatre in 1981, Pieter Dirk Uys and Tannie Evita return to perform Adapt or Fly. In many ways, this is a circular experience for us all — both titles are inspired by politicians, both plays are cutting, both subject matters will leave you laughing but then stop you short of enjoying the message. So much has changed since 1994, and yet so much has come back in a nasty undercurrent of secrecy. To me, Adapt or Fly was a warning from a seasoned political activist. The message was simple but pointed: be careful!
Get Tickets: http://online.computicket.com/web/event/adapt_or_fly/832459035
At 69, satirist keeps South Africa laughing
– Christopher Torchia, Associated Press, 30 September 2014
JOHANNESBURG — The cross-
"Sometimes the truth is funnier," said Pieter-
Uys, who is 69 years old but said Tuesday that he feels 30 years younger, was on the cutting edge of criticism of South Africa's white rulers, who more or less tolerated his pointed humor during an era of conflict and censorship. And he's still around, a monument to reinvention who targets a messy democracy.
In a sense, Uys is back where he started.
In 1981, when apartheid South Africa was edgy and fearful, he launched a one-
Now, on the same (recently renovated) stage, he is opening a four-
They include P.W. Botha, an apartheid president; Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president; and Julius Malema, a former member of the ruling African National Congress who is now one of its fiercest critics.
Uys will play signature character Evita Bezuidenhout, a flamboyant white woman from the Afrikaner minority and stalwart of the apartheid era. Uys has kept the character current — Evita is now a member of South Africa's ruling African National Congress, which won re-
Evita even has her own Twitter account.
"It's really important that she is in the armpit of power because she reflects power," said Uys, who put on false eyelashes, makeup (including lip gloss, or "portable Botox," he said), a wig and a wispy garment in the ruling party colors of green, gold and black.
It was part of his transformation into the gaudily attired Evita, a kind of behind-
"Every time I do her, I must remember she's not a cartoon," Uys said. "In fact, she's got to be so real that the women recognize the woman and the men forget the man."
He pulled out a puppet of Malema, a self-
Malema, who has hammered at President Jacob Zuma over alleged corruption, is also under scrutiny, appearing in court Tuesday for a fraud and racketeering case against him. The case was postponed until next year and he defiantly said he had nothing to hide.
Malema has introduced a "new energy and new alphabet in this country," Uys said. "Do not ignore the things that he says."
Uys doesn't expect a return of racial segregation — "We've got the T-
"The cornerstone is to keep a sense of humor," he said.
Theatre — Pieter-
I have an official typed letter in German framed above my desk. I see it every day. I read it. It was written on August 19 1935 from the office of the president of the Reichsmusikkammer.
It was addressed to Helga Bassel, a young pianist living in Berlin. It stated blandly that because she was a Jew, she would no longer be allowed to perform in public.
She ignored the warning and kept performing. In 1937, she was forced into exile. She went to Cape Town. Helga Bassel was my mother.
How easily a written paragraph can end a life, destroy a dream or paralyse through fear. In the 1970s, I also received letters from a nationalist government. The Publications Control Board banned three of my plays in quick succession, making me the most banned playwright in South Africa for those few months.
I quote from some of the official correspondence, giving their reasons for preventing me from performing my work in a public place. My plays were:
» “Likely to pain and offend many persons, but particularly those members of the population of the Republic of South Africa, whose constant endeavour it is to uphold a Christian way of life.”
» “Deemed to bring a section of the inhabitants of the Republic into ridicule or contempt.”
» “Deemed to be harmful to the relations between the black and white inhabitants of the Republic.”
These letters are not framed above my desk. They are now part of an exhibition celebrating our history through the prism of humour in our Museum/Nauseum at Evita se Perron in Darling. It shows that sometimes when history repeats itself, it can take tragedy and turn it into farce.
In 1981, I’m 36 years old. Prime Minister PW Botha announced a democratic general election for whites only. Where’s the fun in that? So I planned to stand as an independent candidate in the Johannesburg constituency of Westdene against the incumbent MP, the minister of foreign affairs, Pik Botha.
“But what would happen to Pik Botha if you won?” someone asked.
That made up my mind. Go back to the theatre. Do a one-
There I was in 1981, after a general election for whites only, with more material than I could ever use, plus a title from the mouth of PW Botha. Time to open Adapt or Dye. The only theatre that dared to allow something like that at the time was The Market. We opened there as a late-
Today people ask: “How did you survive all that?” Easy. I’m white. White survived. Black died. So one had to use one’s whiteness to reflect the madness. There was only one way to adapt and not die. Put all the props, wigs, shoes, costumes in the cardboard boxes outside the stage door in the alley. Stay on stage. If you leave to change, they might be waiting behind the curtains. Don’t have blackouts after a sketch, as a blackout could give them a chance to invade your space and black you out. Even having an interval means they can go to their cars and load their guns. At least you’re safe on stage in the lights and in front of witnesses.
Adapt or Dye meant life or death. It was a black and white Broederbond Bondel. Adapt or Fly is a rainbow review with a satirical cluster. It doesn’t suggest: become as corrupt, or get out. It echoes the freedom to laugh at fear and make it less fearful. Be in charge. Be a democrat. Be an optimist who expects the worst, hoping that the worst will never be as bad as you imagined. So let us toast this remarkable country with a glass that is always half-
» Catch Pieter-
Geskiedenis word herhaal — Pieter-
– Lourensa Eckard, Beeld, 23 Oktober 2013
Dieselfde klokkies as 30 jaar gelede kan gehoor word en dieselfde stankies as 30 jaar gelede kan geruik word.
So het die komediant Pieter-
“Die ANC belowe huise en toelaes vir almal, maar ons moet onthou die NP het dit ook gedoen,” het hy gesê.
Adapt or Fly is ’n verwysing na 30 jaar gelede se Adapt or Dye, wat geïnspireer is deur die Groot Krokodil, oudpres. PW Botha. Uys het gesê die geskiedenis word herhaal.
“Die vraag is net of dit tragies of komies gaan wees?”
In Uys se nuwe produksie spot hy met ’n ieder en elk van die NP se leiers, van D.F. Malan tot FW de Klerk. So ook die ANC se leiers, het hy gesê.
“As Zuma nie daarvan hou dat ons met hom spot nie, kan hy uittree en ons sal dadelik ophou.”
Die ANC het die morele hoë grond gehad, met die klem op “gehad”, het hy gesê. Uys is baie opgewonde oor nuwe opposisiepartye. “Dis baie goed dat die hok ’n bietjie geruk word. As jy in ’n demokrasie woon, moet jy jou huiswerk doen.”
Dit is nie sy werk om mense deur sy komedie in te lig nie. “Ek wil mense vermaak en ek wil nie aanhoudend my vinger in die politici se oë steek nie. Ek wil hulle eerder agter die oor kielie.”
Hy het ook geen begeerte om polities korrek te wees nie, het Uys gesê. “Ek verstaan nie die term nie. Niks van die politiek is dan korrek nie.”
gesê. “Dis baie broos, maar ons het nog vryheid van spraak. Almal is geregtig op hul opinie, of jy nou ’n rooi baret of ’n khaki baret dra.”
In the picture with Pieter-
– Diane de Beer, Tonight, 22 October 2013
Check the picture and the characters carefully. You might recognise a few and be familiar with others. Pieter-
From left to right in the back row:
• A female figure in black, reputed to be the Saudi Arabian Princess to become Wife #5 (or is it 6?) to President Zuma so that his billion-
In Holland she was thrilled to be there and not across the border in France where the dress would be frowned upon and then she turned to her audience and asked: “Can you see the bomb?” while pointing to her tummy.
• Mother Theresa sits in penance about the fact that Jesus is determined to wait till the ANC is out of power before he comes back. She’s there to rattle the cages of structured religion. But all the angels are on strike until Jesus comes back and he wants to wait.
• Old kugel Nowell Fine is one of Uys’s favourite friends, and coming on this road from Mangaung not just for the ride. She was created in 1975 and with those particular speech patterns, a woman one day turned to Uys and said in exactly that accent: “Who is she, I’ve never met anyone with that accent!” But she’s also the one that says the ANC is slow, they take their time and turn into every cul de sac before they find the freeway.
• Big Issue seller Bennie holds up his edition (a non-
Apart from the politicians and celebrities, he is the only one of the characters based on a real person. He is a coloured bergie who Uys used to pull out of the gutter on his way from home.
Years later, this Big Issue seller greeted him and reminded him about those sad years “when I was coloured and you were white”.
Now he sells the Big Issue and works with street kids and told Uys to visit the children as Evita. “Let them laugh, and then we tell them the painful truth.”
• German Chancellor Angela Merkel wondering if the job as a bank manager in Athens wouldn’t be easier. And there’s the hair, the worst hairstyle in Europe.
“It looks as if she’s used grease to get it right,” says Uys, never at a loss for words. But with Merkel he also has to plan carefully because she and Bambi share a blonde wig. He has to stage-
• Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, all singing, all dancing, all wonderful and one of Uys’s most beloved characters. “He is my most important character.” He was also the first black person Uys ever did on stage.
“I need his optimism,” he says. But he’s also not scared to say things that he feels people should hear. “Lots of freedom, little speech,” is one of his favourite sayings.
“He is also the only other man in the country who wears a long purple dress,” quips Uys. But we need the good and Tutu both acknowledges and represents that.
From left to right in the front row:
• Retired Nationalist Minister Pik Botha brushing up on his Madiba Magic pops into Adapt or Fly. Of course he has joined the ANC and can’t remember anything about apartheid. “He’s a bit like a doorman, slightly mouldy,” says Uys.
• Bambi Kellermann is loving every moment of the limelight and that’s a good thing. Uys also sees her as his future. “I can’t keep doing this format that has been part of the show for 30 years,” he says. Partly he feels uncomfortable playing black people. “It’s really tough. I once tried to play Manto Tshabalala-
Keeping out of trouble and skating just inside of what was considered the law was what created the show’s format he stills plays today: 49 percent anger and 51 entertainment. “I had to find a way to tell the truth. Good legs also helped!”
• Evita Bezuidenhout holding her adopted little Polokwanean baby is furious to be in the same set-
Her next move is to Nkandla because she has decided to cook for the government. “If you’re too fat, the people will starve,” says the sage.
• PW Botha still in a state of shock realising that while he crossed the Rubicon, he just ended up in the Wilderness. Uys laughs at the irony that in his old age, he even looks like his old nemesis. “I can’t leave him off a show. Even if I just wag a finger and wiggle my tongue!”
In the end it is all about voting: “We have to make sure the future is there. It could disappear like soft perfume.”
Keeping a cocked eyebrow on the nation’s affairs
PETER TROMP spoke to Master satirist PIETER DIRK-
– Peter Tromp, The Next 48 Hours, 5 June 2012
Tell us about ‘Adapt or Fly’. What can audiences look forward to with the show?
I use my cracked mirror of satire to reflect our cracked democratic society, wracked with anger, frustration, drama, problems and yet also huge relief that some areas are working relatively well. A careful balance of 49% anger and 51% entertainment. Now more than ever we need to laugh at our fear
‘Adapt Or Fly’ comes 30 years after ‘Adapt or Dye’. As a keen eyed satirist, how do you feel things have changed during that time? Are we really better off today than in the past?
Everything has changed so much that sometimes it looks the same. Apartheid will never come back under the same name, but bad politics reinvents itself and can imprison us again with fear. Bucket toilets, no schoolbooks, government corruption, squeamishness about cartooned penises all ring bells of recognition. We were there once?
It seems that all across the world governments and ruling elites have found ways to circumvent democracy. Are you concerned that history’s cyclical nature might mean a new age of authoritarian leadership is on the horizon?
SA does not follow a blueprint of democracy: it is the blueprint — and so one does not look at other countries for examples. I have a feeling that as we move towards a more confident democracy, the world will be sliding back into right wing fascism and soon will have sanctions against us — because we are not like them!
Do you still believe in the ability of the arts to transcend the stupidity that permeates our national political and media discourses?
Art has always shown a way round the manure heap of politics. There are so many different ways to attract attention of the public and the politicians. Obvious ways, subtle ways, offensive ways — all good, if done with style — and comedy is still the greatest weapon of mass distraction
The “Spear” debacle is still fresh in people’s memories. Do you feel that the ruling party has perhaps lost their sense of humour, or was their outrage justified?
Let us not forget the nightmares that resurfaced in the memories of millions of our people when they remembered how they were treated during apartheid. I think the spear was just a portal to that darkness. A mountain out of a molehill? The joke is only the glasses were Zuma’s. The coat was Lenin’s, the apparatus came from bigcocks.com on the internet.
As someone close to Evita Bezuidenhout, can you divulge any secrets behind her reasoning for joining the ruling party? Will she address this issue in the show?
Evita wants to be in the kraal smiling out and not outside frowning in. I think the ANC deserve her, as the National Party deserved her. Let Tannie alert us to where all the bodies are buried and how much the comrades have moved off to Swiss banks. She’s got experience of those things.
You have famously made Darling your home town. How are things going at your base of operations, Evita se Perron? And how do you feel about being the ambassador for an entire town?
Evita Se Perron is 16 years old. It is a work in progress and I am thrilled that we are on the international route. (Robben Island in the a.m., Darling in the p.m.) Each weekend we have shows and the world is flocking to see, laugh, eat and drink. Tannie is the star of the nonsense, especially with her ‘Evita Bezuidenhout Boulevard’ easily found on the GPS.
Are there any questions from pesky journalists that you have grown tired of answering over the years? (Fingers crossed I haven’t asked one of them.)
During apartheid they asked, “Are you gay?” My answer still is: yes, I am a homosexual on Monday and Wednesday. On Tuesday and Thursday I am heterosexual. On Friday I am bisexual. On Saturday I do it myself and on Sunday I rest.
I have it on pretty good authority that you make a mean koeksister. Who would win in a koeksister bake-
I am hopeless in the kitchen. I don’t even know where it is. I must follow the cat. So Tannie will win.
How do you like to relax and be entertained when you’re not performing for others?
Love my animals. Watch plants grow. Enjoy a Bette Davis movie. Write a book. Read a book. Repack bookshelves.
What is up next for you?
A new cookbook for Tannie, ‘Evita’s Bossie Sikelela’, out from Umuzi in August. A new play ‘The Merry Wives Of Zuma’ out in November in Johannesburg and Cape Town in April 2013.
Weapons of mass distraction
– Kgomotso Moncho, Tonight, 3 April 2012
He still has a lot to say and it’s still very political and satirical, engaging with South Africa’s politics and touching on issues that have been at the heart of his work, including human rights, freedom of speech and expression and HIV/Aids.
It makes you wonder why he keeps going.
“You are as successful as your last show, so I can’t slow down. Theatre doesn’t wait for you to retire and I have been unemployed since 1975, so I’ve got to do this. And it’s been wonderful to experience audiences laughing at their fears,” he says.
He’s included in the National Arts Festival 2012 programme and will form part of the Season of Solo Plays featuring productions by some of South Africa’s top established and up-
Uys will present An Audience with Pieter-
He comes to Joburg with his new show, Adapt Or Fly, opening at the Joburg Theatre today. This comes 30 years after the premiere of his ground-
He’s just finished a run in Durban and says the spokesperson of the ANCYL gave him the title of his new production when he said: “If you don’t like the way things are going under the youth league, you can adapt or fly”, and Uys was only too grateful.
But the underlying agenda this time appeals to the youth (those under 40) to not take their freedom for granted.
“The main issue today is that we have the most liberal constitution in the world that we ignore at our peril; that we have the freedoms to speak and to inspire, but are in danger of losing them; that history is repeating itself by turning tragedy into farce,” says Uys.
He brings with him a number of characters in what he calls “a long toyi toyi to freedom” and these include Evita Bezuidenhout, PW Botha, Piet Koornhof, Pik Botha and Nowell Fine, balanced with the new voices of today – Mrs Pietersen from the Cape Flats; a former security policeman now in Iraq; Madiba; Mbeki; Motlanthe and, of course, Zuma.
“On this road to Mangaung, anything is possible,” he quips.
And in that case, he can’t leave Malema behind. Uys is intrigued by his volatile energy and believes what he says is terribly important.
His work in Gauteng also involves being honoured with a Carnegie fellowship at Wits for its Drama For Life 2012 programme. John Kani was a fellow in 2010.
The Carnegie Resident Equity Scholars Programme focuses specifically on engaging scholars to assist Wits in establishing a culture and process of dialogue, managing the institution’s cultural diversity, and meeting the challenge of cultural fluency in the institution and the nation.
Selected scholars are sought from academia, government, the private sector, NGOs, entertainment and the arts to engage with the university community in a focused programme of lectures and public forums that seed dialogue and engagement on controversial issues.
Uys has been given honorary degrees from institutions like UCT and Rhodes, but this is the first time he’s been asked to do something with the students and that excites him very much.
“I’m enjoying the energy of being with young graduates at the start of their professional lives and sharing with them the experiences from my 40-
He will give a lecture on April 23 at the Wits Great Hall at 1pm titled You ANC Nothing Yet — On the Road to Mangaung. You ANC Nothing Yet was the title of his first one-
“I had taken off two years because there was no need to attack and criticise our new government, for whom I had voted and fought for through the Struggle years. But eventually politicians found me.
“The show You ANC Nothing Yet was maybe ahead of its time, because in 1996 our honeymoon was in full bloom. Now, 18 years later, the party is over. I will focus on the use of humour as a weapon of mass distraction – and the need to find ways to laugh at our fears, not because they are not there, but because a sense of humour can make that fear less fearful.
“HIV is a reality. Racism is a reality. Freedoms are still a reality, but they can so easily be replaced by laws that pretend to protect. They don’t. Without the freedom to speak, we slide back into the darkness of the past. So my talk will touch on touchy things – with humour. And without Evita. She’s busy.”
Uys will also work on a new comedy with the Wits students called The Merry Wives of Zuma, inspired by Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, and local politics, coming out in Joburg in the second half of the year. This is inspired by a play he did at the Market Theatre, McBeki.
He takes Adapt or Fly to the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town from June 11 and hopes to be in Bloemfontein in time for the Mangaung ANC congress.
Adapt Or Fly starts at the Joburg Theatre today and runs until April 29.
SA secrets are safe with Evita
Evita Bezuidenhout, South Africa's most famous white lady of politics, has joined the ANC, with the sole purpose of chairing the proposed media tribunal, satirist and playwright Pieter Dirk Uys has revealed.
– Edward Tsumele, Sowetan, 3 April 2012
Evita (Uys), dressed glamorously in a yellow green dress with white stripes, announced her new political allegiance yesterday at a media conference held at Johannesburg Theatre in Braamfontein.
The satirist, known for witty and yet bold takes on South Africa's political elites from the apartheid era right through to the current political leadership, said she wanted President Jacob Zuma to know that she is ready to take on the role of chairperson of the proposed media tribunal.
"I want him to know that I am ready and available to assume that responsibility. I can assure him that in me he will have a balanced chairperson of the media tribunal to take care of issues of media freedom," she said.
In a interesting twist to the proceedings at the media conference, Evita took the opportunity to introduce a black "child" in the form a wooden statue that has a striking resemblance to beleaguered ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema.
Her "child" was unveiled from a piece of clothing that has the face of former president Thabo Mbeki.
"Charlize Theron has just adopted an African American child, and that is a perfect story of an Afrikaans person adopting a black child. And just like her, I have decided to also adopt a black 'child'. This 'child' I have adopted from Polokwane, and this piece of cloth I picked it up in the streets of Polokwane at the 2007 ANC conference. The first name of this child starts with a J," said Evita amid laughter from members of the media.
Evita is the famous alter ego of prolific playwright and satirist Pieter-
"Adapt or Fly! Mrs Evita Bezuidenhout, Kidi Amin, Pik Botha, Nowell Fine, Mrs Petersen, the old Krokodil, Madiba and the dancing DA are coming to the rescue. In a time of depression, recession, fear and anger. What is better and more healing than a good laugh at the expense of those who depress, recess, frighten and annoy us?
Just like almost all his productions so far, a collection of famous politicians including past National Party leaders (DF Malan, JG Strydom, HF Verwoerd, BJ Vorster, PW Botha and FW de Klerk), and ANC presidents from Nelson Mandela, via Thabo Mbeki, through Kgalema Motlanthe to Jacob Zuma are the subjects of his new satirical work. In this production Julius Malema's nickname is Kidi Amin.
Tannie Evita changes her colours
– Theresa Taylor, The Star, 3 April 2012
Evita Bezuidenhout looks at home in her green print dress and ANC scarf.
“I must stop sending Julius Malema koeksusters,” the mischievous tannie giggles. “He really is showing.”
On the eve of Pieter-
Along with apparently being considered as Zuma’s seventh wife, Bezuidenhout claims she was given a special position within the ANC: first chairperson of the media tribunal.
“(The ANC run) a government by the people, for the people, who obviously don’t like the people,” she said brightly.
“Do you have any specific questions which I won’t answer because one never answers anything specific in the ANC.”
Bezuidenhout, who was involved in the National Party through her late husband, advised the ANC to return African foreigners to the “homelands” of Ghana and Nigeria, but blasted Egoli becoming “Etolli”.
She even offered a kind word to DA leader Helen Zille on the scandal about refugees in the Western Cape.
“She doesn’t mean refugees literally… she means people who have gone on a holiday and had their car stolen so they can’t go home.”
Following suit from Charlize Theron, Bezuidenhout proudly showed off a bouncing baby boy she has adopted, swathed in a Thabo Mbeki blanket — Baby Johannes, who comes from Polokwane.
“Somebody said the other day he reminds them of someone, I can’t imagine who.”
Adapt or Fly will run from today until April 29 at the Fringe theatre at Joburg Theatre Complex. Call 0861 670 670 for bookings.
Hoe meer dinge verander...
PW Botha het dit destyds gesê: “Adapt or die.”
Baie van sy vreesbevange wit ondersteuners het aangepas, maar te veel van sy woedende swart onderdruktes is dood.
Ek het net gesê: “Dankie vir die titel.”
Adapt or Dye het twee jaar lank, tot einde 1983, deur die land getoer ten spyte van sensuur, wette, woede, die oom-
Mense sê nou dit het ons geleer om vir onsself te lag. Ag nee wat! Destyds het die Voortrekkers aan die lewe gebly met ’n sin vir humor.
Hoe sou hulle kaalvoet oor die Drakensberg gesukkel het sonder ’n glimlag op hul stowwerige gesigte?
My eerste eenmanvertoning was suksesvol danksy die beste teksskrywers in die land — die Nasionale Party-
Piet Koornhof was in volle gang as een van die argitekte van apartheid. Dít is voordat hy vir die wêreld bewys het dat onafhanklike ontwikkeling nooit kon werk nie toe hy sy eie Ontugwet in die openbaar verbreek het.
Daar was Andries Treurnicht en destyds se Juju, Eugène Terre’Blanche. Die enigste verwysing na die gegrom oorkant die bult was ’n pakkie met die letters “CNA” wat omgedraai is na “ANC”.
Nou, 30 jaar later, is ons in die 17de jaar van ’n reënboognasie. Daar is nou jong Suid-
Die koue mis van bedreiging is terug. Praatjies van nasionalisering van banke en myne; grond-
Maar gelukkig het ’n woordvoerder van die ANC-
En toe voeg hy by: “Adapt or fly!”
En ek sê: “Dankie vir die titel.”
Adapt or Fly is 30 jaar ná Adapt or Dye die nuwe Suid-
En weer eens is my materiaal verskaf deur die beste teksskrywers in die land: Die ANC in Luthuli-
Nie net het ek ’n dansende president wie se umshini wami-
Daar is wel van die ou garde wat nog aanhang met passie, witblits en amnesie. Pik Botha is al met my sedert die begin van die 1980’s.
Hy was waarlik die St.?Christopher-
Die ANC is 100 jaar oud. Dis altyd lekker om ’n verjaardag te vier. Gewoonlik gee ons vir Ouma of Oupa ’n bedpan of gehoorapparaat.
In Adapt or Fly gee ek Piet Koornhof aan die ANC as ’n nuwe kader; iemand wat hulle kan help vir die volgende 100 jaar. Soos Piet swart mense in Suid-
En dan, soos 30 jaar gelede toe ’n jongerige dame met ’n pienk hoed haarself voorgestel het as die vrou van die LV van Laagerfontein, mev. Evita Bezuidenhout, kom die bekendste wit vrou in Suid-
Tannie is dan die voorsitter van die mediatribunaal. Sy stel die nuwe president van Suid-
Die teksskrywers het besluit. Die stemmers sal dit ondersteun. Al wat ons kan doen, is lag.
5 minutes with... Pieter-
“The extraordinary thing about Julius Malema is what he says is terribly important”. Pieter-
– Hannah Keal, Newswatch (East Coast Radio), 16 March 2012
"Humour is a great weapon of mass distraction," comments master satirist Pieter-
It's 30 years since he premièred 'Adapt or Dye', (a play on PW Botha's infamous words: 'Adapt or die') a ground-
His latest offering is an at once dark and fall-
Q: How did your new show come about?
A: This one's called Adapt or Fly — also given to me by politicians. Someone in the ANC Youth League said "if you don't like the ways things are going under the Youth League, you can adapt or fly!" and I thought 'oh, thank you!'. I think we've got quite a serious year ahead, on the road to Mangaung, with the ANC not governing us but fighting each other, so we've got to sort ourselves out ... The things one focused on during the apartheid years, now suddenly you are thinking 'but wait, why is the smell the same?' And you realise it's got nothing to do with apartheid; it's politics. It's careless politics, and it's also corrupt politics and it happens throughout the world. So that's where the targets emerge.
Q: In terms of using satire as political commentary on stage have things changed for you since 1994?
A: Totally. The Apartheid government killed people. The new democratic government lets them die, which makes me even more angry. TB, HIV, poverty, no water, no electricity, still the bucket system after 18 years of democracy. It doesn't make sense. So there's enough motivation to get out there and not shout — because it doesn't work to shout from the stage — [rather] get a balance of 49 percent anger, 51 percent entertainment. That's the secret.
Q: How have audiences received Adapt or Fly?
A: Durban is always a very interesting audience because I think KwaZulu-
Q: Tannie Evita and you have been very critical of Julius Malema in the past. What do you make of the current developments in his political career?
A: Malema is fabulous material. I am delighted because everybody knows who I am talking about. That's pretty important. I say JuJu in Poff Adder and they know what I am talking about. It's been a very interesting soap opera of politics ... I think the extraordinary thing about Julius Malema is what he says is terribly important. Everything he touches on is a major issue that we all should be concerned about. The way he did it tripped him up. I think he was a little bit taken by his own small print, and the media blew him up into this big humpty-
Q: Do you feel positive about South Africa's future?
A: I know where we come from, and I can assure you it's a far better place that we're in now. It's a speed wobble on a daily basis, it's dicey and it's not that predictable, but we've got the freedom to have opinions. We've got the freedom of speech, the freedom of expression, we can move around at will — we can live. That's where we've got to stay. We've got to be free.
Adapt or Fly runs until Sunday March 18 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in Durban. Book via computicket. Pieter-
South Africa 2012, satirist Pieter-
– Wanda Hennig, South Africa Travel Examiner, 6 March 2012
“When history repeats itself, it takes tragedy and turns it into farce,” observes master South African — and internationally acclaimed — satirist Pieter-
Observing the current political landscape — corruption is rife and press freedom is under threat in South Africa — Uys notes that, “In theatre, jeopardizing our freedom of speech is as dangerous as the apartheid threat was in those days. (Controversial former ANC youth leader) Malema is a wake-
“At the height of the Malema-
“From the multi-
Uys, same as during his apartheid regime-
“The best part of it all is our ability to laugh; we have to present our reality with humor,” he told Thompson.
Laughter at fear has always been Uys’s trademark, from the darkness of his first one-
In a time of depression, recession, fear and anger, what is better and more healing than a good laugh at the expense of those who depress, recess, frighten and annoy us?
Thirty years ago Uys started his total onslaught against careless, corrupt and unacceptable politics. Apartheid might officially be dead but, he points out, careless, corrupt and unacceptable political crooks and clowns are still dancing centre-
Thirty years later he revisits his watershed Adapt or Dye by presenting a new show, which is a personal political comedy-
“The characters have aged — we are all 30 years older — and many of the characters I play are now representing my own age,” says Uys.
“It is also about the wisdom of experience and celebrating our optimism in this 30 year trek, and our need to remember where we come from. Apartheid will never come back with the same name, but we need to keep our eye on the ball because it will re-
“We need to hold onto the light and remember that there are far more good people than ‘not good’ people. I regularly note that we are surrounded by compassion and good will. We spend too much time focusing on third rate people with fourth rate ideas. We need to move away from Chernobyl politics before we get radiated.”
Adapt or Fly is inspired by politics, but also by South Africa’s constantly evolving society. “I love to observe change. Now when I say something funny on stage, the whites in the audience look at the black people before laughing. Laughter in itself has become a democratic process. It is no longer necessary to speak on behalf of anybody — we all have a voice. For now ...”
Clearly Uys is excited by the changing landscape, and by engaging with new audiences.
“It is amazing how few young people remember we were in a civil war. Of course it is not right to dwell on it, but feedback from young people is immensely valuable. They say that their parents didn’t talk about this. The pain is still there and the damage is lasting triggered by army memories and whites-
“The pain doesn’t just go away.
“It is also interesting when older people see the show, because we were all young people together. It asks questions about the nostalgia of history — we mostly remember where we were when JFK was killed, but what are our memories of when 30 black people were killed in the townships? All the anger can be fixed. If we can fix the terrible horror of then, we can fix the irritation of bad politics of today.
“Extraordinary people need to be remembered, so this show is about people not just politicians. (We live in) a very exciting minefield to do the tango in.”
The show runs at the Sneddon Theatre in Durban (March 6-
Evita’s family is growing
– Lee Rondganger, Daily News, 2 March 2012
Mrs Evita Bezuidenhout, the alter ego of master satirist Pieter-
She was there sticking it to the National Party; she took on the rights of SA and spoke an uncomfortable truth to the ANC.
But what many people do not know is that it was 31 years ago, in a small Durban theatre, that Evita made her first public appearance.
Tannie Evita, as she would later be affectionately called, was not your typical middle aged Afrikaner woman, the audience back then would discover — she had strong political views that went against the apartheid government and she didn’t care if she ruffled a few feathers to get her point across.
Next week, Evita Bezuidenhout returns to Durban as part of Uys’s new show, Adapt or Fly, at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, where she is expected to pull no punches on the current political climate, Julius Malema and SA’s favourite bugbear: corruption.
Uys’s one man show starting on March 6 will see him reincarnate himself into no fewer than 17 characters, from National Party icons such as PW Botha and HF Verwoerd to President Jacob Zuma and Malema, while navigating SA’s slippery political highway.
Adapt or Fly is a sequel of Uys’s Adapt or Dye play performed in 1981. Its title came from a phrase Botha used in 1980s, when he told white South Africans to adapt or die.
“Back then I was reflecting the politics of SA, Piet Koornhof, Botha, the state of emergency, you know the usual cocktail of horror that we grew up in,” Uys said.
The first show of Adapt or Dye was performed in Durban in a theatre run by Saira Essa.
“The aim was to be provocative,” Uys said. “It was important back then to make statements about the state of the nation because, remember, in those days it was politically correct to be racist. It was pretty dangerous and grim, yet the humour made a big difference, and that is when I discovered the need for humour for some really serious things.”
Uys said that the newspapers were supportive of his show and splashed Evita on the front pages.
“And then I started to get into trouble. The censor board came in and started messing around, but that became my PR department. The censor board gave me publicity money could never buy,” he said. Much of the material derived for his early plays came from the National Party and Botha.
“They pissed me off so much that I had two options. Did I want to take a gun and shoot PW Botha, or make people laugh at him? Laughter was much more powerful,” he said.
The new play includes characters such as Nowell Fine, Zuma and his machinegun, Madiba and the dancing DA.
The difference with this show is that many characters form part of the new regime.
“It is weird how politics repeats itself and how the horror of yesterday becomes the confusion of today, and there are sort of echoes of things that were happening then that are happening now. Corruption is corruption — the only difference is the apartheid government called it policy,” he said.
Uys said this year’s show would entertain both the young generation who may have not suffered the brutality of apartheid — but will laugh at the current regime — and the older generation who will remember what it was like then.
“My generation will obviously see an enormous amount of detail in the some of the material, but the younger generation I would like to encourage to come watch because it is the story of where we come from, so that the young South Africans ensure that this must never happen again and that apartheid must never come back under a different name.”
Despite the serious nature of the material, Uys said the point was for people to laugh.
“The play is not scary, the real world is scary. The moment you come into the theatre you are in Disneyland and I will make you laugh,” he said.
Alter egos set for a hard landing
– Tonight, 28 February 2012
In a time of depression, recession, fear and anger, what is better and more healing than a good laugh at the expense of those who depress, frighten and annoy us?
Celebrating 2012 as a year of “radical change” in SA through political paralysis, Tonight caught up with some of the characters from Uys’s new show to get their thoughts on the state of the nation, its politics and politicians, and the socio-
Here’s what they had to say:
Advice to Juju from Uncle Adolf: I was helped out of political obscurity by the financial crash of 1929. Your crash will come. Promise the poor anything. They are the majority.
Evita Bezuidenhout on the Budget: Yes, Minister Gordhan sounds like Oprah. Government’s first and main commitments are education, housing, health and welfare. Then, once everyone is alive and well, transport and the environment. Then, when everyone has travelled and seen the beauty of our country, security and tourism, to bring them in with their investments and let them out with their lives. No one celebrates a 100th birthday on state funds!
Former apartheid president PW Botha: I always said it and I’ll say it again: “Adapt or die!” Now all you hear in the queue at the Australian high commission is: “Adapt or fly!” I won’t say it again, but let me state here most categorically: “I told you so!”
FW de Klerk: Blame me! Someone had to open that door and it could not be a member of the ANC because they were all inside. So viva, Pretoriastroika!
Mrs Pietersen on the Cape Flats: How can they call the DA a whites-
Julius Malema: It’s not just my woodwork; I blame Bantu Education for everything. How must I know the word “suspension” doesn’t mean “promotion”?
Jacob Zuma: I’m on my way to New York with the first ladies. Where is the empty Jumbo Jet? My ZuMamas need their shopping trolley!
Nowell Fine (old white liberal kugel now in her seventies): I am not having a nervous breakdown because I trust the ANC, I swear to God. They will investigate every cul de sac before they find the freeway.
A security policeman, now retired: “Roses are red, violets are blue, apartheid is dead, and so are you!” Ja, I must laugh.
There is ou Jacob Zuma still with that cloud of corruption hanging over his head.
And me? Golden handshakes, amnesty and a nice security job in Iraq. Life can be beautiful.
Former apartheid prime minister BJ Vorster: Ons sal lewe. Hulle kan sterwe.
The architect of apartheid, Hendrik Verwoerd: Ah, Mr Tsafendas, what can I do for you?
Madiba: Graça, please switch TV channels to The Bold and the Beautiful. I can’t take the breaking news any more.
Some interesting facts before you see the show:
• ”Adapt or die” was said by then prime minister PW Botha when he announced his proposed revisions of apartheid policies as a prelude to the 1981 general election, which was still for whites only. Uys started his onslaught against the racist regime at the Market Theatre, then toured the country and went overseas with his show.
• Adapt or Dye was the first local video — a recording of a Market Theatre performance in 1982 — to be introduced through DVD stores and those few outlets that had the courage to make it available. That was its essence: humour.
• Thirty years ago Uys started his total onslaught against careless, corrupt and unacceptable politics. He feels apartheid may officially be dead, but the careless, corrupt political crooks and clowns are still “dancing centre stage”.
• He says his new show will be “a personal political comedy-
• Laughter at fear has always been an Uys trademark, from the darkness of his first one-
|Works to Date|
|Evita's free Speech|
|Freedom of Speech & Expression|
|Elections & Voter Education|
|Beyond All Reason|
|Die van Aardes van Grootoor|
|Farce About Uys|
|Going Down Gorgeous|
|Going to Heaven|
|Just Like Home|
|The Merry Wives of Zuma|
|No Space on Long Street|
|Noel & Marlene|
|Ouma Ossewania Praat Vuil|
|Paradise is Closing Down|
|Rare & Protected|
|The Rise and Fall of the First Empress Bonaparte|
|Same Old Story|
|Selle ou Storie|
|Elections & Erections|
|Between the Devil and the Deep|
|Articles by PDU|
|Articles about PDU|
|New Yorker PDU profile|
|Adapt or Fly|
|An Audience with Pieter-Dirk Eish!|
|Desperate First Ladies|
|Die Van Aardes van Grootoor: The Musical|
|The Echo of a Noise|
|Elections & Erections|
|Evita Bezuidenhout & the Kaktus of Separate Development|
|Evita for President|
|F.A.K. Songs and Other Struggle Anthems|
|50 Shades of Bambi|
|#HeTwo: Evita Exposed!|
|When in Doubt Say Darling|
|Archived Articles by PDU|
|Archived Articles About PDU|
|Adapt or Fly|
|An Audience with Pieter-Dirk Eish!|
|Bambi in Kabaret|
|Bambi Vile and Vunderful|
|Desperate First Ladies|
|Die Van Aardes van Grootoor: The Musical|
|The Echo of a Noise|
|Elections & Erections|
|Evita & Co|
|Evita Bezuidenhout & the Kaktus of Separate Development|
|Evita for President|
|F.A.K. Songs and Other Struggle Anthems|
|50 Shades of Bambi|
|For Fact's Sake|
|Going Down Gorgeous|
|#HeTwo: Evita Exposed!|
|Live from Boerassic Park|
|The End is Naai|
|You ANC Nothing Yet|
|When in doubt, say darling|