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ONE MAN SHOWS: the black and white years

Pieter-Dirk Uys’s latest book – One Man Shows: the black and white years – published by Missing Ink, is presented here free for all who wish to download and read it.:


Download the text of One Man Shows: the black and white years


Uys, who has made all of his dramatic play scripts available online, spent the 2020 pandemic lockdowns sorting out the satirical revues that have been part of his life since 1981. One Man Shows: the black and white years includes his first seven one-man shows. It takes the reader through the revues that dodged censorship and the authorities, and shows how he used humour and irony to highlight the hypocrisy and corruption that were part of South Africa’s daily life under apartheid.


* His first one-man show, Adapt or Dye, opened on April Fool's Day in 1981 and introduced Evita Bezuidenhout to the nation and then the world, touring internationally throughout the 1980s.


* Total Onslaught 1984, subtitled Yes-No-Orwell-Fine, reflected the Nationalists’s new constitutional plans for the future.


* Beyond the Rubicon played on PW Botha's notorious speech at the 1985 National Party Conference, where his announcement of crossing the Rubicon caused the rand to become a cent overnight.


* Rearranging the Deckchairs on the SA Bothatanic depicted South Africa as a luxury liner with familiar white people in first class and everyone else in steerage.


* Cry FreeMandela the movie, inspired by Richard Attenborough's film Cry Freedom, showed a local version of the dramatic story of an escape from the security police with the news of brutality and murder most foul.


* A Kiss on your koeksister took the shape of a 1990 National Party bazaar that bizarrely showed the state of a confused white nation after the release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of the ANC.


* The 1994 election inspired One Man One Volt, which was performed over the tense and exciting days of capturing a rainbow nation while turning black and white into colour.


In addtition to the text of each show, Uys also takes the reader through the backstory of each production, the ups and downs of the politics of the day and the media reactions, and includes archival photos of the characters and the famous faces of the Volk.


Uys might have been alone on stage, but his chorus line of characters in One Man Shows: the black and white years filled each performance. While the politics of the black and white years are anchored in 1981 to 1994, the realities of political tensions, legalised racism, corruption, state capture and rumbles of revolution make what this one man shows through this book very topical at this time of pandemic regulations, misinformation and political confusions.


Applications for performance rights, both professional and amateur, should be addressed to:


PD Uys Productions

productions@evita.co.za


But please read this collection of one-man shows with pleasure.  We hope to add further PDU one-man show collections in future.

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Pieter-Dirk Uys documents the black and white years, using humour and irony in a time of upheaval

While some of us spent the pandemic lockdowns baking banana bread, discovering the differences between online video platforms and experimenting with home workouts, Pieter-Dirk Uys took the time to sort through the records of a 40-plus-year career in theatre. By day, by night, and often by candlelight (thanks to Eskom), Uys compiled his latest book – One Man Shows: The black and white years.

– Tamsin Metelerkamp, Daily Maverick, 4 January 2022


In his latest book, One Man Shows: The black and white years, Pieter-Dirk Uys takes the reader on a candid meander through his first seven one-man shows, a journey that spans 13 years between 1981 and 1994.


During a time of political turmoil, censorship and legalised racism, Uys’s satirical revues used humour and irony to show the double standards and immorality that marred South Africa under apartheid.


“I exploit reflections in the cracked mirrors of daily life, entertaining in a minefield. During the 1980s it was like doing the tango in front of a firing squad,” says Uys in his book.


The book includes the text of each show, from Uys’ first one-man show, Adapt or Dye, which opened on April Fool’s Day in 1981, to his 1994 election inspired One Man One Volt, which was performed during the days of South Africa’s transition to democracy.


Along with the scripts, Uys provides the backstories of each production. Through sharing personal anecdotes, political insights and the media reactions from that time, Uys allows the reader to understand the social backdrop against which the shows took place.


The book is brought to life not only by the text, but by a patchwork of photos, posters, newspaper clippings and other sentimental keepsakes from a lifetime in the arts. The faces of many of Uys’ characters – Nowell Fine, Piet Koornhof, and of course, the iconic Evita Bezuidenhout – peer out from the pages.


While the “black and white years” of 1981 to 1994 are behind us, the themes that can be found in Uys’ work – corruption, State Capture, political tensions – still hold relevance in today’s South Africa.


The book is a reminder to look critically at the world around us, and to never underestimate the unconventional power of theatre in a time of societal upheaval.


The link to One Man Shows: The black and white years can be found here.

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