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17 Works 79 Membros 4 Reviews

About the Author

Image credit: Pieter-Dirk Uys

Obras de Pieter-Dirk Uys


Conhecimento Comum

Nome padrão
Uys, Pieter-Dirk
Outros nomes
Bezuidenhout, Evita
Data de nascimento
South Africa
Local de nascimento
Cape Town, South Africa
Locais de residência
Darling, South Africa
social activist
Bezuidenhout, Evita (alter ego)



A fascinating second volume of memoirs from Pieter-Dirk Uys, the follow-up to Elections and erections, this time taking a critical (but still very entertaining) look at his career as playwright/actor/director. There's the fun, satire and name-dropping we would expect, but that's not really what this book is about: Uys is trying to set out on paper what he has learned from forty years on the stage, passing on useful information at a very down-to-earth level (the logistics of running a one-man show; how to market yourself on local radio; 1001 uses for beer-crates) but also getting involved in more abstract questions - the relationship between laughter and fear, which he spent quite some time on in the earlier book, gets another outing, and there is a lot of discussion of how you can make satirical comedy work effectively for different kinds of audiences. There's a lot of failure and frustration in between the successes, and Uys is clearly a perfectionist who wants his readers to know exactly why a show flopped, why a satirical squib missed its target, so that they will have more chance of getting it right. We get quite a few extended extracts from his plays, mostly with a detailed commentary: I should think this book would be an absolute goldmine for theatre students.
Something that he doesn't boast about, but which comes over very clearly in the writing is Uys's ability to create a character in a few words - just have a look at his sketches of the local kids in the opening and closing chapters of this book. It's a trick, of course, and it must be a skill you need to learn when you're writing for the theatre or for newspaper columns, but it still impresses me every time. Uys may not claim to be an Afrikaans Rudyard Kipling or P.G. Wodehouse, but he does share at least one thing with them!
… (mais)
thorold | Sep 22, 2010 |
I hadn't come across Pieter-Dirk Uys until some South African friends lent me this book, but he and his drag character Evita Bezuidenhout are obviously cherished and feared institutions in his own country. (I did have a look at some of his material on YouTube, and it is every bit as funny as the book would suggest.)

This very entertaining book contains a fairly short autobiographical sketch and two longer pieces, one a tour diary of the voter-education roadshow which took him to all corners of South Africa in the run-up to the 1999 elections, and the other an account of his work to inform schoolchildren about the dangers of AIDS. It's striking that both these major projects seem to have been run out of his own pocket or from private donations: Uys clearly still treasures the freedom to say what he thinks, and is wary of becoming beholden to any official sponsor.

A book like this might well come over as self-satisfied and smug ("What were you doing while I was saving the world from AIDS and Apartheid?"), but Uys steers well clear of these dangers. His self-deprecatory humour helps a lot in this - when he mentions that Mandela kept a photo of himself with Evita Bezuidenhout on his desk, he makes sure we read it as a penetrating illustration of Mandela's character, not as a claim to fame on the part of Uys.

It's not just whimsy, of course: there's a lot of real anger in the book, at the vanity and self-interest of politicians (old and new), at the disease that is killing so many of his compatriots, at prejudice, incompetence and apathy. Whilst there's a great deal to laugh at in the book, some of that anger will certainly rub off on the reader too.

For non-South African readers, it's worth noting that there is a useful glossary and translation of Afrikaans words in the back of the book.

(BTW: If you can't find a print copy, I notice Uys has the etext of this and a number of other books available free on his own website)
… (mais)
thorold | 1 outra resenha | Sep 20, 2010 |
Pieter-Dirk Uys is arguably South Africa's most famous satirist, AIDS activist and entertainer. Here, in his memoirs, he writes with his customary combination of wit and wisdom on such diverse topics as his youth, his early days in theatre, and the birth of Evita Bezuidenhout - his alter ego. He deals frankly with sex, politics, HIV/AIDS and the bizarre twists and turns of contemporary South Africa. Needless to say, one hilarious adventure after another unfolds along the dusty country by-roads. Much of the book is about Uys' great passion: educating schoolchildren about the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Uys decided that it was time to go to war against ignorance, brandishing his own unique assortment of weapons - wigs, costumes and - of course - a plastic penis. On his visits to schools far and wide, Uys and Evita convey the safe-sex message through honesty, openess and outrageous humour. The characters he meets are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, always human.… (mais)
QAHC_CCCL | 1 outra resenha | Sep 3, 2009 |
Of course, one should see Dirk Uys perform his plays. One of my old and tested loves.
experimentalis | Mar 19, 2008 |


½ 3.4

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