Pieter-Dirk Uys needs no introduction to those of you who saw his political cabaret Foreign AIDS in the A.R.T.’s South African Festival in 2005. He was due to return to us in April 2007 with his new show Elections and Erections, but had to postpone due to difficulties with his own theatre in Darling, just outside Cape Town. We know how disappointed many of you were (though Mike Daisey is currently providing a magnificent alternative in Zero Arrow, which I heartily recommend if you haven’t yet seen it.) Anway, PDU will indeed be returning to us, in April 2008.
If you haven’t seen this master satirist at work, you’re in for a treat. Pieter creates his political commentary through impersonation – of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, F.W. De Klerk, Desmond Tutu, and a host of others, most notably his genius creation Evita Bezuidenhout (“most famous white woman in South Africa”) and her horrifying, bewitching sister Bambi Kellerman. All of these characters and many others join Pieter on stage, and the joy of his performance is not only in the accuracy of his depictions, but in the speed at which he transforms from one role to another.
Pieter was an powerful force in the fight against apartheid, and was often imprisoned for his efforts. After that regime fell he turned his critical eye on the South African government’s denial of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and has launched a widespread education program in the country’s schools and local community groups.
One of the most memorable aspects of Foreign AIDS took place after the show itself, when Pieter would talk with every member of the audience in the lobby, selling AIDS ribbons made by the women of Wola Nani. The lines stretched through the lobby for almost an hour after the performance; as several people noted, it was like waiting for communion with a particularly charismatic and irreverent priest. Anyone who met Pieter then will, I’m sure, want to come back for Elections and Erections, which promises to be a particularly pointed evening of satire in the middle of American primary season.
– Gideon Lester