Special Teddy Award


The Sout-African entertainer and HIV/AIDS activist Pieter-Dirk Uys will be given the Special TEDDY AWARD for his commitment especially in the educational advertising about HIV/AIDS in South-African schools and for his stage alter-ego Evita Bezuidenhoud, the “most famous white woman in South-Africa” as she was addressed by Nelson Mandela.

PIETER-Dirk Uys is a theatrical phenomenon: successful, influential, an educator and a perfectionist. His conversation is witty and provocative, rather like Coleridge’s definition of Imagination: a combination of sameness with difference, of the unexpected and the familiar, of friendliness and competition.

Uys’s name is synonymous with surprise and even with
shock, for he is a celebration of contradictions: hilarious and malign, polite and lewd, generous and caustic. But the most sensational of all his contradictions is that he has bamboozled us into accepting and keeping faith with Evita Bezuidenhout, the she who is a he, the amazingly actual star who has a complete life of her own.

Now, the joke of the pantomime dame lies in the tension between the female of the clothes and the sturdiness of the hairy male legs and heavy boots. The drag queen is the other extreme, really a man mocking a woman and at the same time trying to titillate the audience. Evita is somewhere in between: Uys, by the careful manipulation of Evita’s image on stage and screen, is a man, playing a woman, and making points about life. It is sublime character acting in which Evita takes on a visibility and a reality for audiences which vies with, and often subsumes, the public persona of Uys.

For Evita Bezuidenhout has her own inimitable style and career path. She has become a recognised celebrity, very much a part of the South African social scene. She has addressed Parliament. She has chatted to presidents and international movie stars. She is called upon to talk to book clubs, and to be interviewed on TV.

Yet, working from the premise that a politician whose intelligence is underestimated is more effective and more dangerous than a politician whose intelligence is respected, she never, ever misses an opportunity to hammer or lampoon those in government, for their conspicuously wasteful taste for the opulent and for their promises made and not kept.

What Uys has done, the trick that has been most successful, is to reproduce as accurately as possible something intrinsically funny in the way that most of us live. Once again he has repositioned himself, still illuminating the quirks and flaws in human behaviour , but registering and relishing them through the rich coherence of Evita’s own story, which Uys has built up over
time, now barricading her into the trivia of domestic life by having her produce a cookbook.

Published: 2010/08/10 08:04:17 AM
in the BUSINESS DAY Johannesburg

Foto © Crispian Plunket


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