elections & erections

The Annex

May 5 - 7, 2008
Monday - Wednesday at 7:30pm

Tickets $25

Written and performed by Pieter-Dirk Uys

Photo: Evita for President
Photographer: Crispian Plunket

Read Pieter's interview by Martin Denton, nytheatre.com

Also read a fabulous review by nytheatre.com

“Elections & Erections” is a journey through the minefields of fear and fun from the point of view of a white South African - Pieter-Dirk Uys pitches his satirical tent at the crossroads of two impending elections - The USA Presidential one in November and the next South African General Election in April 2009. It is his latest, most outrageous attack on political outrage, which underlines the “mock” in democracy.

The higher politicians climb the pole of ambition the more of their asses we can see.” — Pieter-Dirk Uys

One of the world’s great political cabaret performers, Pieter-Dirk Uys has been raising laughs and AIDS awareness in South Africa and worldwide.  He brings with him a host of special guests, all of whom he performs with uncanny accuracy and deep affection, including Nelson and Winnie Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and his most outrageous creation — the glamorous Evita Bezuidenhout, the self-described “most famous white woman in South Africa.” 

“BC/EFA is proud to present with LA MAMA e.t.c. Pieter-Dirk Uys’ ELECTIONS AND ERECTIONS.   We have nearly had enough of one and never tire of the other.   But while we worry about such things, it is great to have Pieter kicking up some dust, pointing a well-deserved finger and metaphorically giving the finger to those here and abroad who blatantly continue to profit and hold onto the power to do so at the suffering of others, millions of others.   BC/EFA welcomes the chance to give Pieter (and his dear friend Evita Bezuidenhout) a platform to do what he does so well:  tell the truth with outrageous humor, cutting intellect and uncommon courage.” Tom Viola, Executive Director, Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS

“Elections and Erections” makes its New York City Premiere during America’s own election year! Pieter Dirk Uys last appearance at La MaMa e.t.c. won him an OBIE in 2004 with his acclaimed show Foreign Aids. “Elections & Erections” comes directly from a successful engagement at the A.R.T.’s Zero Arrow Club Theatre.

"Pieter Dirk Uys' ELECTIONS AND ERECTIONS: "A Chronicle of Fear and Fun" contains brilliantly funny moments; sharp observations and, of course, the appearance by some of the performers most familiar alter egos - notably the outrageous, oblivious Evita Bezuidenhout, "the most famous white woman in South Africa".  Uys' skills as a performer and mimic are remarkable!"  

-  Louise Kennedy, THE BOSTON GLOBE
April 10, 2008

'Pieter Dirk Uys love of the homeland whose hand he bites comes through loud and clear.  A master clown, the self-effacing Uys manages to be lovable even when his material is scathing.  ELECTIONS AND ERECTIONS is worth getting it up for!"  

- Carolyn Clay, THE PHOENIX
April 8, 2008 

nytheatre.com review
by Martin Denton
May 5, 2008
read this online

The writer/performer of Elections & Erections is South African actor/activist Pieter-Dirk Uys (that last name is pronounced "Ace"). He was last in NYC (also at La MaMa) back in 2004, which is where I discovered him. He's a huge star in South Africa but not so well known here in America; his is a mammoth talent, and he has a heart to match. He genuinely cares about the subjects he talks about: principally, the devastation that AIDS is wreaking on his homeland and on the rest of Africa, and the myriad social/political/economic tribulations of South Africa and, too, of America and the world. Uys is a humanist performer who uses satire to teach us what we either should know but don't, or do know but forgot.

The content of the show is often devastatingly and/or outrageously funny. He portrays a variety of characters in the course of the evening, including some real people he actually knows (Bishop Desmond Tutu, whom he reveres even as he gently pokes fun at him; both Nelson and Winnie Mandela) and made-up characters who have become iconic, including his most famous creation, Evita Bezuidenhout, an outspoken white South African woman who was once the poster girl for Apartheid but is now throwing herself wholeheartedly into the cause of Reconciliation. (She's also running for President of South Africa in 2009; Uys tells us that just because she's not real doesn't mean she doesn't exist.)

He also talks about himself, as an artist whose work often threatens to bite the hand of a government that, at least in the days of Mandela's rule, feted if not fed him; and about what it meant to be a gay white man attracted to black men in South Africa in the 1960s, when both gay sex and interracial sex were illegal. His tale of a furtive one-night stand with a gardener in his shed is remarkably affecting.

But important as what Uys has to say always is, for me it is his consummate skill as a theatre artist that proves most impressive about Elections & Erections (I felt this way about his last show, Foreign Aids, as well). Uys is a drag artist who dons and removes his drag in front of us, stripping away the artifice very publicly to remind us of the core truths underneath each performance. It's mesmerizing to watch him transform himself from a decidedly unglamorous middle-aged man in black shirt and pants to a dazzlingly glamorous middle-aged woman, merely with the addition of some makeup, a wig, shoes, and a few accessories. It's not just that he looks different—he really seems to become someone else. Even a very broad caricature of Mother Theresa in heaven is realized as a fully fleshed-out (albeit deceased) woman who is nothing like anybody else she shares the stage with in this one-man show.

The paradox of this ordinary-looking man switching into a host of extraordinary larger-than-life characters parallels the effect of Uys's show on an audience, which is to make us laugh uproariously one moment and then come up short in the very next moment as we grasp the enormous ease with which humans can be corrupted, can be unjust.

For its artistry and its significance—not to mention the worthy cause benefiting from the proceeds of this particular engagement—Elections & Erections deserves your attention. I only wish Uys were keeping it here in New York for a longer time.


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