The Echo of a Noise – a one man memoir with Pieter-Dirk Uys

The Echo of a Noise took everyone by surprise. After it’s first sold-out season at the Theatre on the Bay in 2016, the performer/writer has told his story to captivated audiences throughout South Africa. Now he will bring the experience back to the Montecasino Theatre. Having performed alone on the stages of the world for well over seven thousand times, Pieter-Dirk Uys has learnt that every show is the first and the last performance – because each audience demands and gets a different energy, topicality and excitement. Now in his 77th year, he doesn’t glance back at the successes and failures that have strengthened his belief in a constant improvement of his work, but at those small signposts that throughout his life subconsciously have pointed him in a right and original direction – his father Hannes Uys, his mother Helga Bassel, his grandmothers, his teachers, his passions: Sophia Loren, censorship, false eyelashes and making a noise when everyone demanded silence.

South Africa’s foremost satirist sits on a barstool, wearing his black beanie and his Almost Famous sweatshirt, and with his impish smile, he even looks like a naughty goblin trapped by the spotlight. Within minutes he fills the auditorium with his presence. This is just Pieter-Dirk Uys speaking and he opens his heart and talks about his private and public life. The big hair and silky repartee of Evita Bezuidenhout or the smoky drone of the sexy Bambi Kellermann have been stored elsewhere for some other time. It soon becomes clear that the title of his autobiographical one-man memoir, The Echo of a Noise, doesn’t really do justice to what he presents here. He leads you into his inner sanctuary, takes you through our history and shows where what is public and private meet.

Uys was and still is a voice in the wilderness, ever since he first appeared fearlessly on a stage in the 1970’s. He jokes that the all-powerful censor board was his own personal public relations department. We hear the recording of the voice of little Pietertjie Uys singing like an angel and accompanied on the piano by his father, Hannes Uys, whom he would accompany on Sundays to the church where ‘Pa’ was organist – the father whom he loved, but didn’t like very much; the sternest critic of his work and yet the one who could also give good advice. He tells of his father’s last moments, being with him as he died and then going back to the family home where Sannie, the housekeeper and his ‘Cape Flats mother’, asked if there wasn’t any washing from ‘Pa’. The audience is spellbound as he shares the suicide of his German mother, Helga, as well as the influences on him of his Afrikaans and German grandmothers. It’s as if Uys constantly takes his audience into his confidence and so breaks all the rules and crosses boundaries. He remains a master storyteller who can make as much fun of himself as he does with the others who get a lashing from his sharp tongue. This is arguably beyond the 7000th solo performance and yet it feels as fresh as his very first.

The Echo of a Noise is the most honest and wonderful performance I’ve ever seen him give. He’s a magnificent raconteur – Leslie Stones / Daily Maverick 28.3.2017
Watching this intimate performance was like having a one-on-one conversation with Uys – Karitha Pillay / Witness 23.2.2017
Pieter-Dirk Uys has a knack of knocking life into perspective. Even as we laughed, we left The Echo of a Noise much wiser, with thanks for the gift of this teacher/philosopher/actor/satirist/humourist. Long may Pieter-Dirk Uys remain our moral signpost – Sheila Chisholm / OnChisholm 4.4.2017
For me the show was a revelation of Pieter-Dirk Uys’s considerable courage, humanity, endurance and loyalty – Chris Sutton / Times 27.7.2017
He shared his personal history with such a profound sense of honesty that at times I was moved to tears – Wanda Daly ? Berea Mail 2.7.2017
A national treasure, a theatrical legend, a master craftsman, a constant inspiration – Pieter-Dirk Uys delivers his most poignant and gripping work to date with The Echo of a Noise. He is simply superb. – Billy Suter / Sosuterbill 27.7.2017
The experience of a great comforting hug is perhaps the best way to describe The Echo of a Noise. That hug is an ode to storytelling in service of the theatre and life that helped shape Uys as an all-round creative artist.
He’s engaging, dramatic, poignant, bitingly satirical and hysterically funny – performing the most riveting two hours without an interval. But you barely notice the time. Don’t miss it. – Caroline Smart / Artsmart 27.7 2017
The story he weaves in The Echo of a Noise is funny, sad, poignant and utterly compelling … Uys’s finest work. – Estelle Simkins / Witness 2.8.2017
This is an amazing glimpse into what created one of the most influential performers in South Africa. Uys is a master storyteller whose characters are always entertaining and at the same time often poignant. This wonderful trip down memory lane is a treasure and definitely a show not to be missed – Dawn Heynes / Livewire 8.7.2017
That’s what I took away from The Echo of a Noise – a feeling of solidarity and a night filled with laughter and some tears. And that’s Pieter-Dirk Uys. That’s always been Pieter-Dirk Uys. An artist who has, through the decades, united a very divided South Africa through laughter and later introspection. – Carla Bernardo / Cape Argus 1.12.2016
Pieter-Dirk Uys’ one-man memoir – The Echo of a Noise

Pieter-Dirk Uys has taken South Africa by storm with his provocative and deeply personal memoir The Echo of a Noise. It is a story that aches to be heard and Uys knows how to keep his audiences on the very edge of their seats waiting to hear about the great influences in his life: his father Hannes Uys and mother Helga Bassel, and of course his unlikely pen friend, the beautiful Sophia Loren. Audiences are given the opportunity to celebrate a life well lived in all its emotional states. Uys has played to full houses and sold out seasons. His masterful story telling, wit and wisdom are generously shared. As with so many of his performances he takes his audiences into his confidence, breaks the rules and crosses boundaries. Since the moment he first stepped on stage in the 1970s, Uys has been a voice where others have demanded silence. Jokes about the censor board being his own personal public relations department, gently disguise the reality that each time he tread the boards, he crossed lines and stepped on quite dangerous toes. He has always used humour as a “weapon of mass distraction” and describes the laughter he evoked as a relief from the fears that shaped South African society in 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. PDU unpowdered!