Of politics and pantomimes

2012-10-13 18:59

The Merry Wives of Zuma is not so much about matrimony as it is about what goes on in the corridors of power, which is why producer ­Pieter-Dirk Uys joked about taking it to the ANC’s congress in ­Mangaung in December.

Uys described the play as a “political pantomime” at its premiere at the Wits Theatre on Sunday.

But that was also the last show and the public won’t be able to see it because the funder withdrew out of “caution” after massive protests from the ANC about The Spear painting.

“People said this is not the right time, but this was like a red flag to a bull for me,” Uys said, adding he distributed the play to drama departments to perform as they liked.

Uys said the play, which was ­already planned in January, would have needed about R1 million to produce and take on tour, but after that was slashed, international ­programme Drama for Life came to his rescue. It gave him enough money to produce and perform the play for a week, which is what Uys and the 17-member cast did.

Uys joked: “If Nkandla ever gets opened up, I want to do it there in the opera house, and I will reserve a row for Zuma’s wives.”

Uys said the last time he was forced ­to pull a play for political ­reasons was in 1973.

The play includes characters such as town mayor Dr Dr Dr Gedley, comrades Vuva, Blunt, Juju and Yengi, and Magistrate ­Shlope.

It tells of how the mayor tries to woo two married women to become wives number three and four against the backdrop of a local election.

Despite addressing real issues like political manoeuvring (everything is done in the interests of the poor), corrupt dealings and fraud, Uys mischievously added a line saying the characters have no relation to people, living or dead.

Uys said: “Self-censorship becomes silence, and this is wrong.”

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