National Arts Festival: Day Three

Thinkfest was first up on A Feast of Tales’s agenda on day three of the NatArtsFest with a discussion on Gender Politics. The hour’s dialogue indicated that this rhetoric-laden topic still favours too much – well – dialogue and too little practical application. An over-aggressive approach also emerged as a problem. Number two on our schedule was the dialogue-heavy House of Truth in which actor, Sello Maake kaNcube, told the story of writer Can Themba and his struggles during apartheid to be recognised as a teacher. The drama had a good script but was depressing and failed to hold the audience’s attention for its overly long 90-minute duration. Hannah Arendt was another ‘struggle’ piece, though this time in the form of a movie. Like the Sophie Scholl film we saw on day two, Hannah Arendt presented a view of Nazi Germany somewhat different to what we were used to. In this story German-Jewish philosopher and author, Hannah Arendt, wrestled with the problem of evil, putting forward the – scandalous – ideas that German perpetrators of crimes in World War II may simply have failed to think and that Jewish victims may have been complicit in their own victimisation. Our day ended with the brilliantly executed The Echo of a Noise by Pieter Dirk-Uys, in which this renowned performer gave an autobiographical account of his life, revolving mostly around his combative relationship with his ‘Pa’. Rich, funny, tender and well-rounded, Uys’s performance was very deserving of its standing ovation.


Nobody’s Died Laughing

Durban International Film Festival 2016: Short, sharp reviews by Brenda Daniels

This excellent documentary by filmmaker Willem Oelofsen traces the life and work of well-known South African satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys. The director was present at the screening I attended and he explained that viewers should have been as exhausted once the show was done as Uys must be at the end of each of his very busy days. The film is indeed packed full of details about Uys from childhood to the present time. It includes interviews with several different celebrities and colleagues; face-to-face time with Uys himself; excerpts of several public performances around South Africa and abroad; visits to his home; and details of his humanitarian work.

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