The Coat

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The Coat is a play by Athol Fugard and the Serpent Players. A workshopped “acting exercise” about a prisoner and his coat, based on a real incident during the trial of members of the company in 1966 when Fugard was approached by a man who had been sentenced to ten years hard labour, requesting him to take his coat back to his wife as a memento. In the play the family debate the future of the coat, eventually deciding to place it on a hanger and keep it until the old man returns home.

The original text

Published in The Classic in 1967. In 1971 it was published by Balkema in one volume together with The Third Degree by Don MacLennan.

Also published in My Children! My Africa! And Selected Shorter Plays by Wits University Press and in The Distance Remains and other Plays by Oxford University Press.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

Performed in New Brighton in 1966, it was revived at the SABTU festival in 1972.

The Port Elizabeth theatrical society Pemads extended an invitation to the Serpent Players to show their work. In the end, despite certain restrictions put on them, the Serpent Players agreed to perform before the white audience.


The Eastern Province Herald, 6 June 2006.

Various entries in the NELM catalogue.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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