The Suit

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A play based on a short story by Can Themba, adapted for the stage by Barney Simon and Mothobi Mutloatse, workshopped with the cast of the first production (1994). Story published in The World of Can Themba, E.Patel (ed), Ravan 1986.

The story is set in Sophiatown, just west of Johannesburg. A doting, newly-married husband returns unexpectedly one morning to find another man in bed with his wife. The man leaps out of a window, but he leaves his suit behind. The husband punishes his wife by making her treat the suit as an honoured guest in their home and in public.

Translations and adaptations

2016: Produced as a short film directed by Jarryd Coetsee and Luke Sharland his producing partner at Mandala Films.

Performance history in South Africa

1994: Adapted for the stage by Mothobi Mutloatse and dramatized and directed by Barney Simon. First performed at the Market Theatre and Grahamstown Festival in 1994 with Sello Maake ka Ncube, Stella Khumalo, Job Kubatsi and Alistair Dube. Stage manager Adam Steyn, set designer Sarah Roberts, lighting by Richard Barnes and sound by Dean Pitman.

2002: Staged by the Duze Workshop Ensemble in March 2002 in the Civic Theatre, directed by Jerry Mofokeng, with Vusi Kunene, Job Kubatsi, Sindi Dlathu and Alistair Dube.

2002: In 2002 a dance version of the play was developed and performed at the Baxter Theatre by ** as part of the *** Dance Indaba.

2002: Robert Whitehead, director, and Xoli Norman, musical score compiler, performed as part of the Market Theatre production of Mainland, a season of dance stories choreographed by Sbonakaliso Ndaba and Boyzie Cekwana, staged in the Market's Main theatre, 14 - 26 May.

Performance history abroad

1999: Performed in French, under the title Le Costume, based on Barney Simon's Market Theatre production and directed by Peter Brook for the Thêátre des Bouffes du Nord.

2011: Le Costume repeated in 2011, and then redone in English in London as The Suit, directed by Peter Brook for the Thêátre des Bouffes du Nord.

2013: Revived once more by the Thêátre des Bouffes du Nord, co-directed by Peter Brook, Marie-Helene Estienne and Frank Krawczyk, with William Nadylam and Nonhlahla Keshwa and a chorus of four actors and a jazz trio. Its first performance in the USA was in the Harvey Theatre, at the BAM Centre, Brooklyn, New York on 17 January 2013.


Review: The New Yorker February 4 2013 p9.

Tucker, 1997. pp 530, 538.

Material held by NELM: [Collection: MARKET THEATRE]: 2007. 32. 9. 123. 2.

Financial Mail, 24 March 2016.

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