The Suitcase

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The Suitcase is a short story Es'kia Mphahlele, written in 1954. Set in the 1950s and based on an actual event, The Suitcase centres on a young rural couple, Timi Ngobese, played by Siyabonga Twala, and Namhla Ngobese, played by Xolile Tshabalala. The couple, despite family disapproval of their marriage, leave for the city. Filled with hope, the husband dreams of returning to the village with his fortune. But this hope fades and, desperate to provide for his pregnant wife, he steals a suitcase left in a bus, an act that dramatically changes his life.

Translations and adaptations

The story has been adapted for the stage by a number of directors over the years.

In 19** Barney Simon adapted and directed a version for the Market Theatre with **

Directed by James Ngcobo at the National Arts Festival, 2006, starring Siyabonga Twala, John Lata, Nqobile Sepamla and Mncedisi Shabangu. This production was also staged at the Barney Simon Theatre from 19 July to 20 Ausgust 2006. Chris Gxalaba, Mbulelo Grootboom and Finiswa Yisa. Patrick Curtis (set and lighting designer).

In 2011/12 James Ngcobo adapted and directed the story once more and the production was used to open the new Soweto Theatre in Jabulani on 16th May 2012.


Material held by NELM (Market Theatre 2006 production): [Collection: MARKET THEATRE]: 2007. 32. 9. 194. 4.

Review by Robert Greig published in Sunday Independent, 29 July 2006.

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