The Suit

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The Suit can refer to a number of dramatised works based on a short story by Can Themba (1924-1968), including a stage play, a dance drama and a short film.

The Suit the stage play

Written and improvised .

Also known as a short film.

The original text

The play is based on the well-known short story by Can Themba, published in The World of Can Themba (E.Patel (ed), Ravan Press 1986). Adapted for the stage by Mothobi Mutloatse (1952-) and Barney Simon (1932-1995), it was further workshopped with the cast of the first production (1994).

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

The Suit - a dance drama (2002)

A dance version of The Suit was developed and performed as part of the Market Theatre production of Mainland in 2002, a season of dance stories choreographed by Sbonakaliso Ndaba and Boyzie Cekwana,

The Suit - a short film (2016)

Adapted for a short film, produced by Mandala Films, directed by Jarryd Coetsee and Luke Sharland.

Performance history in South Africa

1993: - A play by Can Themba. Directed: Barney Simon. Cast : Sello Maake kaNcube, Stella Khumalo, Job Kubatsi, Alistair Dube at the Market Theatre.

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.

2001: Chris Weare directed a University of Cape Town Drama Department production of his adaptation of the play.

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

2002: The dance version of The Suit performed as part of the Market Theatre production of Mainland, choreographed by Sbonakaliso Ndaba and Boyzie Cekwana, with Robert Whitehead as director and Xoli Norman as musical score compiler. It was staged on the Market Theatre's Main theatre, 14 - 26 May and as part of the Dance Indaba at the Baxter Theatre in **.

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.

Ruphin Coudyzer. 2023. Annotated list of his photographs of Market Theatre productions. (Provided by Coudyzer)

Tucker, 1997. pp 530, 538.

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

Die Burger, 29 December 2001.

Financial Mail, 24 March 2016.

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