OZ presents The Suit

The Suit cast members Kheswa and Ivanno share a kiss.  photo © Pascal Victor - ArtcomArt

The Suit cast members Kheswa and Ivanno share a kiss.
photo © Pascal Victor – ArtcomArt

A phenomenally engaging drama is being staged in Nashville’s new prime venue for contemporary arts. A heart-rending exploration of marriage and survival in apartheid South Africa is coming to OZ, Thursday, May 22 through Sunday, May 24. Based on The Suit by Can Themba, the show utilizes three actors and three musicians to tell the story.

THE SUIT by Brook, Nonhlanhla Kheswa, After - Can Themba, Mothobi Mutloatse and Barney Simon, Adaptation, Direction and Music - Peter Brook, Marie Helene Estienne and Frak Krawczyk, Lighting - Philippe Vialatte, Potographed in Paris for the Young Vic Theatre, 2012, Credit: Johan Persson

THE SUIT by Brook, Nonhlanhla Kheswa, After – Can Themba, Mothobi Mutloatse and Barney Simon, Adaptation, Direction and Music – Peter Brook, Marie Helene Estienne and Frak Krawczyk, Lighting – Philippe Vialatte, Potographed in Paris for the Young Vic Theatre, 2012, Credit: Johan Persson

The Suit focuses on Philomen, a middle-class lawyer, who catches his wife Matilda in the midst of an affair. Her lover flees, leaving behind the eponymous garment of the play’s title. As punishment, Philemon makes Matilda treat the suit as an honored guest, preparing meals for it, entertaining it and taking it out for walks as a constant reminder of her adultery. The LA Times review proclaims “every actor moves like a dancer. Every actor speaks like a singer. And song pervades all. Pianist and accordionist, trumpet play and guitarist underscore the production with arrangements of Schubert songs, South African songs, African American blues, ‘The Blue Danube’ and Bach.”

Directed and adapted by one of Europe’s most respected and visionary theatre and film directors, Peter Brook, and his long-term collaborators Marie- Hélène Estienne and Franck Krawczyk, The Suit is a music-filled and poignant tale of marital betrayal and resentment with an intimate glimpse of life in apartheid-era South Africa. Written by South African novelist Can Themba, this exquisite work, created in the Paris-based Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, features innovative staging that integrates live musicians among actors.

Performances will take place at 8 pm. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased online at . The production runs 75 minutes, with no intermission. OZ is located at 6172 Cockrill Bend Circle in Nashville.

Daniel Canodoce ‘Can’ Themba (1924–1968) was a South African short-story writer. He was born in Marabastad, near Pretoria, but wrote most of his work in Sophiatown, Johannesburg, South Africa, before it was destroyed under the provisions of the apartheid Group Areas Act. He was a student at Fort Hare University College where he received an English degree (first-class) and a teacher’s diploma. After moving to Sophiatown, he tried his hand at short story writing and entered Drum magazine’s first short story contest, which he won. Drum was a magazine for urban Black people concentrating mainly on investigative journalism. He subsequently worked for Drum, where he became one of the ‘Drum Boys,’ together with Henry Nxumalo, Bloke Modisane, Todd Matshikiza and Casey Motsisi. Lewis Nkosi and Nat Nakasa later joined them. This group lived by the dictum: ‘Live fast, die young and have a good-looking corpse.’ Part of Drum’s ethos was investigative journalism. One of the aims was to show the realities and inequities of apartheid. In 1966, he was declared a ‘statutory communist,’ as a result of which his works were banned in South Africa. His literary output was only readily available in the 1980s with the publication of two collections The Will to Die (1972) and The World of Can Themba (1985).