Hostile Takeover/Just Business

This three-hander satire on black economic empowerment, was my first play produced by the Market Theatre and was my first play on the Main Programme of the National Arts Festival where it premiered in 2005. I subsequently reworked the script, and it was staged with its new title, Just Business, at Artscape in 2012.

Mr Green owns a strip-club.  In fact, he owns three.  He’s a businessman.  A very successful businessman.  So successful that he’s the target for a takeover by former MP, Johnny Mabuso.  Mabuso’s now a black empowerment player.  He’s backed by a Chinese consortium.  Mr Green’s not keen on black economic empowerment.  Broad-based or otherwise.  He runs a club selling broads.  That’s good enough for him.

Enter Nkosi. Nkosi runs a removals company. One that specialises in the removal of people from society. Permanently. He’s been hired to facilitate a hostile takeover of Mr Green’s company.

Two businesses on the edge of the legal framework collide in this fast-paced thriller, a biting satire on economic power and black economic empowerment in contemporary South Africa.

The play is a satire on the South African economy and particularly the practice of black economic empowerment. The title refers both to everyday economic jargon and the manner in which a particular entrepreneur intends to take over a company he desires.


After the success of Green Man Flashing at the 2003 National Arts Festival, I was inspired to submit another work to the PANSA Festival of Reading of New Writing that was the spring board for Green Man Flashing the previous year.

I completed the first draft of Hostile Takeover in three weeks to make it by the PANSA deadline for submissions. However, after some murmurings the previous year about a possible “hometown decision “ given my then-status as PANSA General Secretary, I submitted Hostile Takeover into the PANSA competition under a pseudonym, Peter September.

The two organisers of the Festival were only informed of the real identity of the writer on the first morning of the Festival, and the judges were only informed after they had made their final decisions on the last day of the Festival. By that time, Hostile Takeover had been selected as one of the five finalists for participation in the Festival, and was also selected as the Jury Runner-Up.

The process allayed my insecurities about my writing abilities as the script had been recognized in its own right without any personal reference. It also affirmed the PANSA process, as two writers from outside of Cape Town – Kobus Moolman with Full Circle and the completely unknown Peter September who hadn’t even attended the festival – had been made the Jury and Jury Runner-Up winners respectively.

After the relative success of Green Man Flashing at the Market Theatre, Malcolm Purkey expressed interest in my follow up work, which was Hostile Takeover. The Market Theatre entered this work for the Main Programme of the Standard Bank National Arts Festival in 2005, and it was produced there for the first time under the direction of Purkey. It subsequently had a run in the Barney Simon Theatre at the Market Theatre.

Production Details

First production
Main Festival Programme, National Arts Festival, 3-5 July 2005
Producers –
National Arts Festival and the Market Theatre
Director – Malcolm Purkey, Artistic Director of the Market Theatre


  • Martin le Maitre as Mr Green
  • Lindelani Buthelezi as Nkosi
  • Mpho Molepo as Johnny Mabuso.


  • National Arts Festival 3-5 July 2005
  • Market Theatre 12 July-14 August 2005

What the Critics Said

“Mike van Graan has shown he is able to follow Green Man Flashing. He is developing a clear and distinct voice – cerebral, witty and Apollonian. Hostile Takeover is an entertaining and tense debate about what really matters.”

- Dawn Kennedy, Cape Times

“…intelligent and witty script….speaks of a larger political climate in South Africa and the impact that individuals experience on a personal and moral level, and the degeneration of this.”

- Nadine Botha, Mail and Guardian

“Few playwrights see the outrageous comedy of official South Africa the way Mike van Graan does. His vision in Hostile Takeover is as free of cant, political correctness and piety as teeth that have had plaque scraped off. This itself lends much of the charge of the work – its rarity….By speaking out, he creates spaces for others to follow suit.”

- Robert Greig, Sunday Independent Arts Editor


Jury Runner Up, PANSA Festival of Reading of New Writing, November 2004

Availability of script

The script is currently being developed, and is not available for distribution.