Jocelyn Bioh's School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play opens its U.K. premiere at Lyric Hammersmith June 14, following the beginning of previews June 8. The comedy is scheduled to run through July 15.
Set in 1986, School Girls takes place in Ghana's preeminent Aburi Girls Boarding School as its pupils wait for the arrival of a recruiter for the Miss Ghana pageant. As the school's ruling queen bee, Paulina and her hive-minded friends fully believe it's Paulina's to lose. But then new transfer student Ericka arrives with a threatening level of talent and beauty, and upends the status quo. Who will be chosen? And what will it cost?
Starring are Tara Tijani as Paulina Sarpong, Anna Shaffer as Ericka Boafo, Heather Agyepong as Ama, Bola Akeju as Mercy, Deborah Alli as Eloise Amponsah, Francesca Amewudah-Rivers as Gifty, Jadesola Odunjo as Nana, and Alison A Addo as Headmistress Francis.
Monique Touko directs the production which features set design by Paul Wills, costume design by Kinnetia Isidore, lighting design by Matt Haskins, sound design by Tony Gayle, music by Shiloh Coke, movement by Aline David, and wigs, hair, and make-up design by Cynthia De La Rosa. Julia Horan serves as casting director.
Playwright Bioh said, “School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play is a love letter to young Black girls. I wanted to highlight all that is beautiful and special about us and our place in this world. This play celebrates our humor, joy, heartbreaks, and the deep journey I went on to owning my beauty. I never imagined that I would have an opportunity to share this play with an audience outside of New York City, so I am beyond thrilled to make my U.K. playwriting debut at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre. This is such a dream come true; and that I get to work with such an incredible director, cast, and design team is the cherry on top of the most delicious theatrical cake!”
Director Touko added, “I visited Aburi School for Girls, the school that inspired Jocelyn, on a trip to Ghana at the beginning of the year, and I was reminded of how important the story of and representation in School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play is. The play is a comedy with universal appeal and explores the vulnerable, tender moments of teenagehood. These nuanced and jubilant portrayals of Black women aren’t seen on stage or screen enough. We have a stellar cast and creative team bringing this message to London, and I’m so excited to work with the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre for the show’s U.K. premiere.”
The production will also hold special performances and community affinity events including Black Out Night June 19 as well as For the Culture Lates with a live DJ June 30 and July 7.
MCC Theater first produced School Girls in 2017, followed by a return engagement in 2018.