Photo Flash: First Look at SCHOOL GIRLS; OR THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY at Pittsburgh Public Theater
Pittsburgh Public Theater continues its 45th anniversary season with the Pittsburgh premiere of School Girls; Or The African Mean Girls Play. A smash hit Off-Broadway last year, the play was written by Jocelyn Bioh, a first generation American whose parents emigrated from Ghana in West Africa. Directed by Kenyan native Shariffa Ali, School Girls runs November 7 - December 8, 2019 at the O'Reilly Theater, Pittsburgh Public Theater's home in the heart of Downtown's Cultural District. For tickets call 412.316.1600, go to ppt.org, or visit the Box Office.
School Girls is set in 1986 at a boarding school in Ghana. It's a normal day of chatter and cattiness in the cafeteria for beautiful bully Paulina (Markia Nicole Smith) and Ama (Ezioma Asonye), Gifty (Shakara Wright), Mercy (Candace Boahene), and Nana (Atiauna Grant). Then Headmistress Francis (Shinnerrie Jackson) makes a surprising announcement: A recruiter for the Miss Ghana pageant (Melessie Clark as Eloise) is about to pay a visit and one of them may get a chance to represent their country at Miss Global Universe. All agree it should be Paulina (especially Paulina). But things go sideways for the queen bee when a new student, Erika (Aidaa Peerzada), enrolls. Not only is she pretty, but she has a light complexion. Relevant and relatable, School Girls explores the impact that beauty standards have on young women across the globe.
"The way Jocelyn Bioh has taken this form and re-imagined it for a modern audience is a mark of genius," said The Public's Artistic Director Marya Sea Kaminski. "School Girls has all the delicious trappings you'd hope for - a popular girl who reigns supreme, a new girl struggling to find her place, beauty tricks out of magazines, and puffy prom dresses. Jocelyn has set this incredible comedy in Africa, proving that teenagers are the same everywhere, but also reminding us how varied the world can be."
The design team for School Girls is Ryan Howell (Scenic), Sarita Fellows (Costumes), Jasmine Lesane (Lighting), Angela Baughman (Sound). Nancy McNulty (Dialect Coach), Geoff Josselson (Casting), Fred Noel (Production Stage Manager), and Taylor K. Meszaros (Assistant Stage Manager).
Jocelyn Bioh is a Ghanaian-American writer and performer from New York City. Her acclaimed School Girls; Or The African Mean Girls Play received the 2018 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play. Other plays include Nollywood Dreams and African Americans. Jocelyn conceived and wrote the libretto for The Ladykiller's Love Story (music and lyrics by CeeLo Green) and Goddess (book writer). She has also been a staff writer for the Netflix TV shows "Russian Doll" and Spike Lee's "She's Gotta Have It." As an actress, Jocelyn's credits include: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Broadway), In the Blood and Everybody (Signature Theatre), Men on Boats (Clubbed Thumb at Playwrights Horizons), An Octoroon (Soho Rep), Booty Candy (Wilma Theater), Seed (Classical Theatre of Harlem), and Marcus; Or The Secret of Sweet (City Theatre in Pittsburgh). She also originated the role of Topsy in the world premiere of Neighbors (The Public Theater). Film/TV acting credits include: Ben is Back with Julia Roberts, "Russian Doll" and "The Characters" (Netflix), "Blue Bloods" (CBS), "The Detour" (TBS), "Louie" (FX), and "One Life to Live" (ABC). Jocelyn received her MFA in Theatre/Playwriting from Columbia University.
For tickets contact 412.316.1600, ppt.org, or The O'Reilly Box Office.
Photo Credit: Michael Henninger
Markia Nicole Smith
Shakara Wright, Atiauna Grant & Candace Boahene
Shakara Wright, Candace Boahene & Markia Nicole Smith
Aidaa Peerzada & Shinnerrie Jackson
Candace Boahene, Shakara Wright, Aidaa Peerzada & Atiauna Grant
Candace Boahene, Shakara Wright & Aidaa Peerzada
Markia Nicole Smith
Candace Boahene & Shakara Wright
Candace Boahene, Atiuana Grant, Markia Nicole Smith & Shakara Wright