Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Md., launches its 2019-20 season next month with Jocelyn Bioh’s “School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play,” directed by Nicole Watson.
Roundhouse will present the play Sept. 18-Oct. 13.
The award-winning comedy, fresh off two sold-out, extended off-Broadway runs, is about a group of schoolgirls vying for the title of Miss Ghana 1986.
Inspired in part by the real-world controversy surrounding the 2011 Miss Universe Ghana pageant — won by a fair-skinned, American-born woman — the play is an exploration of colorism and teenage ambition.
Watson said the play is not what some people might expect from a story set in Africa.
“It’s not a poverty story or a white savior story. It’s a hilarious comedy about being a teenager, and that’s the fun of it,” Watson said. “After all, who doesn’t remember the ‘mean girls’ at their own school, or the experience of trying to fit into a group while also figuring out how to be an individual? But this comedy is also complicated and rich, and I’m excited for audiences to dig a little deeper into the politics that are being highlighted. ‘School Girls’ is about young women at an all-girls school in Ghana, but it’s also about how Western beauty standards — which are miles and miles away from them — are reaching out to affect young women everywhere.”
The all-female cast includes Moriamo Temidayo Akibu, Shirine Babb, Debora Crabbe, Theresa Cunningham, Kashayna Johnson and others. They will be joined by an all-female creative team of dialect coach Kim James Bey, dramaturg Gabrielle Hoyt, scenic designer and Round House Theatre resident artist Paige Hathaway.
Tickets may be purchased by calling 240-644-1100, ordering online at RoundHouseTheatre.org, or in person at the box office. Round House Theatre is located at 4545 East-West Highway, one block from Wisconsin Avenue and the Bethesda station on Metro’s Red Line.