School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play

School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play

School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play

By Jocelyn Bioh
Directed by Awoye Timpo
Main Season · Roda Theatre
March 19–May 3, 2020

Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission

“Modeling. That’s the plan after I graduate you know. Become the next Iman. College is cute, but I’m thinking about my future realistically.”

Paulina, the reigning queen bee at Ghana’s most exclusive boarding school, has her sights set on the Miss Universe pageant and the glamorous life that’s sure to follow. But her plans and even her very reputation are shaken up when Ericka, a new student who’s strikingly beautiful and talented, captures the attention of the pageant recruiter—and Paulina’s hive-minded friends.

Winner of the 2018 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play and the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award, School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play is a biting comedy that tackles the universal issues of beauty and self-worth that face teenage girls across the globe.

An important note regarding health and content advisories:
Berkeley Rep offers an advisory about any stage effect of potential concern to patrons’ health. This show has none. We don’t offer unsolicited content advisories as sensitivities vary from person to person. If you have concerns about content or themes, we are happy to provide details. Please call our box office at 510 647–2949 or email

Season sponsors

BARTPeet’s CoffeeWells Fargo

Performances canceled

Berkeley Rep canceled all performances of School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play.

School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play calendar

Creative team

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Jocelyn Bioh · Playwright

Jocelyn is a first-generation Ghanaian-American writer/performer from New York City. Jocelyn is a commissioned playwright with Manhattan Theatre Club, Second Stage, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and the Atlantic Theater Company, and was a Tow Playwriting Fellow in 2018/19. Her plays include the multi-award-winning School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play, which had two celebrated runs at MCC Theater and is also playing at the Goodman Theatre this spring; Nollywood Dreams (Powerhouse Theater at Vassar College, 2016; upcoming at MCC Theater this spring; Kilroy’s List 2015); and the new musical Goddess (Powerhouse Theater at Vassar College, 2019) of which she is the book writer. She has her BA in English and Theatre from The Ohio State University and MFA in Theatre-Playwriting from Columbia University School of the Arts.

Awoye Timpo · Director

Awoye’s off-Broadway directing credits include In Old Age (New York Theatre Workshop), Good Grief (Vineyard Theatre), The Revolving Cycles Truly and Steadily Roll’d (The Playwrights Realm), and The Homecoming Queen (Atlantic Theater Company). Regionally she has directed Pipeline at the Studio Theatre, Everybody Black at Actors Theatre of Louisville, and Paradise Blue at Long Wharf Theatre. Additional credits include Carnaval at the National Black Theatre, Sister Son/Ji at the Billie Holiday Theatre, The Vanished (site-specific), Skeleton Crew at Chester Theatre Company, and Ndebele Funeral at 59E59 Theaters, Edinburgh Festival/Summerhall, and the South African tour. She is the producer of CLASSIX, a series exploring classic plays by Black playwrights.

Jason Ardizzone-West · Scenic Design

Jason is happy to be making his Berkeley Rep debut. Recent work includes Jesus Christ Superstar Live (NBC—Emmy Award & Art Directors Guild Nomination), The Michaels (The Public Theater), Blue Man Group (national tour), Uncle Vanya (Old Globe, Hunter Theater Project, WNET 13 TV), Once on This Island (Cincinnati Playhouse and Actors Theatre of Louisville), Native Gardens and The Royale (Cleveland Play House), Good Grief (Vineyard Theatre), Dermot Kennedy (EU/UK/U.S. concert tour). Upcoming projects include Bliss (5th Avenue Theatre), The Bluest Eye (Huntington Theatre), Macbeth (Geffen Playhouse), Grace (Actors Theatre of Louisville). Instagram: @jasonardizzonewest

Karen Perry · Costume Design

Off Broadway: runboyrun and In Old Age (New York Theatre Workshop). Regional: Breath, Boom (Huntington Theatre); Lackawanna Blues (Mark Taper Forum, Two River Theater Company); Mothers (Playwrights Realm); Jazz (Marin Theatre Company); Black Superhero Magic Mama (Geffen Playhouse); Fun Home (Baltimore Center Stage); Steel Magnolias, Hair, Dreamgirls (Dallas Theater Center); Oklahoma! (Houston Ballet at TUTS); Cinderella (Eglevsky Ballet Company); Danai Gurira’s Familiar (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Guthrie Theater, Seattle Repertory Theatre); Cabin in the Sky (Encores!); Blues for an Alabama Sky (Pasadena Playhouse); Crowns, Stop-Reset, Trinity River Trilogy (Goodman Theatre, STC, Dallas Theater Center/Arena Stage); The Trip to Bountiful, The Fall of Heaven (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park); The Brother/Sister Plays (The Public Theater/McCarter Theatre); Having Our Say (McCarter Theatre); A Time to Kill, Resurrection (Arena Stage); Oo-Bla-De (Two River); and Sunset Baby and The Lion in Winter (Guthrie). She has designed nine of the 10 August Wilson Century Series plays (she has not yet designed Fences). Television: Gregory Hines Show, Saturday Night Live, and The Brother from Another Planet. Karen received a Lucille Lortel Award, LA Ovations Awards, a CDG Award, an Ace Award, a Hewitt Award, and is an Emmy and Audelco Award nominee and recipient.

Stacey Derosier · Lighting Design

Credits include Stew (Page 73); Copper Children (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Men on Boats (Baltimore Center Stage); for all the women who thought they were Mad (Soho Rep); White Noise conceived by Daniel Fish (NYU Skirball); the bandaged place (NYSAF Powerhouse); Playing Hot! (Pipeline Theatre Company); The Climb (Cherry Lane Theatre-Mentor Project); Mies Julie and Dance of Death (Classic Stage Company); Novenas for a Lost Hospital, No One Is Forgotten, Lewiston/Clarkston (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater); The Revolving Cycles Truly and Steadily Roll’d (Playwrights Realm). Stacey was the 2018 Lilly Award recipient of the Daryl Roth Prize.

Jake Rodriguez · Sound Design

Jake is a sound designer and composer based in the San Francisco Bay Area who last worked with Berkeley Rep on Angels in America. His regional credits include An Octoroon and the world premieres of X’s and O’s (A Football Love Story), Girlfriend, and Passing Strange at Berkeley Rep; The Christians at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Playwrights Horizons, and the Mark Taper Forum; Between Two Knees at Oregon Shakespeare Festival; The Great Leap and A Thousand Splendid Suns at American Conservatory Theater; Everybody at California Shakespeare Theater; the world premiere and revival of Oedipus el Rey at Magic Theatre; and Woman Laughing Alone with Salad at Shotgun Players. Jake is the recipient of a 2004 Princess Grace Award.

Megan Ellis · Hair & Wig Design

Megan is a wig designer and makeup artist from New York City. Growing up watching her mother do her hair and makeup every morning for work is what started her passion. She’s worked with many celebrities on films, TV, and theatre, including Black Super Hero Magic Mama at Geffen Playhouse and the film BlacKkKlansman.

Amy Potozkin, CSA · Casting

Amy begins her 30th season with Berkeley Rep. Through the years she has also had the pleasure of casting plays for ACT (Seattle), Arizona Theatre Company, Aurora Theatre Company, B Street Theatre, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Dallas Theater Center, Marin Theatre Company, the Marsh, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Social Impact Productions Inc., and Traveling Jewish Theatre. She worked on various independent films, including Conceiving Ada, starring Tilda Swinton; The 8th Year of the Emergency by Maureen Towey; Haiku Tunnel and Love & Taxes, both by Josh Kornbluth; and Beyond Redemption by Britta Sjogren. Amy received her MFA from Brandeis University, where she was also an artist in residence. She has been an audition coach to hundreds of actors and a presentation/communication coach to many businesspeople. She taught acting at Mills College and audition technique at Berkeley Rep’s School of Theatre, and has led workshops at numerous other venues in the Bay Area. Amy is a member of CSA, the Casting Society of America, and received an Artios Award for Excellence in Casting for Angels in America.

Tara Rubin Casting, CSA · Casting

Tara Rubin Casting’s select Broadway credits include Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of The Temptations, King Kong, The Band’s Visit, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, Prince of Broadway, Bandstand, Indecent, Sunset Boulevard, Miss Saigon, Dear Evan Hansen, A Bronx Tale The Musical, Cats, Falsettos, Disaster!, School of Rock, Gigi, Bullets Over Broadway, Aladdin, Les Misérables, The Heiress, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Billy Elliot: The Musical, Shrek The Musical, Young Frankenstein, Mary Poppins, Spamalot, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Producers, Mamma Mia!, Jersey Boys, and The Phantom of the Opera. Their Off Broadway credits include Gloria: A Life; Smokey Joe’s Cafe; Clueless, The Musical; The Band’s Visit; Here Lies Love; and Love, Loss, and What I Wore. They have also cast regionally for McCarter Theatre Center, Yale Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Paper Mill Playhouse, The Old Globe, and more.

Michael Suenkel · Production Stage Manager

Michael began his association with Berkeley Rep as the stage management intern for the 1984–85 season and is now in his 26th season as production stage manager. He has also worked with the Huntington Theatre (Boston), The Public Theater and New Victory Theatre (New York), La Jolla Playhouse, Yale Repertory Theatre, and many others. Internationally he has stage managed shows in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Among his favorite Berkeley Rep productions are Angels in America, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, Eurydice, Endgame, The Beaux’ Stratagem, and Mad Forest.

Leslie M. Radin · Assistant Stage Manager

Leslie is very pleased to be back at Berkeley Rep after most recently stage managing The Good Book, Fairview, An Octoroon, Aubergine, and Head of Passes. She started at Berkeley Rep as the stage management intern in 2003 and has also worked at American Conservatory Theater, Aurora Theatre Company, California Shakespeare Theater, Center Repertory Company, and Santa Cruz Shakespeare. She has traveled with Berkeley Rep productions to the Hong Kong Arts Festival and the New Victory Theater in New York. Her favorite past productions include Angels in America, Aubergine, Wittenberg, Sisters Matsumoto, The Great Leap, In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), Passing Strange, and The Lieutenant of Inishmore.

Additional credits

Jessica Berman · Dialect Coach
Samuel Nkansah · Ghanaian Dialect Coach
Joanna Haigood · Movement Coach
Dave Maier · Fight Consultant
Tiffany Austin · Vocal Coach


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Afua Busia · Ama

Afua is a New York-based actor and singer from Maryland. Afua has previously appeared in Berkeley Rep’s An Octoroon and is thrilled to be returning! Other regional credits include A Christmas Carol (American Conservatory Theater) and The Little Mermaid (Imagination Stage). Afua is a recent graduate of ACT’s MFA program, class of 2019. IG: afuab

Afua Busia

Santoya Fields · Eloise

Santoya is excited to be making her debut at Berkeley Rep. Regional productions include Men on Boats (American Conservatory Theater), Black Odyssey (California Shakespeare Theater), A Streetcar Named Desire (African American Shakespeare Company), and in the West Coast premiere of James Ijames’ White (Shotgun Players). For her performance in White, Santoya was nominated for two theatre awards for Outstanding Principal Actor. Santoya is from St. Petersburg, FL.

Santoya Fields

Omozé Idehenre · Headmistress Francis

Omozé’s film and TV credits include On the Road and This Is Us. Off-Broadway credits: The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui (Classic Stage Company). Other theatre credits include What You Are (Old Globe San Diego); Her Portmanteau (Boston Court Pasadena); Good Grief (Kirk Douglas Theatre); runboyrun (Magic Theatre); Gem of the Ocean, The Convert, Seven Guitars (Marin Theatre Company); The Comedy of Errors and Richard III (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Black Odyssey, The Winter’s Tale, Spunk, Macbeth (California Shakespeare Theater); Clybourne Park, Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Scorched, A Doll’s House, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (American Conservatory Theater). Education: American Conservatory Theater and The Groundlings. She is grateful to be part of this gifted cast and crew.

Omozé Idehenre

Paige Mayes · Gifty

Paige is thrilled to make her official Berkeley Rep debut after understudying Misha in White Noise. Her most recent regional credits include Single Black Female (Lorraine Hansberry Theatre), Vinegar Tom (Shotgun Players), Jazz (Marin Theatre Company), The 48 Hour Play Festival (Harlem 9), and For Colored Girls… (African American Shakespeare Company), where she was nominated for Outstanding Ensemble of a Play and Outstanding Performer in a Featured Role in a Play. Paige is from Aurora, CO and studied Performing Arts at Arizona State University.

Paige Mayes

Gabriella Momah · Nana

Gabby (they/them) is a nonbinary actor whose mission is to amplify the voices of queer and trans people of color through storytelling. They are excited to make their mainstage debut at Berkeley Rep. Regional theatre credits include Watch Me (The Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep), Top Girls (American Conservatory Theater), Cardboard Piano (New Conservatory Theatre), A Letter to My Ex (Spectrum Queer Media), They/Them (Those Women Productions), Token and Shipping and Handling (Crowded Fire Theater: Matchbox Series), FLEX (Bay Area Playwrights Festival), Can I Hold You, The Color Purple, The Bluest Eye (Stanford TAPS), and numerous productions with Killing My Lobster, Bay Area Children’s Theatre, and the National Queer Arts Festival. Gabby has trained at Stanford University, San Francisco Mime Troupe, and The Actors Space.

Gabriella Momah

Al-nisa Petty · Mercy

Al-nisa is an actor and voice-over artist from Newark, New Jersey. She is thrilled to be making her Berkeley Rep debut. Regional: A Raisin in the Sun directed by Nambi E. Kelley (TheatreWorks Colorado Springs) and Slut: The Play (New Jersey Performing Arts Center). Select New York credits include On Strivers Row (Metropolitan Playhouse), Masque (Ensemble Studio Theatre), and Street Scene (Brave New World Repertory Theatre). Her film credits include independent films Darling and Strive. Al-nisa received her BFA in Acting from Rutgers University where she also studied at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. @alniisa

Al-nisa Petty

Lily Santiago · Ericka

Lily is delighted to be at Berkeley Rep for the first time. She has appeared off Broadway as Claudio/Elbow in Measure for Measure (The Public Theater), Macduff in Macbeth (Red Bull Theater), and previously in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s production of Othello. Regional credits include Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (Huntington Theatre Company) and Emmy in A Doll’s House, Part 2 (George Street Playhouse). She is a proud graduate of Northwestern University (BA in theatre) and LaGuardia Performing Arts HS.

Lily Santiago

Akilah A. Walker · Paulina

Akilah is a classically trained actor and filmmaker who is moved by transformation, collaboration, and nuanced storytelling that explores the lives of women and people of color. Akilah is elated to be making her Berkeley Rep debut. Akilah also recently appeared at Aurora Theatre Company as Bunny in Detroit ‹67 and was nominated for Best Supporting Actress by the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle. Originally from Atlanta, GA, Akilah is a recent graduate of American Conservatory Theater, where she received her MFA, and is also a proud alumnus of Fordham University. Selected roles: Lady M in Macbeth, Gremio in Taming of the Shrew, and Lincoln in Topdog/Underdog. IG/Twitter: @Akthewayy

Akilah A. Walker

The actors and stage managers are members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Watch now

Behind the scenes: Talkback with Awoye Timpo

Enjoy a virtual talkback with Awoye Timpo, the director of Jocelyn Bioh’s School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play and Nailah Harper-Malveaux, Berkeley Rep’s directing fellow and the show’s assistant director.

Behind the scenes: School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play

Playwright Jocelyn Bioh, director Awoye Timpo, and some of the actors share their thoughts about the play, along with a behind the scenes look at rehearsals and the production.

Listen up

REPISODES: The Berkeley Rep Podcast presents a series of conversations with artists and experts around the shows in Johanna Pfaelzer’s inaugural season. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or SoundCloud to keep up with the whole series.

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  • Friday, March 20, 2020

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