‘School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play’ by Jocelyn Bioh ’08 to Premiere at London's Lyric Hammersmith Theatre

Anastasia Ellis
May 16, 2023

School Girls: Or, The African Mean Girls Play by Playwriting alumna Jocelyn Bioh ’08 will make its U.K. premiere at London's Lyric Hammersmith Theatre in summer 2023. Performances begin June 8, with the official opening scheduled for June 14 and closing set for July 15.  

Bioh’s School Girls won the 2018 Lortel Award for Best Play, was nominated for three Drama Desk Awards, and was a New York Times Critic’s Pick. The play follows a group of girls at Ghana’s most exclusive boarding school as they are influenced by the presence of a recruiter for the Miss Universe pageant. Paulina, the school’s reigning queen bee, has her sights set on the pageant before Ericka, a new student, steps in and catches the recruiter’s eye. 

School Girls explores colorism in the Black community, in addition to the challenges of bullying and personal insecurities that face teenage girls around the world. Bioh expressed, in a 2019 interview, that it was important that she tell this story with Black women in mind—particularly because the points of view of Black women are still infrequently explored in theatre. The London production will be directed by Monique Touko. 

Jocelyn Bioh is a Ghanaian-American writer and performer from New York City. School Girls: Or, The African Mean Girls Play completed successful runs at the MCC Theater and Center Theatre Group between 2017-2018. Bioh also conceived and wrote the libretto for The Ladykiller’s Love Story (music/lyrics by Cee Lo Green), which is in development at New York’s historic Apollo Theatre. Other plays include: Happiness and Joe, Nollywood Dreams and African Americans. Bioh has collaborated often with Directing alumnus Saheem Ali ’07, including on the new musical Goddess and Merry Wives, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, for the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park. She has received commissions from Manhattan Theatre Club and the Atlantic Theater Company, and she was a Resident Playwright at LCT3. Bioh staffed season two of Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It for Netflix and wrote an episode of the Netflix show Russian Doll