School is back in session! Goodman Theatre returns to the stage with the Chicago-premiere production of the Off-Broadway smash sensation, School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play. Full casting is below. Written by Jocelyn Bioh and directed by Chicago favorite Lili-Anne Brown, this “uproarious comedy that also pulls at the heartstrings” (The Hollywood Reporter) is back after being halted several days shy of its opening night last year (March 2020). The production was then offered in a limited online streaming engagement, viewed by households in 45 U.S. states and 13 countries around the globe—as well as offered free-of-charge to 1,600+ Chicago public school students. School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play appears July 30-August 29 (opening night is Monday, August 2) in the Goodman’s Albert Theatre. Capacity is limited and masks will be required. Tickets (starting at $15) are on sale now at GoodmanTheatre.org/SchoolGirls and by phone at 312.443.3800.
In acknowledgement of healthcare workers, whose efforts have cared for Chicagoans during the pandemic, as well as performing arts professionals, who may have lost work while stages were dark during this difficult time for the industry, the Goodman is pleased to offer 1,500 free tickets to School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play. Healthcare and performing arts industry professionals can reserve free tickets by visiting GoodmanTheatre.org/ThankYou.
Goodman Theatre is grateful for the support of JPMorgan Chase & Co., Major Corporate Sponsor; Illinois Tool Works and PwC LLP, Corporate Sponsor Partners; and Ogletree Deakins, Opening Night Sponsor.
"When I first read this play, I just died laughing. I could not believe how funny it was and where it went and how it ended," said Director Lili-Anne Brown. "We are so grateful and excited to get to revisit this story and finally share it with live audiences—and in the summer, where it truly belongs!"
Biting and buoyant, School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play earned critical and popular acclaim in its Off-Broadway extended run. As the reigning queen bee at Ghana’s most exclusive boarding school sets her sights on the Miss Universe pageant, a new student unexpectedly changes the game, forcing her to defend her reputation—and status. This “nasty-teen comedy, wonderfully refreshed and deepened” (The New York Times) spotlights the universal similarities—and glaring differences—of teenage girls around the globe.
“School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play enjoyed five successful previews before we had to suspend performances last March. We didn’t know then that it would be 506 days before the play would take the stage again, but we always knew that this play—in which comedy is infused with serious, relevant themes—would be the first we would produce upon our return,” said Goodman Theatre Artistic Director Robert Falls. “We warmly welcome back Lili-Anne and her wonderful company, and look forward to sharing Jocelyn’s wise, ebullient play with Chicago audiences anew.”
The ensemble cast features Adia Alli (Gifty), Kyrie Courter (Ericka Boafo), Ashley Crowe (Nana), Ciera Dawn (Paulina Sarpong), Tiffany Renee Johnson (Mercy), Adhana Reid (Ama), Tania Richard (Headmistress Francis) and Lanise Antoine Shelley (Eloise Amponsah). The creative team includes Yu Shibagaki (Set Design), Samantha C. Jones (Costume Design), Jason Lynch (Lighting Design) and Justin Ellington (Sound Design). Lauren Port is the Casting Director. Alden Vasquez is the Production Stage Manager and Caitlin Body is the Stage Manager. Katherine Lee Bourné, previously announced in the role of Ama, is no longer a part of the cast due to scheduling conflicts.
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT AND DIRECTOR
Jocelyn Bioh (Playwright) is a Ghanaian-American writer and performer from New York City. Bioh’s plays include School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play (2016 Kilroys List, MCC Theater, Center Theatre Group); The Ladykiller’s Love Story, Happiness and Joe, Nollywood Dreams (2015 Kilroys List, Cherry Lane Mentor Project) and African Americans (2011 Southern Rep Ruby Prize Finalist, 2012 O’Neill Center Semi-Finalist, Howard University). Bioh’s acting credits include work on Broadway as well as productions with Soho Rep, The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Classical Theater of Harlem, Wilma Theater and Signature Theater. Television writing credits include She’s Gotta Have It and Russian Doll.
Lili-Anne Brown (Director) is a native Chicagoan who works as a director, actor and educator. She has performed in, directed and produced many award-winning shows, both local and regional. Goodman credits include I Hate It Here and the world premiere of Ike Holter's Lottery Day. She is the former Artistic Director of Bailiwick Chicago, where she focused programming on Chicago-premiere musicals and new play development with resident playwrights. She is a member of SDC, AEA, SAG-AFTRA and is represented by William Morris Endeavor. lilbrownchicago.com
ACCESSIBILITY AT THE GOODMAN
Touch Tour, August 21 at 12:30pm – A presentation detailing the set, costume and character elements
Audio-Described Performance, August 21 at 2pm – The action/text is audibly enhanced for patrons via headset
ASL-Interpreted Performance, August 27 at 8pm – Professional ASL interpreter signs the action/text as played
Open-Captioned Performance, August 28 at 2pm – An LED sign presents dialogue in sync with the performance
Visit Goodman Theatre.org/Access for more information about Goodman Theatre’s accessibility efforts.
ABOUT THE GOODMAN
Chicago’s theater since 1925, Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit arts and community organization in the heart of the Loop, distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and community engagement.
Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics. Artists and productions have earned two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards and more than 160 Jeff Awards, among other accolades. The Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” It’s longtime annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, now in its fourth decade, has created a new generation of theatergoers in Chicago. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production and program partner with national and international companies and Chicago’s Off-Loop theaters.
Using the tools of the theatrical profession, the Goodman’s Education and Engagement programs aim to develop generations of citizens who understand the cultures and stories of diverse voices. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home to these programs, which are offered free of charge for Chicago youth—85% of whom come from underserved communities—schools and life-long learners.
As a cultural and community organization invested in quality, diversity and community, Goodman Theatre is committed to using the art of theater for a better Chicago. Goodman Theatre’s Action Plan for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism and Access (IDEAA) was born out of the belief that progress means action, which includes building on the decades-long commitment to using art, assets and resources to contribute to a more just, equitable and anti-racist society.
Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.
Today, Goodman Theatre leadership also includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Rebecca Gilman, Dael Orlandersmith, Henry Godinez, Steve Scott, Kimberly Senior, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. Jeff Hesse is Chairman of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Fran Del Boca is Women’s Board President and Megan McCarthy Hayes is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.