Nashville Rep makes history with ‘School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play’ Feb. 10-20

Pictured Kortney Ballenger, Tosha Marie, Carli Hardon, Ashley D. Brooks, Joy Pointe, and Valicia Browne. Photo by Jonathan Snorten.

Nashville Repertory Theatre presents Jocelyn Bioh’s award-winning Off-Broadway play School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play playing Feb. 10 -20 in TPAC’s Andrew Johnson Theater. Named “the most important play off-Broadway” by Essence Magazine and an “uproarious comedy that also pulls at the heartstrings” by the Hollywood Reporter, this buoyant and biting comedy explores the universal similarities (and glaring differences) facing teenage girls across the globe.  It will be the first time in the Rep’s 37-year history that a play will have a cast of all Black women and a creative team made up entirely of people of color.

“We are thrilled to be presenting the Nashville premiere of this exciting contemporary piece. Jocelyn Bioh’s play is ferociously funny, but it also has a lot to say about western standards of beauty and the struggles teen girls face,” said Drew Ogle, Executive Director of Nashville Rep.

School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play follows Paulina, the reigning queen bee at Ghana’s most exclusive boarding school, who has her sights set on the Miss Global Universe pageant. But the arrival of Ericka, a new student with undeniable talent and beauty, captures the attention of the pageant recruiter—and Paulina’s hive-minded friends.

“When presented with the opportunity to direct School Girls, there was no way I could say no,” says director Alicia Haymer, making her Nash Rep directorial debut.  “Making history in my hometown with a cast of all Black women, and a BIPOC crew was a no brainer to me- especially if I want diversity to be the rule, and not the exception. I also believe it’s important for audiences to experience a world outside of themselves; that’s how we grow. Although School Girls focuses on these specific students in a specific decade, I believe it touches on topics we can all relate to. If you’ve ever felt like you didn’t belong, that you weren’t good enough, or that you didn’t have enough, this story is for you. If audiences leave with a different perspective, then we’ve all done our jobs.”

The cast is led by Joy Pointe as Paulina and her rival Ericka played by Tosha Marie. The rest of the cast includes Carli Hardon, Kortney Ballenger, Tamiko Robinson Steele, and Valicia Browne, Ashley D. Brooks, and Cynthia C. Harris making their Nashville Rep debuts.

The creative team for School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play include debuts by Nashville designers, including sets by Josafath Reynoso, costumes by Skyler Glaser, and lighting by Rachael N. Blackwell. Production team includes stage management by  Nikkita Staggs, props by Abigail Nichol, dialect coaching by Jacqueline Springfield, and mental health support provided by Crystal Owens of Red Cedar Psychotherapy.

For ticket and showtime information, visit

Following School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play, Nashville Rep will close their 2021-2022 Season with Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins running from April 28 to May 10, 2022.

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