School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play
15 July 2023
4.0 out of 5.0 stars
Ghana 1986, a small boarding school is waiting with bated breath for the recruiters of the upcoming Miss Ghana pageant. Paulina, resident mean girl leader, pushes her group of followers to the brink while establishing herself as the top contender for the prestigious award, hoping to change the world by being a strong representative for her country. But when American transfer student Ericka shows up, all of Paulina’s goals are threatened by colourism and Western beauty standards.
Presenting itself as a comedy play, School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play delves deep into pre-conceptions and expectations for teenage girls all over the world, but specifically in a largely Black country that still upholds Western beauty standards of whiteness, putting pressure on any girls who do not fit those expectations. And while there are many laugh-out-loud moments, joy and finding one’s own place in the world, there are some dark subjects wrapped up in this all-female play as well.
Cloaked in sensibilities of the 80s, including harsh fatphobia and stringent standards of beauty for teenage girls, this play sets rivalries and insecurities as the central plot, drawing comparisons between the lived experiences of unattainable expectations on young girls all over the world.
The funny moments don’t completely wash out the message underlying the teen girl drama, bringing some much needed depth to the loud and ridiculous rivalries on stage. With a good dose of 80s glamour and deeply human flaws, it’s a powerful conversation starter that has more depth than it might lead you to believe at first. I very much enjoyed this show.