Nashville Repertory Theatre rehearses first play to feature an all-Black cast

Nashville Repertory Theater rehearsing first play to feature all-Black cast, all people of color as crew
Posted at 8:52 PM, Feb 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 22:04:44-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Rehearsals are underway for a play-making history for local theater. Starting next week, the Nashville Repertory Theatre is putting on "School Girls" or the African Mean Girls Play.

It will be the first time in the Rep's 37-year history that a play will have an all-Black cast and a creative team made up entirely of people of color.

"I just love the idea of escaping, of storytelling," said Alicia Haymer, the show's director. "I was bitten, as they say."

"How are y'all?" she asked, walking over to her cast seeing the show's set for the first time. "What do you think about the set? Very beautiful, huh?"

"This play is about a high school in Ghana in 1986 where girls are competing for the Miss Ghana pageant," Haymer said. "There's classism. There's bullying. There are a lot of things Black women specifically face. Colorism. There are times they're made to feel not as beautiful because of the shade of their skin."

Haymer said these serious topics can be taken on with humor and with depth.

For her cast, this production is a chance to be around other women who share how casting processes have determined what kind of roles they can and can't get.

"I'm just like no one's going to see me for that, so why try?" said one actress during a short break, talking to the other actresses. "There are people who are so incredibly talented that are being overlooked."

"Just because of how they look" another actress chimed in.

"They should look at you and say, 'you should be the ingenue love type, y'know.'"

"Them being able to be on stage and work through some things that have affected them personally is very powerful," said Haymer.

Haymer's hope is a child will be in the audience, and this show will be the spark that makes them love theater.

"That would be amazing if young girls in the audience see there are people that look like me who can get on stage and tell meaningful, powerful stories," said Haymer.

"School Girls" or the African Mean Girls Play is running at TPAC's Andrew Johnson Theater from Feb. 10 through Feb. 20.