School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls’ Play (Round House Theatre-Bethesda): SEPT 18-OCT 20

Pretty, popular H.S. senior, Paulina (Kashayna Johnson), longs to become Miss Ghana 1988; she’ll do whatever it takes to win the crown. Suddenly, there is a new student at the Aburi Girls Boarding School, Ericka (Claire Saunders), who arrives from America w/ dresses from Macy’s and the latest beauty products. With humorous lines, deep insight, and timeless themes, Jocelyn Bioh’s award-winning comedy (sold out last year off-Broadway) reveals much about all of us, not just teenage girls.

The teen girls are the focus of the story. Paulina is the “queen bee” who takes charge of her peers, yet carries deep insecurities. Ama (Awa Sal Secka) is a very smart senior looking forward to college w/ a serious boyfriend. All the girls are part of a choir; some ’80s music is featured in the play. Cousins Mercy (Debra Crabbe) and Gifty (Moriamo Temidayo Akibu) provide moments of humor. Mercy’s father is a doctor, but very careful w/ money; the girls want new clothes and shoes. Nana (Jade Jones) is the girl w/ a heart of gold who (eventually) finds a way to stand up for herself. Her stepmother put her on a strict diet, disapproving of her weight.

The adults in the story are former classmates- Headmistress Francis (Theresa Cunningham)- a motherly, no-nonsense woman and self-serving, elegant Miss Ghana 1968- Eloise Amponsah (Shirine Babb, a theater veteran). The headmistress wears traditional clothes, incl. headwraps; Miss Amponsah wears high heels and Western skirt suits. Though all her girls are excited re: the beauty pageant, Headmistress Francis insists that education comes first. Only one girl will be chosen to represent this school- everyone is sure it will be Paulina.

Acceptance, standards of beauty, colorism (experienced outside Africa as well), and pains of growing up are the main themes of this play. It starts out like a broad comedy, then you get to know the girls, and realize just how layered their lives are (as we find in real life). This play is being put on by a team of all women- how rare! Also, Round House Bethesda was renovated recently (w/ a upper level of seats); check it out for yourself if in the DMV area. I went to see this play on one of the PWYC nights and really enjoyed it!

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Oscars 2016 Fashion

Mandatory Credit: Photo by David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock (5599371dv) Kerry Washington 88th Annual Academy Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, America - 28 Feb 2016
Mandatory Credit: Photo by David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock (5599371dv)
Kerry Washington
88th Annual Academy Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, America – 28 Feb 2016

Kerry Washington

The star of ABC’s hit Scandal was one of the FEW high profile black actresses who didn’t boycott the Oscars this year (#OscarsSoWhite); however, at least one fashion critic said that this gown may actually be a sort of protest (noting that the leather top reminds the viewer of Beyonce’s Formation performance at the recent Super Bowl).  We know that a woman w/ Kerry’s figure and confidence can wear almost anything and pull it off, BUT this dress is NOT quite worthy of the red carpet.

 

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Rachel McAdams

Hmmm… I LOVE this color, but the Spotlight actress’ gown comes off as too skimpy (on the sides) and simple for the Oscars.  And that train could’ve been hazardous! 

 

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Cate Blanchett

We know that the star of Carol ALWAYS has interesting gowns (made by Armani), BUT the color is too light (for her complexion).  A few style experts commented that there is a BIT too much going on- feathers made into flowers AND the sparkly beading.  I thought it looked good from afar. 

 

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Rooney Mara

I liked the intricate leaf detail on this gown, BUT that’s about it.  The exposed stomach and the lower half of the dress are NOT working for her; but, the Carol actress is still young.  

 

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Charlotte Rampling

The 45 Years actress (who hails from England) was recently in the press for her controversial comments re: the lack of diversity at the Academy Awards.  However, you can’t deny her talent and beauty (though NOT conventional for Hollywood standards).  Rampling is tall, wiry, and has the type of face that commands attention (often rivaling her male co-stars).  You can see her in the 2nd season of UK series Broadchurch (now available on Netflix).  She recently turned 70, and this simple/conservative gown suited her well (esp. in close-up).

 

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Charlize Theron

I LOVED what one fashion expert said of this simple gown: “This is a case where fitness trumps fashion.”  It seems TOO simple for the Oscars, but the now 40 y.o. statuesque actress can wear anything and look fierce (as we saw in Mad Max: Fury Road).   

 

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Jennifer Lawrence

This is a GREAT dress- I esp. love the top!  Jennifer’s film Joy may NOT have been seen by a very wide audience, BUT this dress is spot on for the Oscars.

 

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Brie Larson

Everything about this gown is PERFECT- the cut, color, and embellishments!  Plus, she won Best Actress- the best accessory!

 

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Mindy Kaling

I saw this dress on Mindy’s Instagram, and it looked elegant.  One the red carpet, it comes off as too plain.  I like her simple hairdo and the makeup is great (as usual).  I LOVE how Mindy has created opportunities for herself in Hollywood- she’s obviously a hard worker and funny lady, BUT this is TOO serious of a gown.

 

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Priyanka Chopra

The star of ABC’s Quantico was the MOST Googled celeb of the night- WOW!  This dress looks FAB on the Indian actress; it reminded me of Halle Berry (back when she was a red carpet darling).  Recently, I reviewed Priyanka’s latest Bollywood film, Bajirao Mastani.

 

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Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

Did you know this director now has 2 Oscars (for A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015) and Saving Face (2012)!?  I need to see these docs still.  Sharmeen is wearing a simple dress w/ a long, intricate jacket over it (she is Pakistani); at formal desi events all over the world, you will find styles similar to this one.  Her Oscar is the perfect accessory!

Tips to Appear Taller (For Fellow Petite Gals)

  1. Nude Booties (close to your skin tone) &/or Pointed Toe Shoes (ANY color)
  2. Horizontal Stripes (tops or pants)
  3. Wear hair up (longer hair) or cut hair short (EX: any type of bob).
  4. Maxi Dress (preferably in ONE color w/ a slit to show some of your leg)
  5. High-waisted & wide-legged pants (preferably w/ heels)
  6. Dress in ONE color (monochromatic).
  7. Wear a choker (EX: modern/sleek style; sitting on your collarbone)- this will draw the eyes up to your face.
  8. Wear dresses & skirts which are above the knees (stay in your comfort zone- don’t have to wear a miniskirt).