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Bernice Bobs Her Hair

By Ariana Stone

Bernice Bobs Her Hair Poster

In November, the Department of Performing Arts presented the first-ever reading of the play Bernice Bobs Her Hair as part of its New Works Series. The readings took place on November 19 at 8 p.m., November 20 at 8 p.m., and November 21 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the Studio Theater in Katzen Arts Center.

A Mean Girls set in the years before women's suffrage, Bernice Bobs Her Hair is adapted from the story by F. Scott Fitzgerald and letters that the author wrote his sister. The play tells the story of Bernice, plain, country girl who visits popular, gorgeous Marjorie in the big city. When Marjorie gives Bernice a makeover, inside and out, she isn't prepared for Bernice's newfound social success, especially when Marjorie's love interest notices Bernice's new and improved persona.    

The musical score is composed by Adam Gwon, with book and lyrics by Julia Jordan. Gwon was named one of "50 to Watch" by the Dramatist magazine and recently composed the score for the acclaimed off-Broadway play Ordinary Days. His work has been performed at the Kennedy Center, York Theatre, and Pennsylvania Center Stage, among others, and he has won numerous commissions for his composing. Jordan, a professor of playwriting at Barnard College, has written plays and musicals alike, including Tatjana in Color, Dark Yellow, and The Mice. She has received numerous honors, including the Lucille Lortel Playwriting Fellowship, the Manhattan Theater Fellowship, and the Juilliard Playwriting Fellowship.

"We are fortunate to work with Adam and Julia on this project," says Carl Menninger, director of both the AU performance and the New Works Series, and performing arts professor. "This is a great opportunity for our students and AU. It also gives the writers an opportunity to put the work on its feet. This is the mission of the New Works program – to support playwrights and composers in the development of plays and musicals."

Readings are minimally-staged and actors use their scripts. Admission to New Works Series events is $5.