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Pliant Girls by Meghan Brown

Friday, February 19, 2021
Saturday, February 20, 2021
7:30 p.m. ET, $5

Directed by Ameenah Kaplan
Purchase Tickets

When 50 bloodied sisters strive to justify their actions following the wedding day murder of their arranged husbands-to-be, an intimate tale of freedom, sexual politics, and redemption unfolds.

At times heartbreaking and humorous, Meghan Brown's incisive look at contemporary sisterhood is further explored through the lens of the graphic novel aesthetic in this new production directed by AU guest artist Ameenah Kaplan. Kaplan is an actress and producer who appeared in the original Broadway cast of Stomp and on The Office and Grey’s Anatomy, and she is the resident director of Disney’s The Lion King.

Pliant Girls

Permission granted by the playwright. All inquiries concerning rights to the Play shall be addressed to the above or to

Director's Note

"Serendipitous would be the word I’d use to describe what the experience working on Pliant Girls has felt like. Few plays could capture this moment in time better. Pliant Girls puts the theme of gender right on the table at a time when the topic is barreling its way through our collective consciousness. What is gender? How does it affect individual lives? Does it really matter? 

As circumstance would have it, I ended up needing to cast all women in the show. Again, serendipity. This casting allowed me to dive deep into our conceptions of how we see the opposite gender. The Pliant Girls are telling their story back to us. In this sense, all the actors (including those playing men) are the sisters. They are giving us a recreation of the men in their lives, and what better way to gain insight into someone than to walk a mile in their shoes? The actors are not playing caricatures of what they think men are, but rather they are finding relatable motivations in the actions of the men. They are not affecting “male” voices or walking like “men”. They are instead tapping into each man’s humanity and tackling difficult subjects in the process. 

To support this approach and to make the show exciting for Zoom, I envisioned the sisters on a kind of Paradise Island full of women who grow up and grow strong via their close relationships with other women. They are superheroes in the making and the comic book aesthetic of the show is meant to augment this. Women supporting women is a big theme in the play. This, juxtaposed with the patriarchy that we all live in, is a worthwhile conversation to have. 

Lastly, a shout out. 

The fact that AU remained dedicated to theater during the pandemic is honorable, necessary, and shouldn’t go unnoticed. Thank you, AU, and your staff, for persevering through these difficult times."

-Ameenah Kaplan, Director


  • Voices: Heather Adams
  • Ariana: Claudia Combet
  • Courtney: Haleigh Diaz
  • Kay: Edmée Marie Faal
  • Marcus: Benedicta Hentsch
  • Kem: Daniella Ignacio
  • Leta: Julia Mann
  • Father: Fiona Murphey
  • Alexander: Ruby Osborne
  • Dean: Nikki Scamuffo
  • Claude: Natasha Sookrah
  • Philomena: Bekah Zornosa

Creative and Production Team

  • Director: Ameenah Kaplan
  • Assistant Director: Nia Mays
  • Graphic Designer: G.E. Burgtorf
  • Audio Consultant: Sharath Patel
  • Technical Coordinator and Stream Engineer: Erin Sullivan
  • Sound Design and Editing: Alli Pearson
  • Operations Managers: Lisa Barr, Greg Anderson
  • Technical Support: Wyatt BalaEddy, John Stahrr
  • Costume Coordinators: Barbara Tucker-Parker, Sydney Moore
  • Production & Events Coordinator: Mike Burgtorf
  • Patron Services & Events Coordinator: Sam Megill
  • Stage Manager: Valerie McFatter
  • Assistant Stage Managers: Emma Dorsch, Rose Hutchinson, Siena Maxell

Student Bios

Heather Adams (Voices) is a junior Musical Theatre major. Previous AU acting credits include The Birds (COVID cancelled, RIP), 12 Angry Jurors (Open Dialogue Theatre), and Old Friends (AU Quills and Capes). She's also been writing, directing, and mentoring peer playwrights through AU Quills and Capes, and stage managed Capstone 2019. She really really can't wait for the pandemic to be over. 

Claudia Combet (Arianna) is a freshman Theatre Performance Major from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Previous credits include Letters to Sala(Raizel) and The Diviners (Norma Henshaw) at Stagedoor Manor, as well as Bad Auditions by Bad Actors (Director) at Harriton High School. Acting in The Pliant Girls has been an amazing experience. Ameenah has challenged and supported us from the first rehearsal, and my fellow actors are so talented and committed to telling this very special story in an authentic way. 

Haleigh Diaz (Courtney) is a senior psychology major and criminal justice and theatre double minor from Los Angeles, CA. Her previous credits at AU include: Senior Capstone 2021: A Call for a New Federal Theatre Project (Ensemble), Carrie: the Musical (Assistant Stage Manager), AU Players’ Steel Magnolias (Stage Manager), AU Rude Mechanicals’ God of Carnage (Veronica), AU Players’ Raining Season (Stage Manager), and Overture 2017 (Ensemble). Special thanks to Ameenah for being such an amazing director and teacher!

Emma Rose Dorsch (Assistant Stage Manager) is a Junior double majoring in Public Relations and Strategic Communications and Musical Theatre from Bala Cynwyd, PA. A big thank you to Val, her fearless leader and friend, Ameenah, Nia, and the whole cast and production team for putting together this great virtual production!

Edmée-Marie Faal (Kay) is a senior Theatre Performance major and a Literature/Religious studies minor from Gambia and Washington D.C. Previous credits include Hamlet (Hamlet), God of Carnage (Alan), The Crucible (Tituba), The Wolves (#00), Significant Other (Vanessa), The Women (Mary Haines) at AU, as well as The Rover (Florinda) at the British American Drama Academy. This being my last performance at AU makes this experience particularly bittersweet, however, I couldn’t have asked for a more fulfilling experience. To be directed by two Black artists and to be a part of a cast full of people who identify as women is something I never thought I’d have the chance to say. What a wonderful way to end my four years at AU. Thank you to my family, my friends, and the professors who’ve shaped me into the artist I am today, I’m forever grateful.

Benedicta Hentsch(Marcus) is so thankful to be apart of The Pliant Girls cast! Benedicta is in her sophomore year as a Musical Theatre major and is double minoring in Creative Writing and Communications. She is Norwegian and Swiss and is currently in Geneva, Switzerland with her family. Benedicta is practically a pro at virtual shows, this is her third time already! She featured in the AU production of The Women in the fall, directed by Karl Kippola.

Rose Hutchinson (Assistant Stage Manager) is a senior International Relations major and Theatre Arts minor from Montvale NJ. Although she has had the privilege of performing in many productions, most recently playing the Lawyer in AU's production of Miss You Like Hell, The Pliant Girls marks her first foray into the world of stage management! Thank you to my wonderfully supportive friends and family for believing in me, as well as to Valarie McFatter and Ameenah Kaplan for showing me to ropes and allowing me to be a part of this fantastic and important production.

Daniella Ignacio (Kem) is a senior Musical Theatre and Journalism double major from Roseland, NJ. DPA: A Call For A New Federal Theatre Project (Ensemble), Miss You Like Hell (Assistant Music Director), The Boy Detective Fails (Ensemble), Shared Space (Khe Sanh Katie), The Government Inspector (Stage Manager), Othello (Ensemble), Overture 2017 (Ensemble). She’s worked regionally with Adventure Theatre MTC, Kennedy Center Page to Stage Festival, and Capital Fringe Festival. Upcoming: Man of God (u/s Kyung-Hwa, Samantha) at Strand Theater Company. Thanks to Ameenah, Nia, Valarie, and this wonderful cast, crew, and GreenKat team for such a special final DPA show.

Julia Mann (Leta) is a senior Musical Theatre major from Collegeville, PA. Previous credits include The Women (Jane), The Birds (Bird Chorus), The Government Inspector (Assistant Director/Swing), and Overture (Ensemble) at AU, as well as Peer Gynt (Narrator) at the British American Drama Academy. Julia is honored to be rounding out her time at AU with The Pliant Girls. 

Siena Maxwell (Assistant Stage Manager) is a sophomore theatre arts major/history minor from Kensington, MD. Previous credits include Pride and Prejudice (Lady Catherine de Bourgh), Richard III (Lady Anne), and The Picture of Dorian Gray (Lord Henry) with the AU Rude Mechanicals, and And Then There Were None: A Radio Play (Director/Editor/Adaptation by) independently. She is also currently working on Macbeth with the AU Rude Mechanicals as assistant director. She is very excited for you to see this really cool and relevant show!

Nia J. Mays (Assistant Director) is a third-year student from Long Island, New York pursuing degrees in Technical Theatre and Business Administration with a minor in Education at American University. Mays has served in several roles during their time in the AU theatre sphere. Roles include assistant production manager, stagehand, light board operator, soundboard operator, actor, and directorial assistant. Mays is also the co-founder of art collective and educational experience BlackList. BlackList highlights the voices of Black student artists and is dedicated to spreading knowledge about the roles of Black artists across the ages. Mays would like to thank Ameenah Kaplan for this amazing opportunity. Mays would also like to give a shout out to family and friends for their unconditional support and encouragement as Mays has continued to pursue their wildest dreams. Much Love; Keep Reaching!

Valarie McFatter (Stage Manager) is a senior Theater Arts and Business & Entertainment double major from Houston, TX. Previous AU credits: A Call for A New Federal Theater Project (Ensemble), Variety Show Hour (Stage Manager), A Doll’s House (Director), How to Succeed…(Stage Manager), Midsummer Night’s Dream (Stage Manager), Ghost Sonata (Stage Manager). Other credits include Knights of Salisbury (Stage Manager). Upcoming: Macbeth (Graphic Designer). She wants to thank Ameenah, Nia, her SM team, and GreenKat for the support and joy of this show. Enjoy Pliant Girls!

Fiona Rose Murphey(Father) is a junior Computer Science (Game Design) Major and Theatre Minor from Nashville, TN. Previous credits include How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Ensemble), The Boy Detective Fails (Assistant Stage Manager), and the Rude Mechanicals Annual Variety Show (Monologues/Sonnets) at AU. "See, the thing that makes women strong is that we have the guts to be vulnerable. We have the ability to feel the depths of our emotion and know that we will walk through it to the other side." -Cat Grant, Supergirl. Two years into theatre and I remain wonder-struck. My theatre family: Y'all amaze me every day. Thanks to my supportive families: in TX and Nashville, my DC D&D family, my Mom, and most of all my little sister, Elle — light of my life. I love you all.

Ruby Osborne (Alexander) is a freshman theatre major who is so excited to be in her first mainstage show at AU! She is originally from Louisville, Kentucky, and has been acting for over 8 years! Some of her favorite past roles include Charlotte from Pride and Prejudice, Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, and Queen Elizabeth from Richard III. One of her favorite Shakespearen quotes/insults is “I do desire we may be better strangers” -As You Like It. She would like to thank Ameenah, Nia, Valarie, and everyone in the cast and crew for being such kind and lovely people!

Allison Pearson (Sound Designer) is a sophomore Audio Technology major and a theater minor from Johnstown, PA. Previous credits include The Boy Detective Fails (Mic Tech).

Nikki Scamuffo (Dean) is a senior Musical Theatre major with Business & Entertainment and Entrepreneurship minors. She lives in New York City. Credits include Lucy in The Women (American University), Grusha in The Government Inspector (American University), Emma Goldman in Assassins (American University), Velma Kelly in Chicago (The Wilton Playshop) and Sally Bowles in Cabaret (Westchester Sandbox Theatre). She thanks her family and friends for their endless love and support, and of course she thanks this amazing cast and crew for adding so much joy to her life during such challenging times.

Natasha Sookrah (Claude) is a junior Musical Theatre major and Business and Entertainment minor from Schenectady, NY. Some recent credits include The Women (Ensemble), The Boy Detective Fails (Ensemble), and Superstar! (Diana) at AU. Natasha is very grateful to have been part of such a fun and inspiring journey with such a talented cast and crew! Thank you to Ameenah for being such an incredible director and mentor and thank you to the cast and crew for making the Pliant Girls an unforgettable experience!

Bekah Zornosa (Philomena) is a junior Musical Theatre/Public Relations and Strategic Communication major from Hollywood, FL. Previous AU credits include: Miss You Like Hell (Beatriz), The Boy Detective Fails (Violet Dew), How to Succeed… (Smitty), and Carrie (Helen). She’s worked regionally with Adventure Theatre MTC and Rorschach Theatre. Upcoming: Madagascar: The Musical Adventure (Maurice) at Adventure Theatre, and Alone In The Crowd (Assistant Director) at AU. Thank you to Ameenah, Nia, cast, and crew for always making me laugh.

Collaborator Bios

Meghan Brown (Playwright) writes plays about dangerous women. Her work has been produced or developed at Lincoln Center, Victory Gardens Theater, Portland Center Stage, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Getty Villa. Full-length plays include The Tasters (Milwaukee Rep 2021, Rivendell Theater 2019), The Pliant Girls (Fugitive Kind, winner of the 2014 Ovation Award for Playwriting for an Original Play), The Kill-or-Dies (Electric Footlights in association with Moving Arts, Max K. Lerner fellowship winner), What Happened While Hero Was Dead (developed with Moving Arts' MADlab, Great Plains Theater Conference 2021), and Shine Darkly, Illyria (Fugitive Kind). Meghan wrote the lyrics for the song cycle Untuned Ears Hear Nothing but Discord (Lincoln Center, as part of In Need of Music: The Songs of Ben Toth) and the libretto for improvised social justice opera The Discord Altar (OperaWorks). Current projects include raging rock musical These Girls Have Demons with Pittsburgh CLO (music by Sarah Taylor Ellis) and wild west hypertheater play (with music!) (and PUPPETS) Cowboy Elektra with Rogue Artists Ensemble (songs by Z. Lupetin). She is a member of the 2020-2021 Geffen Writers' Room. For more information, visit Meghan Brown's website.

G.E. Burgtorf (graphic designer) is a local freelance artist, illustrator, and sculptor who has contributed to the Baltimore/Washington Theatre Community since 2009 with designs for prop and costumes. His work has been featured in productions by such companies as Adventure Theatre MTC, Journeyman Theatre, and African Continuum Theatre. G.E. has worked as Assistant Prop Master with the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, College Park and as a youth instructor with Howard County Recreation and Parks, teaching youths the art of sequential art (comic books). An alum of the University of Maryland, College Park with a BA in Theatre, he is ecstatic to be able to contribute with his graphic designs to the Department of Performing Arts’ virtual programming.

AAU Film School for Directing. NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for acting. Resident Director for Disney’s The Lion King North American Tour. Other: ABC’s Encore!, The Wiz at First Stage, Our Country’s Good at American Players, Meet Vera Stark at Purdue U., How to Break at Village Theatre, The Royale at ACT, Bash’d at Celebration Theatre. Shorts: Man with a Movie Camera and The American Failure. Choreography: The Royale at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, The Dancing Granny at the Alliance Theatre, ABC’s Encore! and Dancing with the Stars. Gregory, Ovation, Sherwood, Queen of Angels, NAACP and LA Weekly awards for choreography, fight choreography, and directing.

Sharath Patel (audio consultant) Without power or Internet for too many days.