Olney Theatre Stages ‘Sleepova’ – Hit Coming-of-Age Play on Black Teens

Olney Theatre to stage U.S. premiere of award-winning "Sleepova" in 2025, exploring friendship and self-discovery of four Black British teens through Ibini's acclaimed coming-of-age story.

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Nigerian-British Playwright Wins Award for "Sleepova," Hits Olney Theatre Stage
Copyright © Helen Murray 2023

Olney Theatre Center (OTC) in its 2025 season will feature the highly acclaimed coming-of-age play “Sleepova” by Nigerian-British playwright and screenwriter Matilda Feyisayo Ibini. The fringe hit from London will make its U.S. premiere in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab in March/April 2025.

“Sleepova” invites audiences into the lives of four Black British teenagers – Elle, Shan, Funmi, and Rey – during their sleepover parties. As they navigate the unique challenges of disability, sexuality, religion, and family, the young women’s friendships are put to the test in a complex dance of adolescent bravado and intimate honesty.

The play is set in a Roman-style conversation room, with a central performing area carpeted in a pale green color.

“Sleepova” has garnered widespread critical acclaim, winning the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Affiliate Theatre and the Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright for Ibini.

Critics have praised “Sleepova” as “an exhilarating tableau of imperfect young friendship” (The Guardian) and “a joyous, exuberant show you can’t help but fall in love with” (The Evening Standard). Time Out London hailed it as “a good time” that audiences wouldn’t want to miss.

The play is described as a “frank, funny and moving coming-of-age story” that serves as an “ode to black women, their boundless spirits and wild dreams.”

Founded in 1938 as a summer playhouse, Olney Theatre Center has evolved into a year-round professional theater dedicated to producing world and American premieres, reimagining familiar titles, touring nationally and locally, and nurturing the next generation of theater artists through education programs.

Over the years, Olney Theatre Center has hosted many famous actors and performers, including Helen Hayes, Tallulah Bankhead, and Sir Ian McKellen.

In 2013, the theater underwent a strategic shift under new Artistic Director Jason Loewith and Managing Director Debbie Ellinghaus, broadening its programming to include more diverse voices and audiences.

By bringing “Sleepova” to American audiences, Olney Theatre continues its commitment to showcasing diverse voices and stories that resonate with audiences of all backgrounds.

The play captures the universal experiences of friendship, self-discovery, and coming-of-age in a fresh and authentic way that will undoubtedly resonate with audiences of all ages.

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