Why Scottish play HeLa is a must watch

Feb 12, 2014, 11:20 IST | Soma Das

To mark its 15th anniversary, Quasar Theatre Productions (QTP) is bringing down the award-winning Scottish play, HeLa, on a three-city tour. The play deals with issues of medical ethics and the need for equality

In 1951, Henrietta Lacks walked into the coloured section of the John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, US, complaining of abdominal pain. A sample of her cell was taken without permission and used for conducting scientific studies. It led to discoveries that rocked the medical world but Lacks didn’t benefit in any way; she died in penury unable to afford medical care.

Scene from the solo act play

The story was depicted in the book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, and turned into a play in 2013, titled HeLa, directed by Graham Eatough . The one-woman act was performed by actor Adura Onashile and is significant for highlighting topics pertaining to genetic identity and ethical debates about human tissue research and ownership.
It is being brought to India by QTP in association with the British Council for a multi-city tour (Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru) to mark QTP’s anniversary.

HeLa is based on the true story of Henrietta Lacks whose cell was used for research without permission

Speaking about the play, Quasar Thakore Padamsee, Artistic Director, QTP, says, “Normally, when a theatre company celebrates an anniversary, it involves a retrospective look at their productions. Rather than looking backwards, we thought it would be interesting to look forward.”

HeLa was showcased at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year to packed houses. It was nominated for Fringe Awards and won the Flying Artichoke Award.

Padamsee believes that the play is extremely relevant: “Accountability for actions has been lacking in India for generations. It’s important to learn from stories such as these. In recent times, ethical practices have been compromised for profit or progress.”

As part of their celebrations, QTP is also looking to open up new performance venues and are doing a run of all their existing shows.

From: February 15 to 17
At: Sitara Studios, Lower Parel.

Also check out...

The fourth Create Trophy for Artistic Excellence will feature 30 NGOs participating in the talent competition for children. The event is held to honour Pearl Padamsee.

On: February 19, 5 pm to 7 pm;
At: YB Chavan Auditorium, Nariman Point.

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