Henrietta Lacks

Anna Smolar

Henrietta Lacks? I don’t know her. It’s a typical answer.

Premiere: 23.04.2017 Play duration: 1 hour

Henrietta Lacks? I don’t know her. It’s a typical answer.

Premiere: 23.04.2017 Play duration: 1 hour

An anonymous hero or a victim of medicine? A black woman used for research or maybe a terminally ill patient whose cells were taken for scientific experiments, and which proved to be the first capable of immortal effort?

Baltimore, 1951. 31-year-old Henrietta had cancer of the uterus. She did not know that her cells had been taken. She did not learn about HeLa cells. Her five orphaned children did not get any support, but disloyal doctors gained a lot of symbolic and/or material capital. This is a melodrama worthy of a Hollywood movie. But wouldn’t it be better to look at the story of Henrietta Lacks from the perspective of the common good and consider the issue of cell ownership? Would the progress of science have been possible if we had the right to demand financial compensation for the use of our tissues? Would it result in a pricelist for cells? What would be the price of healthy and cancerous ones? Which would be more valuable? We may have doubts about the democratic nature of medicine. Who makes money from it? Who uses it? Meanwhile, somewhere out there our cells are routinely collected during tests and then lead a life of their own. Do you miss them?

In cooperation with


Guest cast

  • Marta Malikowska
  • Maciej Pesta
  • Sonia Roszczuk


  • Direction: Anna Smolar
  • Script: Anna Smolar, Marta Malikowska, Maciej Pesta, Sonia Roszczuk, Jan Sobolewski
  • Dramaturgy Consultation: Piotr Gruszczyński
  • Set Design, Costumes: Anna Met
  • Music: Natalia Fiedorczuk-Cieślak
  • Coproduction: Centrum Nauki Kopernik


  • 6-7 October 2022 Sirenos Festival, Wilnius
  • 15-16 February 2022 Festival de Liège, Belgium
  • 18-19 February 2022 Théâtre National Wallonie-Bruxelles, Belgium
  • 19-20 October 2019 Musée des Confluences, Festival Sens Interdits, Lyon, France
  • 15-16 October 2019 Centre Dramatique National d'Orléans / Centre-Val de Loire, Orlean, France
  • 10-11 October 2019 La Biennale / Arts vivants / International du 24 septembre au 12 octobre 2019, Toulouse, France
  • 1 June 2018 XXIV Międzynarodowym Festiwalu Sztuk Przyjemnych i Nieprzyjemnych, Łódź
  • 28 May 2018 53. Przegląd Teatrów Małych Form Kontrapunkt, Szczecin
  • 10 December 2017 10. Międzynarodowy Festiwal Teatralny Boska Komedia, Kraków
  • 21 October 2017 Festiwal Dramaturgii Współczesnej, Zabrze
  • 14 October 2017 Konfrontacje Teatralne, Lublin
  • 28-30 June, 1 July 2017 Open'er Festival, Gdynia
  • 18 May 2017 57. Kaliskie Spotkania Teatralne

See also

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