Marking International Women's Day 2023 with the remarkable story of Henrietta Lacks.

Wed 8 Mar marks International Women’s Day 2023. A day to focus on celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness about discrimination, and taking action to drive gender parity.

On Fri 10 Mar, the brand-new powerful drama Family Tree takes to the Blegrade’s B2 stage after weeks of rehearsal to share the remarkable story of Henrietta Lacks. For International Women’s Day this year, we want to bring Henrietta’s incredible story to the forefront.

Henrietta Lacks was a black woman whose cancer cells are the source of the HeLa cell line, the very first immortal human cell line and one of the most important cell lines in medical research. Henrietta was the unwitting source of these cells from a tumor biopsied during treatment for cervical cancer in Baltimore U.S. in 1951.

Neither Henrietta Lacks nor her family gave her physicians permission to harvest her cells. Doctors initially attributed the scientific miracle to a made-up woman named ‘Helen Lane’ in an attempt to conceal Henrietta’s true identity. It wasn’t until many years later that the truth was revealed.


  1. The eradication of Polio
  2. The progression of Genetic Research
  3. Cancer research and treatment
  4. Medications for HIV and AIDS
  5. Vital research for COVID-19 vaccines
  6. The study of Tuberculosis
  7. The effects of X-Rays
  8. Used to determine how Salmonella causes infections
  9. Henrietta’s cells have been sent into space and used to investigate the effects of space travel and radiation on human cells
  10. Her cells were fused with a mouse to create the first human-animal hybrids

Matthew Xia, Director of Family Tree tells us more about Henrietta Lacks and how she inspired Family Tree.

Actors Touring Company, The Belgrade Theatre, in association with Brixton House has come together with an incredible cast and crew to present Family Tree.

Family Tree is a powerful drama about race, health, the environment, and the incredible legacy of Henrietta Lacks written by Mojisola Adebayo and featuring a cast of talented women. Fearlessly honest, hilarious, and ultimately transformative, this award-winning play is both a remembrance and a celebration. Denied her place in history, now is the time for Henrietta’s legacy to undergo a transformation… to blossom and grow into something new and wonderful.

Family Tree opens on the Belgrade’s B2 stage Fri 10 – Sat 18 Mar. Join us as we celebrate Henrietta and all the women throughout history and today who have been denied their place in the history books. #EmbraceEquity this International Womens Day.

Weds 15 Mar – We invite audiences of Family Tree to continue learning and exploring these themes, by staying behind after the show for a panel discussion about ‘medicine, ethics, and Black bodies’ followed by a short Q&A.