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Family Tree – a powerful and poetic new drama exploring race, health and the environment, coming to TRP in May

Family Tree 2000 x 770px

Press Contact: Chris Baker

29 March 2023

Family Tree

Family Tree, a powerful and poetic new drama exploring race, health and the environment will tour to Theatre Royal Plymouth in May, as part of a UK tour.

Inspired by the story of one of the most influential women of modern times, Henrietta Lacks, the show premiered at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry earlier this month.

The cast consists of Aminita Francis (Red Riding Hood, Liverpool EVERYMAN), Keziah Joseph (Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear, NATIONAL THEATRE), Mofetoluwa Akande (A Christmas Carol, BRISTOL OLD VIC), Aimée Powell (Nothello, BELGRADE THEATRE) and Alistair Hall (Safe, NORWICH THEATRE ROYAL).

This powerful and poetic drama, written by Mojisola Adebayo, explores race, health, the environment and the incredible legacy of one of the most influential Black women of modern times, Henrietta Lacks, whose influence on modern-day medicine still reverberates today.

Originally commissioned by ATC and the Young Vic Theatre in 2020, an outdoor work-in-progress piece was showcased at the 2021 Greenwich + Docklands International Festival. This brand new 2023 production opening at Theatre Royal Plymouth from 16–20 May 2023 will be the fully-realised stage play directed by Actors Touring Company’s award-winning Artistic Director Matthew Xia and is part of a 13 week National Tour taking in 12 venues until 17 June 2023.

Family Tree won the 2021 Alfred Fagon Award, the leading Black British Playwrighting prize, for best new play.

Director Matthew Xia, says: Mojisola Adebayo is an exceptional writer and I’m excited that her award-winning play will be seen by audiences far and wide. There’s a beauty in her work that responds so well to the present moment whilst also holding historical malpractice to account. It’s fearless, brutally honest, at turns hilarious, and ultimately transformative. 

“Henrietta’s HeLa cell line forms the basis of the most important medical research and breakthroughs across the last 70 years, from Cancer and HIV to COVID, we owe our lives to her. Denied her place in history, now is the time to bring Henrietta’s epic legacy to life on stage.”

Mojisola Adebayo adds: “When I met Matthew Xia, Henrietta Lacks came into our minds at exactly the same time. Xia is magic but Lacks is more, she’s immortal and her body has touched every life on the planet – yours, mine… So why have so few people heard of her? Let alone Lucy, Betsey, Anarcha and more… The play paints a family tree of Black women whose cells, blood and waters have birthed, raised and changed the world. Matthew said to me: “I want the audience to leave the theatre looking up”. I went away and wrote a play on a promise. Come see it.”

Family Tree is written by Mojisola Adebayo, presented by Actors Touring Company (ATC) and Belgrade Theatre Coventry in association with Brixton House Theatre.

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