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World Premiere

HELA by Lauren Gunderson and Geetha Reddy

TheatreFirst, Berkeley, CA (2017)

HeLa evokes and explores the story of Henrietta Lacks, the African-American woman whose hard life and young death produced the most powerful line of immortal cells the world has ever seen. This lyrical theatrical mash up will explore the science, legacy, tragedy, poetry, and universal truths that one woman’s story and biology can offer the world.


"Sensitively directed

by Evren Odcikin, [HeLa has] poetic audacity, imagination, and wit."

Huffington Post

"The most riveting moments of Odcikin's direction are those when characters get to stretch out into full-fledged human beings. [...] In remembering Henrietta Lacks as more than just cells, HeLa posits that it's important that we name her, but also that stories and memories are part of waht allow her, or any of us, to become fully human. In doing so, the show proffers a subtle meta-theatrical tribute to the power of performance. Theater doesn't just tell us good stories; it testifies that we existed, and that we meant something."

San Francisco Chronicle

"Polished, clever direction by Evren Odcikin"


“Woven together seamlessly in director Evren Odcikin’s nicely nuanced staging” 

The Mercury News

"Odcikin moves his adept cast around the small stage with verve and efficiency. [...] There’s a cumulative power to this story that feels both intimate and epic, another chapter in our history of taking that tells an essential story that should keep being told." 

Theater Dogs

"Director Evren Odcikin fills the stage with a whirlwind of fast-paced scenes."



Akemi Okamura, Sarah Mitchell, Khary Moye, Richard Pallaziol, Desiree Rodgers, Jeunée Simon 

Creative Team

Ellen Boener (production stage manager), Bailey Hikawa (scenic design), Stephanie Anne Johnson (lighting design),  Devon LaBelle (props), Kevin Myrick (sound design), Salim Razawi (stage manager), Maggie Whittaker (costume design)

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