HeLa by Jessie Salsbury – at Knox College

Peibulu Koroye was amazing playing the multiple women characters in my one act play – Henrietta Lacks, her daughter, the researcher and the medical assistant. She is a first year student, and I was honored that she chose to be a part of my play. After the play we hugged each other and I started crying – completely out of the blue. It was surreal how proud I am of her. I was watching her and I honestly wondered if I was going to pass out – my vision went blurry on the outside. It is absolutely strange to see someone take words you’ve written at home, typed out and fussed over in a workshop with friends, and watch an actress take those words and create different characters from them.

I did my best to enjoy it and not critique my writing. I listened for parts where the audience was not understanding or where they would’ve gotten bored with rustling in their seats or moving around, but I didn’t hear anything in particular. It was surreal, to sit in the studio theatre where I had hung lights, completed set designs, painted sets, spent most of my four years, and my first play put up in that space was nearly 20 years after I had graduated.No words. Awesome. It was surreal seeing it and watching other people watch it, and listening to other people talk about. I was floating out of my body. I watched Robin Metz half the time to see his reactions. Talked to Professor Robin Metz afterwards and I said “you saw my play!” He said he was happy to see it. I just can’t believe it.

I am honored to be a part of telling Henrietta Lacks’ story, and I am honored that a first year student was given a chance to shine in this role. I hope she is given many more opportunities to act if she chooses, as she’s proven that she can handle a difficult task with easy and conviction. I am extremely proud.

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