Leading the cast is Tina Benko (Irena's Vow, Top Girls) in a story inspired by the the real-life landmark case involving the Havasupai Tribe of the Grand Canyon and Arizona State University, in which scientists used their blood samples to investigate areas other than what was approved.
Presented by Primary Stages and Ensemble Studio Theatre, Informed Consent follows scientist Jillian, played by Benko, on her study of an unusually high diabetes rate among a tribe of Native Americans. As in the real-life case, her research opens up the possibility of major discoveries in other areas such as cancer, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s; however, these have not been approved by the tribe, for which blood is sacred.
The play explores many of the challenges facing scientists today, namely, the intersection of science and religion, as well as the blurred ethical lines of genetic research. As part of her research, Laufer spent time in a genetics lab extracting DNA from cells and also traveled to the Grand Canyon.
"I hope that the play represents both the scientist and the tribe members who took part in the study with depth – real, multifaceted people with personal concerns outside these issues, that informed what they brought to this case," said Laufer in a press statement.
Liesl Tommy directs a cast that also features Pun Bandhu, Jesse J. Perez, DeLanna Studi and Myra Lucretia Taylor. The production features scenic design by Wilson Chin, costume design by Jacob A. Climer, lighting design by Matthew Richards, original music and sound design by Broken Chord, projection design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew and casting by Stephanie Klapper Casting.