Announcing “A Pound of Flesh”: New play tackles slavery, reparations, and the ethics of live organ donation

Directly following this year’s Bioethics Research Showcase reception, a cast of Georgetown students, alumni, and friends will perform a stage reading of “A Pound of Flesh,” a new play by Katie L. Watson of Chicago’s Second City.

The play concerns living liver donation–a risky surgery–between a young white woman (the potential donor) and a young black woman (the potential recipient). While transplant ethics sit naturally at the forefront of the script, questions of what we owe one another and of the reality and role of reparative justice also arise due to the two women sharing a common ancestor: a great, great grandfather who was a slave owner.

These issues intersect with the ongoing conversation at Georgetown about the University’s slave-owning history, and joins its multi-dimensional roster of efforts and on-campus conversations grappling with the issues of slavery, memory, and reconciliation. According to event organizer Laura Bishop, this connection to the ongoing conversation at Georgetown is one of the most meaningful aspects of this unique event.

The play will be directed by Anita Maynard-Losh, Director of Community Engagement at DC’s Arena Stage. Following the reading, a group of panelists will lead an open-ended, interactive conversation on the artistic, sociocultural, historical, medical, and ethical dimensions of the play.

Speakers will include playwright Watson who, in addition to teaching creative writing and improv at Second City, is also faculty at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the Senior Staff Attorney on the Women’s and Reproductive Rights Project for the ACLU of Illinois. She will be joined by Robert M. Veatch, a Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and Professor Emeritus of Medical Ethics at Georgetown, an expert on ethical, historical, and policy issues around organ donation, allocation, and transplantation, as well as representatives from Georgetown’s Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation Working Group and the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute.

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Special thanks to Natsu Onoda Power, Associate Professor and Artistic Director of the Davis Performing Arts Center, Department of Theater and Performing Arts, Georgetown University and Toby D. Clark, Technical Advisor, Department of Theater and Performing Arts, Georgetown University, for their role in advising and consulting regarding this performance.