Following sold-out seasons in the 2018 Perth Festival and Black Swan’s 2019 season, award-winning play You Know We Belong Together brings its celebrated portrayal of living with Down syndrome to the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room from Thursday 18 - Saturday 20 August for its UK Premiere. Julia Hales leads a cast of six Western Australian actors to draw on their lived experience and tell this joyful celebration of community spirit, calling for better representation of disability on screen and stage.
Julia Hales has watched every single episode of Australian soap opera Home and Away since it first aired in 1988, but she’s never seen another person with Down syndrome in the cast. She dreams of landing a role in her favourite show and finding love. Family, friends, dreams and lovers are all part of Julia Hales’ deeply personal account of her experiences as a daughter, actor and person with Down syndrome. She brings with her the voices and aspirations of a community rarely seen on stage. Part-play, part-live documentary, You Know We Belong Together is an uplifting show about love, loss, family, friendships and the frustrations and aspirations of living with Down syndrome.
The cast put their own lives on stage, mixing their experiences and personal day-to-day realities with monologues, video, scenes, dance and song. Julia Hales is joined on stage by Joshua Bott, Patrick Carter, Tina Fielding, Mark Junor, Melissa Junor and Lauren Marchbank. Set in the famous diner at Summer Bay regularly seen in Home and Away, the cast bring their talents to help Julia “make a show to help remind non-disabled people that people with Down syndrome are complex and emotional people, like them. That they also have regular desires like love and acceptance.”
Co-writer Finn O’Branagáin said:
“Some of the magic of You Know We Belong Together – sorry, the magic of Julia Hales - is that I have
been able to do all this with her – researching and conversing and piecing it together, with Julia as both
subject and performer. Having Julia as the lead artist has meant that at all times she’s in control of the documentation and presentation of her own story.”
Julia Hales began developing as a performing artist and writer in 1996, performing in a range of self-devised works with Australian theatre companies including DADAA, Hydrapoesis and pvi collective ltd. In 2016, Julia began researching what love meant to other people with Down syndrome and in 2017 received Australia Council support to research and co-write You Know We Belong Together.
Heather Ruck, Senior Performance Programmer at the Southbank Centre, says:
“We’re excited to be welcoming Julia Hales and the company of You Know We Belong Together to present the UK premiere of this unique and heartwarming play. It’s fantastic that this talented cast are bringing their work from Australia to the UK and we can’t wait to welcome audiences to the Southbank Centre to see this truly joyous show. We’d like to thank Black Swan State Theatre Company for their continued efforts and determination to help bring this show to the UK and to Edinburgh International Festival for jointly hosting the play.”