Entertainment & Culture

You Know We Belong Together: breaking down stereotypes around Down’s syndrome

This August, the Southbank Centre in London will be showcasing You Know We Belong Together, an award-winning play from Australia about living with Down’s syndrome and challenging stereotypes of the disability.

Following sold-out seasons in the 2018 Perth Festival and Black Swan’s 2019 season, You Know We Belong Together brings its celebrated portrayal of living with Down’s syndrome to the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room from Thursday 18th to Saturday 20th August 2022 for its UK Premiere.

Julia Hales leads a cast of six Western Australian actors to draw on their lived experiences and tell this joyful celebration of community spirit, calling for better representation of disability on screen and stage.

Get half-price tickets for the show NOW – 50% off for Disability Horizons’ readers – use the promo code TOGETHER10 when booking.

Julia Hales – actor, writer and lead character

- Actress Julia Hales wearing glasses, blue jeans and a blue top with small flowers on a black and white chequer board stage in We Know We Belong Together with her name in silver letters on a black screen behind her

Actor and writer Julia Hales, who has Down’s syndrome, plays a version of herself in the show. She co-created the play with Finn O’Branagáin and Clare Watson to show the world what people with Down’s syndrome are really like.

She said: “I want people to see us for who we are and what we do as part of the world…. This is a story for us, by us.”

Part-play, part-live documentary, Julia explains that You Know We Belong Together “is about acceptance, belonging, it’s also about love and romance. It’s about my life and how I grew up with Down’s syndrome.”

She brings with her the voices and aspirations of a community rarely seen on stage. “You hardly ever get to see people with disabilities on screen. I’m trying to get everyone out there so the public can see that yes, we do have a disability, but we can do acting as wells.

I want the whole world to know that we are part of this world and we should be accepted. [People] only see a Down’s syndrome person but they don’t see what I have to go through,” says Julia.

You Know We Belong Together

Actress Julia Hales and Tina Fielding in We Know We Belong Together about Down's syndrome

You Know We Belong Together is an uplifting show about love, loss, family, friendships and the frustrations and aspirations of living with Down’s syndrome.

Both Julia the actress and the character have 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’s syndrome in the cast.

She dreamt 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’s syndrome.

The cast put their own lives on stage, mixing their experiences and personal day-to-day realities with monologues, video, scenes, dance and songs.

Set in the famous diner at Summer Bay regularly seen in Home and Away, the cast brings their talents to help Julia “make a show to help remind non-disabled people that people with Down’s syndrome are complex and emotional people, like them. That they also have regular desires like love and acceptance.

Cast of We Know We Belong Together, who all have Down's syndrome. on stage in a cafe setting with Julia Hales, the main character, in standing in the middle. There are four tables and two chairs at each. The background is black and there is a black and white chequered floorWe all belong – people with different kinds of disabilities and families and friends, we all belong in the one world” says Julia Hales.

Praise for You Know We Belong Together

★★★★★ – ArtsHub
“Julia’s passion shines through in a collaborative work that is…clever, poignant and funny.”

★★★★ – The West Australian
“A shared, joyous experience of the rarest kind.”

You Know We Belong Together runs at the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room from Thursday 18th to Saturday 20th August 2022. You can book tickets via the Southbank Centre website.

Tickets are normally £20, but we’re offering Disability Horizons’ readers £10 tickets – use the promo code TOGETHER10 when booking.

Accessibility at Southbank Centre and the show

The Southbank Centre welcomes everyone and we are working hard to remove all barriers.

All ticket offices, toilets, performance and exhibition spaces at the Southbank Centre are accessible to all, as are the cafes, bars and restaurants across the site. We have excellent public transport links with step-free access.

Purcell Room is located in Queen Elizabeth Hall. For step-free access please use the Royal Festival Hall JCB glass lift to Level 2 and enter via Riverside Terrace.

Talk to a member of staff at the auditorium entrance if you have a disability that means you can’t queue, or you need extra time to take your seat. They can arrange priority entry for you as soon as the doors open.

All performances of You Know We Belong Together are British Sign Language interpreted (BSL).

Audio description is available during the performance on Friday 19th August. To use this service, please let a member of the team know when you arrive so that we can organise a headset for you.

Actress Julia Hales and Patrick Carter in We Know We Belong Together about Down's syndromeA Touch Tour is available before the 7.30pm performance on Friday 19th August. The tour begins at 6.15pm. There is no need to book separately – just show your ticket when you arrive.

The performance on Saturday 20the August at 2.30pm is Speech-to-Text transcribed (STT).

To book tickets for these services, call our Ticket Office on 020 3879 9555 or email accesslist@southbankcentre.co.uk.

You can join our FREE Access Scheme through your online Southbank Centre account or via email.

Find out more about our Access Scheme and the Southbank Centre’s accessibility overall on our website.

By Southbank Centre

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