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Acclaimed Play 'You Know We Belong Together' Is Coming to the Sydney Opera House

Created by and starring Julia Hales, the hit production pairs a personal exploration of Down syndrome with 'Home and Away' dreams. 
By Sarah Ward
June 21, 2022
By Sarah Ward
June 21, 2022

Plays like You Know We Belong Together aren't a common sight on Australia's stages, and that's one of the reasons that it exists. Created by and starring actor and writer Julia Hales (ABC's The Upside), it features a cast performers exploring the daily reality of Down syndrome — and the fact that actors with Down syndrome are so rarely featured in Australia's cultural output.

The starting point is right there in the Sydney Opera House-bound production's name, which should've instantly gotten one particular song stuck in your head. You Know We Belong Together takes its moniker from the first words to Home and Away's theme tune, a soap opera that Hales has been a life-long fan of. Watching the show's Summer Bay-set antics, she also noticed the inescapable fact that she wasn't represented in its melodramatic antics.

"I want people to see us for who we are and what we do as part of the world," says Hales. "I watched every single episode of Australian soap opera Home and Away since it first aired in 1988, but I've never seen another person with Down syndrome in the cast."

"I used to dream of landing a role in it and finding love. So I created You Know We Belong Together. This is a story for us, by us." Hales continues.

You Know We Belong Together features Hales alongside six other Western Australian actors, all of whom draw upon their own lives and personal experiences with Down syndrome. The result combines monologues, video, scenes, dance and song, and also takes place on a replica of Home and Away's diner — allowing Hales to live her Home and Away dream.

Co-written by Hales with playwright Finn O'Branagáin and Clare Watson, ex-Artistic Director and Co-CEO of Perth's Black Swan State Theatre Company, the play will hit the Opera House's Drama Theatre from Tuesday, September 6–Saturday, September 10. Watson directs, too.

It comes to the venue after proving a hit in WA and overseas, including seasons at Perth Festival 2018, at Black Swan State Theatre Company in 2019, and at Edinburgh International Festival and London's Southbank Centre.

As well as being committed to showing how people with disability are needlessly othered, and endeavouring to rectify that, You Know We Belong Together will feature integrated Auslan interpretation and captioning during its film segments. There'll also be a quiet space in the Drama Theatre foyer during the play's Opera House run.

You Know We Belong Together plays Sydney Opera House's Drama Theatre from Tuesday, September 6–Saturday, September 10. For more information or to buy tickets — with pre-sales from 9am on Tuesday, June 21 and general sales from 9am on Friday, June 24 — head to the Opera House's website.

Images: Toni Wilkinson.

Published on June 21, 2022 by Sarah Ward
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