Sponsorship helps give voice to diverse artists

A partnership between St John of God Health Care and WA’s leading theatre company is helping bring untold stories to the main stage.

St John of God Health Care arts and health

21 November 2019 

Since 2014, St John of God Health Care has been a proud partner of the Black Swan State Theatre Company in Western Australia, enabling the company to develop shows featuring the work of artists from a variety of backgrounds.

“This partnership gives us the opportunity to pursue new and different works from artists we’ve not heard from before. Shakespeare and Chekhov are the undisputed greats, but times are changing and we need new perspectives,” Black Swan State Theatre Company Artistic Director Clare Watson said.

One such production, is You Know We Belong Together, a piece written and performed by Perth-based artist Julia Hales, who shares a deeply personal account of her life, relationships and ambitions as a person living with Down syndrome.

“I’ve been acting for more than 20 years, and I rarely get to see someone like me on TV or the stage,” Julia said.

“So, I created my own show.”

Sharing its title with the theme song to Australian soap opera Home and Away, the show pays homage to Julia’s life-long ambition to become a permanent fixture in Summer Bay.

Following the sold-out success of its 2018 world premiere, the production, a collaboration between DADAA and Perth Festival, enjoyed an encore season at the Heath Ledger Theatre in 2019.

It features Julia, alongside a cast of performers from across many genres including dance, fine arts and filmmaking.

There is even a cameo from one of Summer Bay’s most-loved residents.

“You can usually tell when a show is going to do well. From the first read through in rehearsal, it was clear You Know We Belong Together was a hit,” Clare said.

“Julia’s story, told in this way is something that hasn’t been seen before. I’m hoping it paves the way for other artists with disability to tell their stories, and for those stories to be prioritised and supported by our major performing arts companies and festivals nationally.”

St John of God Health Care’s sponsorship of Black Swan State Theatre Company is a part of our commitment to promoting the role arts play in enhancing the wellbeing of the communities we serve.

“It is wonderful to see how our sponsorship is enabling diverse stories to be brought to a wider audience,” St John of God Health Care Group Chief Executive Officer Dr Shane Kelly said.

“There is a growing understanding of the importance of art in promoting wellbeing, not only in the hospital setting but in the wider community and we are proud to have a role in this.”

The Black Swan State Theatre Company hopes to showcase You Know We Belong Together in the eastern states and London in future.

Julia recently received a grant from the Australia Council, which through mentoring from Black Swan State Theatre Company, enables her to continue to provide a voice for artists living with disability.

“My advice to anyone wanting to tell their story, is just get out there and shine,” Julia said.

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