SOPHIE the play by Emily Curtis & Sophie Potter is being performed at The Hope Theatre, Islington this October. Sophie is an autobiographical story, is based on Emily and her sister, Sophie, who has Downs syndrome. The piece explores their experiences growing up together in Hull and is an honest portrayal of what it’s like to grow up with a sister who has additional complex needs and explores themes of sisterhood, womanhood, and sexuality. Here the writers share the background of the piece and its’ inspiration…
Sophie is an auto-biographical story which explores the sister’s upbringing in Hull. The play lays bare the true hardship faced by a family living in a where Down syndrome was stigmatised, side-lined, and treated as an illness. The hope of finding a way through the challenges that society has thrusted upon them rests with their brilliant and resilient Mum. The play begins with Emily & Sophie as children, as we follow them through their teenage and then adult years, it’s in growing up that we see Sophie being excluded from a life that Emily is able to experience and enjoy. The two sisters begin to grow apart when Emily’s teenage ignorance is fuelled by the discriminative views of her peers in high school. The narrative, raw and exposing, is held together by moments of gentleness and childlike innocence. The story though is ultimately a celebration, shedding light on how fulfilling life can be with someone like Sophie in it. If the opening scene – set at Sophie’s 30th birthday party – doesn’t get you up dancing, then S-club 7 dance routine in the middle certainly will!
The reason behind Sophie, is predominantly because a creative environment is when Sophie is at her happiest and able to express herself truthfully, and always in a safe and fun space. However, for Emily, it is an opportunity to work with her sister in an original and intimate way – truly trying to understand her sister’s wants, needs, and desires, which is something Sophie is not always able to articulate and comprehend without thorough prompting.
The older Emily has got, and the more experience she has had working with children and adults with additional needs, she has learnt so much in regard to people’s perceptions of disabled individuals. Some of these are based on ignorance’s and lack of education, and some are based on pure fear. Emily would like to challenge this observation by informing and offering true performative stories, based on her personal life experiences with Sophie, and this is the reason why, the sisters are incredibly excited to show audiences, Sophie.