Tourette’s Syndrome is a laughing matter

Laughter is encouraged at a stage production which makes theatre accessible for all, while also demystifying an unusual neurological condition.
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Photo by Jonathan Birch

Though most of us would like to imagine that the theatre is a welcoming place, the truth is that there are numerous barriers which discourage attendance. Socio-economic factors are one – another is disability and difference.

For English actor Jess Thom a trip to the theatre can be a nightmare. Thom has Tourette’s Syndrome – a neurological condition characterised by repetitive involuntary vocalisations and muscle movements called ‘tics’, which in Thom’s case result in her saying the word ‘biscuit’ up to 16,000 times a day.

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Richard Watts OAM is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, a Melbourne Fringe Festival Living Legend, and was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize in 2020. In 2021 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Green Room Awards Association. Most recently, Richard received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in June 2024. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts