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 is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts