On Saturday Kath and I had the joy of seeing Jess, TourettesHero, Chopin, and Leftwing Idiot at Soho Theatre on the last stage of their BAC supported run at the Barbican/Soho with Backstage in Biscuitland. For anyone who has never seen this show, you can catch it this week in Sweden, but if you are in the UK you may have to wait for the 2016 tour.
But before then I urge you to connect with www.touretteshero.com/ where you can understand more about this fantastic company established by Jess Thom and Matthew Pountney, its work with young people, its role in campaigning for the rights and freedoms for disabled people, and as a source for amazing curious minds and creativity.
After the show there was a Q&A where Jess Thom and her co-performer, and master improv expert, Jess Mabel Jones explored the challenges of a double act finely honed performance where there was another collaborator, TourettesHero who offered random creative thoughts from Jess’s unconscious mind. Where Harold Pinter came from no-one will ever know, but he popped up a few times in the script unbidden yesterday.
Tourettes is a neurological condition which, they believe, affects 300,000 people in Britain. And this show seeks to help anyone understand the challenges and creative possibilities of tics, and the bizzarest of creative ideas. Anyone reading my blog from last week on Creativity and the Curious Mind might find a trip to the touretteshero site and its word list should offer some curious new ideas. Surreal yes, inspiring maybe, shared openly and with the most generous heart most definitely. Here’s page 21 of 644 pages of daily tics for your inspiration.
The discussion included eye opening, for me, considerations of what it is to live with a disability.
Jess is not disabled by what she has happening in her head, she is disabled by the way in which society and structures operate to make it most difficult for her to live.
She has learned that she does not lose her personal liberty and right of choice just because she, herself, cannot make a cup of tea. It is her choice whether she has a cup of tea on not, and then she needs the right support person to be there to make the cuppa (and have one themselves).
If she is denied the support she needs, the access to buildings the rest of us can visit, or the right to enjoy a live theatre experience in the same physical space with the rest of us. Then and only then is she disabled. Disabled by us, by government, by society.
That is what she is campaigning for through the power of wonderful theatremaking and inspirational speeches. I have heard her Ted talk. Someone in the audience heard her at Cambridge Science Festival – read the text here
Jess is inspiring. Like any good improv show (which is effectively what TourettesHero’s additions to the script generate for us) you can see this time after time and never fail to be enriched, inspired, and weep with laughter.
Most importantly try and see it once at a theatre near you, and if you run a theatre near you, book the show fast. Jess and Matthew have fascinating plans to develop. Their next challenge is to create the live show for the BBC which will be broadcast along with Gecko on Nov 15th https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2015/gecko-touretteshero-chosen-live-bbc-theatre-broadcast/ Encourage all your friends to watch these two amazing companies.
Thank you Matthew for bringing me into contact with Biscuitland. I can’t wait to be back.