On the Couch with Jess Thom

jess-thom-arts-review-on-the-couchWho is Jess Thom?
Me! I’m an artist, writer and part time superhero. I also have Tourette Syndrome – a neurological condition that means I make movements and noises I can’t control called tics.

Who inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by all sorts of things: my friends, family, people I work with and disabled and non-disabled performers who use their creativity to make interesting and unusual work.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
My mission is to change the world “One tic at a time” I use the humour and creativity of Tourette’s to raise awareness and campaign for a more just and equal society. This is something we all have the power to do.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
The work I do takes me around the world and leaves me little time for holidays. If I had to choose one place though it would be the Isle of Skye, which is just above Scotland. It’s quiet, remote and completely beautiful.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
The Switch House at Tate Modern because then they could see the whole of London as well as some of the best contemporary art in the world.

What are you currently reading?
Not I by Samuel Beckett. I’m drawn to the character of Mouth who doesn’t quite seem to recognise her own voice within this challenging and intriguing monologue.

What are you currently listening to?
UK Grime artist Stormzy, his track Where Do You Know Me From? has become a tour essential and I was lucky enough to see him at the Glastonbury Festival this year.

Happiness is?
Having time to enjoy what I’m doing and who I’m doing it with. Knowing that we all have the power to make change in our lives and in our communities.

What does the future hold for you?
Who knows? I expect it’ll be full of more laughter, surreal tics, challenges, and “a sock puppet impersonating a kiwi.”

Jess is co-founder of Touretteshero and may or may not lead a secret double life as a superhero. Artist, playworker, and expert fundraiser, Jess currently helps coordinate a large play project in South London. Jess has had tics since she was a child but wasn’t diagnosed with Tourettes until she was in her twenties. With some encouragement from her friends, Jess decided to turn her tics into a source of imaginative creativity and the Touretteshero project was born.

In association with Touretteshero, Melbourne Festival will present relaxed performances of Backstage in Biscuit Land where all audience members are urged to feel comfortable in the theatre, designed to welcome people who would benefit from less traditional theatre etiquette and the expectations of stillness and silence.

Backstage in Biscuit Land plays at the Beckett Theatre – The Coopers Malthouse as part of the 2016 Melbourne Festival until Sunday 16 October. For more information, visit: www.festival.melbourne for details.

Image: Jess Thom