Jess Thom a.k.a. Touretteshero ©

Courtesy of the artist

From May-June 2016, the British Council supported the North American tour of Backstage in Biscuit Land, a unique glimpse into the life of an artist with Tourette Syndrome. 


Combining storytelling, comedy and puppetry, Backstage in Biscuit Land offers an intimate glimpse into Jess Thom’s unique perspective as an artist and woman with Tourette Syndrome. As a result of her tics, Thom says 'biscuit' 16,000 times a day.

Thom loved the theatre as a child, but the intensity of her tics made it increasingly difficult to attend, a situation that culminated three years ago when she was asked to sit in isolation during a performance. Instead of never returning to the theatre, Thom found the only seat in the house she wouldn’t be asked to leave: the stage. Playful and laugh-out-loud funny, Backstage in Biscuit Land is a case in point that making theatre inclusive makes it better.

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About Touretteshero

Writer, artist and activist Jess Thom co-founded Touretteshero in 2010 to celebrate the creativity and humor of Tourette Syndrome. She has performed at Glastonbury, given a TEDx talk at the Royal Albert Hall and co-curated events with Tate Britain. She regularly works for Channel 4 and has appeared on Stephen Fry’s BBC TV series Planet Word.

Thom has had tics since she was a child but wasn’t diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome until she was in her twenties. With some encouragement from her friends, Thom decided to turn her tics into a source of imaginative creativity and the Touretteshero project was born.

Touretteshero aims to celebrate and share the creativity and humor of Tourette Syndrome in an accessible way, with the widest possible audience. The organization has four main objectives:

To increase awareness of Tourette Syndrome and its challenges without self-pity or mockery. To take ownership of the laughter associated with Tourette Syndrome in order to provide a genuinely funny cultural alternative. To suggest informal ways of dealing with the challenging social situations that people with Tourette Syndrome often face. To run innovative events for children and young people with Tourette Syndrome that focus on the value of play, interaction and social inclusion rather than any associated ‘problems’.

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