The Cultural and Education section of the British Embassy and Garage Museum of Contemporary Art present Jess Thom’s first visit to Moscow and the screening of the film Touretteshero: Me, My Mouth and I.
Artist, activist, and performer Jess Thom has Tourette syndrome and is about to take on the biggest creative challenge of her life. In this film Jess takes us on a funny and unpredictable journey of discovery into one of Samuel Beckett's most complex plays, Not I, and asks us to reconsider issues of representation and social exclusion as she prepares to perform the role of “Mouth” in front of a live theater audience.
Jess Thom says: “I’ve long been fascinated by the intensity of Not I. I have a strong affinity with Mouth, and I’m interested in how a neuro-diverse performance would work in practice. We’re claiming Mouth as a disabled voice and will explore the experience from that perspective.”
Jess discovers that much of what Mouth says relates to her own lived experience of Tourette’s. The audience will witness her personal exploration of disability culture in the arts and her attempt to prove that her interpretation of the piece might be closer to Beckett’s original intentions than we previously thought.
By combining Jess’s own experience as a disabled performer and the rigorous rehearsal process for the performance, this film draws on her research and development of Not I as a springboard to explore the ideas and themes in Beckett’s work.
Jess meets with fellow disabled artists such as activist, comedian, and Silent Witness actor Liz Carr, Beckett expert Derval Tubridy, and other people with lived experience of Tourette’s as she uncovers the central themes originally intended by Beckett for this piece. And as a lateral thinker we see her working with UK MC and rapper Rodney P to learn from his oratory skills as she works to deliver an unforgettable performance.
Jess challenges the perception that only certain works can be performed by and made accessible to disabled audiences and questions the cultural curation that lies behind this assumption. Navigating her way through the practical and attitudinal barriers, she asks us to consider who is allowed to perform what, and who gets the final say.
“By presenting Mouth in a way that works for my unpredictable body and speech, I aim to de-problematize previous interpretations and show that Mouth is only as isolated as her community makes her.”
After the screening there will be a Q&A with Jess Thom.