‘I’m Never Coming To The Theatre Again’

It’s Friday and time for a quick Kickstarter update, we’re now at £4366! This is brilliant news, thanks to everyone who’s backed Backstage In Biscuit Land – the show we’re taking to the Edinburgh Fringe. But it’s all or nothing with this appeal so we have to reach our target or we get nothing! Please keep telling people about the campaign and the show and make pledge if you haven’t yet had the chance.

Last night I was reading through some old blog posts, reflecting on my journey with Tourettes. I found a post that serves as a sharp reminder of just how far I’ve come, how easily I could’ve been thrown off track, and why it’s so important to increase understanding of difference.

Just under three years ago I had an experience at the theatre that left me sobbing in a sound booth. I didn’t need to read the whole post to remember how intensely sad and humiliated I’d felt when, despite loads of planning and forethought, I’d been asked to move to the booth at the side of the stage because people were complaining about my tics.

I sat in that box, with my friends who’d been moved too, fighting to contain my tears and hide how hurt I really was. I wanted to leave the theatre then and there and never set foot in one again. Rather than give into this feeling, I’ve had the support and encouragement that’s enabled me to take a different path. I’m now on the verge of being part of one of the most well known performing arts festivals in the world.

Things feel so much better now – I’m more confident in articulating my needs and asserting my rights, and as a wheelchair-user I’m generally treated with much more understanding than when I could walk. But the intensity of these moments is permanently etched into my memory.

I hope that by making the challenges, humour and creativity of Tourettes more visible, Backstage In Biscuit Land will increase empathy and reduce the chances of damaging experiences like those I’ve mentioned for others.

I don’t normally go back over negative experiences in this way but I think it’s useful to remember these moments, and the lessons I’ve learned from them, as I start out on a new stage of the journey. There are sure to be challenges as we build the show and times when I’ll want to hide away, but I know that fighting through these feelings will lead to amazing things.

I’m very glad I didn’t keep my pledge to stay away from the theatre. What I’m doing now is asking everyone to help me get to Edinburgh. If you can, please make a pledge on our Kickstarter and back me in my mission to put Tourettes centre stage.

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