Tourette Syndrome and Theatre

By Peyton E. 

I recently saw a post on the Teens4TS blog about Tourette’s Syndrome and theatre. This piqued my interest because I am a young adult with TS who loves theatre! I figure, especially now, that I am not the only one. So, I’d like to explore that a little more: the relationship between my Tourette’s and theatre.

I started doing theatre in 8th grade, when I was cast in a play written and directed by my art teacher. He was a really cool guy, and probably the reason I love acting to this day. At that time, I didn’t know why, but I knew I liked theatre. Maybe it was because I didn’t tic while I was on stage. I was able to say my lines clearly and act without my Tourette’s getting in the way.

So, I continued to pursue theatre in high school, especially my sophomore year. It became a really important part of my life because it was something I seemed to be good at, especially according to other people. As I continued to act in plays and musicals, theatre became a passion of mine. In fact, it was probably my main passion; and, the first thing I remember loving to do outside of my classes in school. I don’t remember having that feeling before I began acting.

Unfortunately, in middle and high school, I began to struggle with my mental health. But, even as my academics, my anxiety, and my life spiralled out of control, I continued to pursue acting, even when it was hard. Because of my anxiety, I often delayed working on homework and projects, usually turning them in late, or not at all. This affected my grades, and made me feel even more anxious. I’m lucky I wasn’t kicked out of the drama club because of this, as it was often a haven for me to express myself. But it wasn’t always: anxiety crept into all aspects of my life, including theatre. I wasn’t always motivated to memorize my lines, which made it difficult to give my best performance. And I didn’t always feel good enough, unless others told me so. I sought validation from everyone, except myself.

But after taking a break for a few years, I’ve realized that theatre was, and still is, an important part of my life. I don’t know if I’ll be lucky, or even skilled enough, to one day be a professional actor. But I’d like to try. And to other TS/Theatre Kids and Young Adults reading this, I’d like to say that whatever part of the theatre you are: whether it be cast, crew, pit, lighting, sound, or something else, if you love the theatre, you are an important part of it. Your differences should be valued and embraced as an important part of the theatre, and the world.  

Theatre and Tourette’s Youth, unite! 



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