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In early 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic kicked off, Therese was commissioned by the theatre department at Western Nebraska Community College to write a new play to be performed as their fall production. Supplied with a list of six suggested topics from the Acting and Script Production students, two stood out to Therese: ADHD and mermaids.

Adrienne, nearly fifteen, is creative and talented but not living up to her potential. Her best friend and older sister Anna is good at everything, because she tries harder and doesn’t get bored as easily. A story of sisterly solidarity, manipulative sea bitches and solitude in the face of being labelled, Riptides challenges the ‘good girl’ syndrome and gendered prejudices around neurodiversity. Whilst being a creature of fantasy in the sea of a fast mind can be great fun, what do we do when that same sea sweeps us in directions we never chose to go?

From a seed of inspiration taken from H.C. Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, and research showing that ADHD in girls is continuously misunderstood and dismissed, Riptides grew. The challenge of marrying two topics which may at a glance seem mismatched, along with a desire to delve deeper into the relatively unexplored theatrical topic of ADHD in girls, propelled a self-exploratory writing journey. Through interviews with individuals with ADHD and expansive research, Riptides provided Therese with the opportunity to explore and confront her own mind as well as her passionate frustration with narrow and inflexible ideas of what it means to be ‘accomplished’.

Whilst a vividly theatrical ensemble piece, in the face of the global pandemic Riptides will be produced by WNCC as a theatre film streamed by the college in October 2020 - directed by Francesca Mintowt-Czyz. Further to this, the play is available for production in UK and European theatres - and in the hands of the right team may well lend itself to socially distanced productions if proved necessary!

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