I stumbled across this organization while I was trying to find out more about the subject of #199, Alan Rabinowitz. Our Time Theatre Company had given him an award in 2004. His acceptance speech moved me, but I wondered why a theatre company would be giving a wildlife conservationist an award.
What I learned made me want to shout, “Yes!” Our Time is unlike other youth theatre because it has one absolute requirement: Only stutterers may join. Every one of them knows the pain of the outsider. They have all been laughed at, bullied, and humiliated. At Our Time they thrive on unconditional love. They listen to each other with respect and compassion. They gain confidence and communication skills. They make new friends. They learn to turn the language of their hearts into powerful stage pieces by writing and performing their stories.
I read the founder’s message right after watching the troupe perform on Anderson Cooper’s talk show (below). I already had tears in my eyes, but Taro Alexander’s story brought on some more, along with a huge smile. He writes:
I grew up feeling trapped, alone and isolated. I did not meet another person who stuttered until I was twenty-six years old. For a long time I thought of myself, and all people who stutter as freaks.
It is because of the arts that I became okay with who I am. What performing did for me, and is now doing for Our Time company members, is instill confidence. Performing on stage provides a feeling of success that no one can ever take away.
Our Time started working with teens in 2001. In 2004 the company started a pre-teen program for ages 8 to 12. In 2009 they added film-making and also released a CD of their original songs, recorded by the likes of Carly Simon, John Forté and Mandy Patinkin. Take a look at all they’ve accomplished, and I guarantee you’ll be impressed.
And you just might have tears in your eyes too, when you listen to these beautiful young people sing,
There is a magical place called Our Time.
No one makes fun of you.
You will be loved.