support » what people are saying
what people are saying
"I am pleased to express my support for Our Time, a non-profit organization that uses the arts as an innovative and effective approach to improving the lives of young people who stutter."
click here to read the Vice President's full letter
Michael R. Bloomberg, Former Mayor
This terrific theater company provides an artistic home for young people who stutter.
click here to download the full Mayor's letter
"Breathe in the life you're livin'
Reach out and take a chance
Breathe in the life you're given
Don't be afraid to dance
And when I'm here
I'm gonna rock the world
And I'm not afraid of living all
I'll sing the song my heart has to offer
I'll soar up high
I'm shooting for the stars"
Naudia Jones, teen company, age 17
Our Time Theatre Company would have made a huge difference in my life had it been around twenty years ago. As a person who stutters, I never thought I could perform on stage. Apparently my teachers did not either. I would always get bit parts in grade school: like in Kindergarten playing the Cherry Tree in "George Washington Chops Down the Cherry Tree." I had the only non-speaking part in the play. It's no wonder that by the time I reached my teens, I would not even try out for the school play. There was no way I could perform. How I envied everyone else who spoke so effortlessly.
As a spectator and an adult who stutters, Our Time has made a huge impact on my life. To watch these kids act on stage with such confidence, to see the amazing support they give each other, to watch them perform original songs and plays, is truly inspiring. After a performance, I get the feeling that anything is possible. I also feel a little melancholy, however. I wish Our Time was available when I was a kid. Although it's twenty years too late for me, I am grateful that it is available now. The tools the company members gain are irreplaceable. The education it serves for the audience is essential. I will always support Our Time to help ensure its existence for many years in the future. The members have become my role models.
"People laugh at me a lot because I'm different. I hate when people pick on me, and I also hate when people disrespect me. See sometimes I cry myself to sleep because it feels like I'm in a box and I can't get out, and it's like I'm in the rain with no coat or shoes on. But when I stand here today, I know deep inside my heart I'm something in this world."
Dashawn Taylor, pre-teen company, age 12
Our Time provides outstanding theatre arts instruction by talented and dedicated artists amid an atmosphere of love, collaboration, and self acceptance.
My support for Our Time is personal and long-standing. My son, David, was one of the original members of Our Time and the first actor on stage during their inaugural season. During his five years with the company, he learned the structure of playwriting, theme development, and how to drum, sing, and perform on stage - irrespective of his stutter. He also became more confident, funnier, and more actively engaged in every aspect of life. When he graduated from high school, he was the sole recipient of an award presented each year to students who have shown significant development as individuals and as members of their school community.
As much as Our Time benefited my son, it also enriches my life and the lives of our family and friends. The full-length plays written and performed by Our Time company members are inspiring and vivid reminders of the power of theatre to transform both the performer and the audience. When we see the talent and enthusiasm of the young people in Our Time, and the way they patiently listen to one another, my husband and I remember to relax about our son's stuttering.
Over the years, the Our Time plays have continued to amaze me, with themes that eloquently speak to the passions and concerns of a diverse group of young people. Company members have the courage to speak from their hearts and their minds - irrespective of the fluency of their speech.
"Because of Our Time, I am WAY more outspoken, because I figure that I shouldn't be ashamed of stuttering. I mean, come on, I got a standing ovation for it. How many people my age can say they have done an Off-Broadway play, been interviewed for the New York Daily News and New York One, and actually do something on Saturdays?"
Corom Buksha, teen company, age 16
Liz Tuccillo Writer, Sex and The City, He's Just Not That Into You
The goal of Our Time is to give young people who stutter a place where they can express themselves in their own time, in a safe, welcoming environment. One of the ways this is accomplished is when the Our Time company members write and perform their own plays for the public.
The benefits of being encouraged to write what's on your mind, and then being able to perform in a public setting are obvious, particularly for young people who stutter. The kids' vision and thoughts and words get validated in a huge way and therefore help their confidence enormously. They then go out into the world feeling, with a little more assuredness, that what they have to say is important.
But one element to this that might not be so evident and is incredibly important to me, as a writer and an audience member - is that the plays are good. These kids are being challenged to make great theater; to learn what it means to write a great play - and to learn how to re-write as well. This isn't drama therapy, this is a place where the kids are taught how to make an exciting evening of theater. This to me is the most impressive thing about this program, and one that I look forward to helping with and supporting for years to come.
In general, Our Time Theatre Company has created one of the most unique, supportive, loving communities I have ever witnessed firsthand. It is truly special and worthy in every way imaginable!
"Our deepest gratitude for providing a voice for our children's hopes, dreams and feelings. May Our Time Theatre Company be widely recognized and replicated so that all stutterers have access to such an exciting and transforming experience. Our Time has given Yoni a gift that no amount of speech lessons or psychological counseling could give. Yoni has matured and developed a sense of self-confidence and self-respect."
Jack & Linda Messing, Our Time parents
Phillip Schneider, Ed. D
Associate Professor Emeritus, Queens College, CUNY
National Stuttering Association Speech Pathologist of the Year 2004
As a Speech Language Pathologist specializing in stuttering and a professor of Communication Disorders at Queens College, CUNY, I can testify to the fact that Our Time Theatre Company is the most powerful healing application of the arts for young people who stutter.
A few years ago, Founder and Artistic Director Taro Alexander left his acting career and created a "safe house" where young people who stutter are taught how to express themselves through acting, writing, directing, singing, and dancing, while telling their stories of struggle with courage and pride. Every Saturday, Taro brings together young people from all cultural, economic, and racial backgrounds, and infuses their lives with the healing power of the arts. I have watched these young people transform their lives from the silence of shame to the fulfillment of artistic expression in poetry, song, dance, and drama. Before participating in the theatre company, these youngsters believed that their lives would always be socially, educationally, and vocationally limited by silence. Now they realize they can soar as high as they can dream.
Once they discover and experience their freedom of speech in theatre these youngsters become empowered to make all their dreams come true. Simultaneously, they create emotionally uplifting theatre experiences for their audiences. Our Time serves as an incredible source of inspiration for all of us. I continue to encourage everyone I know to attend. Through participation in Our Time, young people who stutter are transformed into ambassadors of the message that human beings can transcend a wide range of challenges if they do not allow fear of difference to stop them.
Our Time Theatre Company is the finest example of how the arts can be used to bring light into dark places in the lives of young people.
"I was moved, energized, impressed, educated, delighted, and enlightened. There is hope out there after all!"
Our Time is thrilled to announce that Meredith Vieira will be hosting our 2014 Annual Benefit Gala on April 28th, 2014! Save the date!
Click here to enroll in Our Time for the Spring! Our programs are now available in New York City, New Jersey, Long Island and Westchester!