by Kurt Fitzpatrick
This week we are taking a closer look at some of the performers coming to the 2012 Rogue Festival. Check back here every day through Thursday for more articles & soon for Rogue reviews & be sure and check out the ones we have already posted!
This is my fourth consecutive Rogue Festival, and my first – and hopefully last – festival where I have to do the show while hobbling around with a cane. Last year I developed a herniated disc and I am still recovering from it. Still, it has been important for me to get the message out that I express in my show, Hooray for Speech Therapy.
Throughout my life I have been a stutterer, which at times has cost me jobs, opportunities, and created embarrassing situations for me. It weeded things out for me, though. If someone didn’t want to hire me because I stuttered, is that a person I would want to work for anyway? If someone didn’t want to be my friend because I stuttered, that says a lot about their character, or lack of character, I should say. It has allowed me to see the world in my own unique way. I never had the opportunity growing up to fit in or be like everyone else, but I was able to carve out my own identity.
In the show I talk about growing up as a stutterer, but I also talk about going through intensive speech therapy as an adult. Some years ago I checked into a three-week clinic in Roanoke, Virginia, and began a program to relearn how to speak. I learned new ways of breathing and different techniques to use while articulating words and sounds. After a while, they set us loose on the world, first quarantining us in enclosed cubicles to make calls to local businesses, and then busing us to the nearby mall to talk to unsuspecting salespeople, while using the new speech techniques we learned.
The real work for me began when I got home and began using my speech in the real world. I routinely practiced with and checked in with other people who had gone through the program as well. It’s a major undertaking to relearn speech. I went through the program ten years ago, and I’m still working on it.
I have been performing this show for almost as many years. Someone once said that my show was more rough-around-the-edges than other touring shows. It is! That’s why, after over eighty performances, it never gets boring for me. Just as I continue to develop my speech, I continue to develop this show. I experience the progress and growth on stage and continue to make discoveries.
After I began performing this show, I realized that the shame that I had connected to my stuttering was dwindling. I had spent so much time seeing my stutter as a weakness and trying to hide it, and now it was out in the open. My secret was out. I was telling stories that no one had heard before, even people who knew me fairly well. I did not set out to perform my own therapy, but it had that effect.
I was asked once if I found my stuttering to be a gift or a curse. I said it was a gift. It allowed me to have experiences that I never would have had otherwise, meet people I never would have met otherwise, and it gave me the material to do this show, which has been a blast.
Hooray for Speech Therapy can be seen at Neighborhood Thrift, 353 E. Olive Avenue Friday 3/2 7 p.m., Sunday 3/4 8:30 p.m., Thursday 3/8 8:30 p.m., Saturday 3/10 1 p.m., and Saturday 3/10 8:30 p.m. You can learn more about Kurt on his website.