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New online effort to kickstart popular confession performance

A local stage production has ten days to raise $20,000 through Amazon.Com’s “Kickstart” program, for their next round of funding. So far, almost $15,000 has been pledged towards “Too Much Information,” otherwise known as “TMI.” No funds get transferred by the sponsor unless the entire goal is met.

Producer Eva Tenuto spoke about her project — now in its third season. “Our registration has tripled, we have a lot of new voices we haven’t heard before,” she said. We have 26 students right now, and we’re going to have three separate casts when we do production — each night will be different stories.”

The idea for TMI came out of Tenuto’s experience directing the Vagina Monologues — an internationally recognized effort known for its controversial title and subject. “It definitely inspired us, but we’re not really related to that in any other way,” Tenuto explained. “It’s a series of monologues based on real life experiences — which the Vagina Monologues is also.”

TMI takes the Monologues to a more personal level, Tenuto commented. “The difference is that readers of the work are the people that the stories happen to,” she said. “Everyone is reading their own work, so they’re all telling their own story. And the subject matter varies,” Tenuto added, “so we’re not doing a bunch of monologues about vaginas.”

Tenuto elaborated on subject matter. “It’s generalized. Basically the theme of TMI is we tell the parts of the story that people normally leave out — we’re revealing something that we normally don’t reveal.”

She said the results are positive. “It ends up being a really transformative process for the readers and for the listeners as well. As they tell it and start shaping it, they have a new experience of what happened to them, and start seeing things in different ways.”

TMI workshops represent a form of personal growth therapy, she indicated. “They’re really required to have a certain level of letting go — in terms of which parts of the story they hold onto. And that could get really hard for people, but once they surrender to that process, they all say they have a certain sense of relief,” Tenuto said.

“They’ve gone from having this story which they were afraid to tell anyone — to sharing with 300 people publicly. I think it eliminated a lot of negative feelings they might have been holding onto, like shame or guilt.” Tenuto added, “A lot of the material is hysterically funny — 85% of the work is comedy.”

Tenuto scoffed at censors who would omit potentially offensive language — such as anatomical references. “I think it’s ridiculous,” she replied. “It’s really surprising — it’s a body part, it’s not a bad word. It’s bizarre to me that an editor would say in this day and age, that you can’t put ‘vagina’ in the newspaper.”

Slowly, TMI is gaining popularity. “We’re nowhere near where the Vagina Monologues has been, because they’re known internationally,” Tenuto remarked. “We’ve gotten tremendous feedback from the local community. We’re still pretty new. I’m impressed with how much coverage we’ve gotten.” An upcoming sponsored run at the Brooklyn Lyceum will be the first time TMI has left the Hudson Valley.

“The whole reason we’re doing this Kickstarter campaign, is because we’d like to be able to expand our program and go on tour — offer the program to people who don’t have access to writing workshops, offer scholarships.”

The next TMI performance happens first weekend in February at the Rosendale Theater, followed by a weekend retreat at Lifebridge Sancutary in late February. Regular workshops are held at Rosendale’s Canal Town Alley, behind Big Cheese. “We also do TMIdol, which is a story slam,” Tenuto noted. Next slam is on Nov. 3rd, at Market Market, 9pm.

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