By Popular Demand, TMI Project Brings Mental Health Association Workshop Show to Rosendale Theatre Tuesday, May 28th at 7 pm
After two packed performances at the Mental Health Association of Ulster County’s Kingston offices in December and February, MHA clients who participated in a TMI Project writing workshop will take to the stage at the Rosendale Theatre on Tuesday, May 28th in celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month.
In what is a command performance of the popular show, participants will perform true monologues they wrote, based on their own experiences, over the course of the 10-week workshop last fall taught by TMI Project Executive Director Eva Tenuto and Editorial Director Sari Botton.
“By writing the truth about their experiences with mental illness,” Tenuto says, “the participants are helping to dispel the stigma around it.”
The MHA workshop was one of the first that non-profit TMI Project was able to offer through its Community Outreach Initiative. Other venues that have benefitted include a detention center for teen boys, an alternative school for pregnant and parenting teen moms, and an LBGTQ teen workshop.
“After we taught the workshop a few times and saw the impact it consistently had on participants, we launched the Community Outreach Initiative to reach communities and populations who often don’t get to tell their stories or be heard,” Tenuto says.
The workshop was particularly well received at MHA.
“This group was less reluctant than any before to share the truth about their experiences, to give the audience a view of their emotional interiors,” Botton says. “I suppose that’s why the two shows at MHA were such a hit, and there is demand for a bigger show at the Rosendale Theatre.
“I have worked in the mental health field for over 30 years,” says Ellen Pendegar, CEO of MHA, “and continue to be energized and passionate about my work because I get to know many people who have serious mental illness, who not only survive but thrive. I am happy that the TMI project has given individuals an opportunity to share their wisdom and strength. Their voices have been silenced too long. I need them to keep talking and keep helping me to be a better person!”
“It is critical that we begin to talk openly about mental health issues with the same ease with which we talk about other issues in our lives,” says Denise Ranaghan, Director of Wellness Services. “We should not be riddled with shame and guilt, which is what happens when we feel we have something to hide. TMI Project has provided a venue to crack open the dialogue and to address cultural and societal assumptions made about persons who experience mental illness. It should be common knowledge that people do recover from mental illness. Unfortunately it isn’t.”
Having participated herself, Rahaghan knows firsthand how powerful the TMI workshop has been for MHA participants. “It has been an incredibly empowering experience for the individuals who have taken the workshop and are now telling their stories,” she says. “This performance also shows the diversity among people’s experiences. And it is educational to the community.”
TMI Project, a non-profit organization, was launched by Tenuto in 2010, after she’d directed the Vagina Monologues twice as a benefit for The United Way’s Hope’s Fund. She and wanted to get people writing and telling their own stories instead, and put the focus on getting them to tell the parts of their stories they usually leave out because they’re too embarrassing or painful.
“There’s something both cathartic and connective about revealing our deepest and darkest – not to mention our most embarrassing – moments,” Tenuto says. “The personal is universal, and in sharing their stories, TMI writers/performers help to reveal common threads in all our lives.”
“Come hear the truth about our transitions, challenges and moments of growth, pride and accomplishment,” suggests Tenuto, who will perform all three dates, as will Botton. “Yes, we’re a bit reluctant to stand in front of an audience and tell our sometimes painful truth, especially about mental illness … but we’re going to do it anyway! Because sharing our stories is empowering and uplifting to both actor and audience.”
Directed by Tenuto, the MHA edition of Too Much Information will be performed Tuesday, May 28th at 7 pm at the Rosendale Theatre, in Rosendale, New York. Tickets are suggested donation $15 in advance / $20 at the door.
Advanced Tickets Available online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/378557