Ep 8: Where Storytelling Meets Activism: A Conversation with Eva Tenuto


The parts of the story that we leave out, the parts of ourselves that we’re too ashamed to share - what happens when you shape these into art? Our guest Eva Tenuto, co-founder of the Hudson Valley-based TMI project describes her life’s work: helping people uncover, shape, and share their stories. Through workshops that lead up to public performances, deep personal experiences are crafted to create community, healing, and help performers and audience members see that they aren’t alone.

In our conversation with Eva, we talk about the writing and editing process and how it’s deepened by sharing it with a group. The TMI process invites people to explore and tell versions of vulnerable stories and to get the support from facilitators to make it a powerful, captivating story that will speak to the audience’s collective heart.  We explore how TMI creates a special container that’s unique and and that telling such revealing stories isn’t for everyone in all venues.

“Relationships shape stories and stories shape relationships” is part of the POBScast’s guiding vision. That becomes crystal clear as Eva helps us see how participants relationships are often transformed when these shared stories are told. And, Eva describes how writing and sharing her own monologues changed her own relationships, specifically with her own mother. The roots of the TMI program clearly come from Eva’s own life and she talks about how traumatic experiences as an adolescent, her struggle with addiction, her recovery process, and her passion for theater all combine to create this tremendous organization.

Activism is key to the TMI platform and that means shining a spotlight on the stories that rarely get told and heard. The Black Stories Matter program will culminate in at least one performance on March 25th 2017 in Kingston, NY. Eva talks about how our inherently segregated communities often keeps us from hearing each other and how carefully considered projects like this one aim to help us listen to understand (not just respond).

Truth telling can be contagious. When someone has the courage to tell a story long kept secret, others feel they have permission to share their own stories.

Watch performances and learn about TMI’s events and programs, including their new adventures in podcasting: http://www.tmiproject.org/

Eva talked about the difficult  process of publishing a personal story. Read it here: https://longreads.com/2017/01/31/feeling-unsafe-at-every-size/