Bios & Pics

(listed in alphabetical order)
Doug Braun joined the HeArd in 2006 for the Cain Park performance of Hair. He has been the principal interpreter for Cleveland’s North Coast Men’s Chorus since 1987, which gives him over 25 years of musical interpreting experience. He received his sign language training at Cleveland State University. Some favorite productions that he has performed in are Hair, The Wiz, and Cabaret. He has performed in various venues, including the Cleveland Playhouse, Great Lakes Theatre, Cain Park, and EJ Thomas Hall. When not interpreting with the HeArd or for community events, he is a social worker for seniors in the Cleveland area.




Betty Bridgewater has been a community freelance interpreter for over 15 years. She joined The HeArd in 2002. Since that time she has interpreted for Great Lakes Theater Festival, Willoughby Fine Arts, JCC Halle, Dobama Theater, and Cain Park. Her credits include, Love Langston, The Interview, Inherit the Wind, West Side Story, The Wizard of Oz, Anything Goes, and the Dobama Kids Festival. In addition to her community interpreting, Betty is coordinator of Deaf Ministry at her church, and holds membership in the Fellowship of Christian Interpreters (FCI) and state and national chapters of the National Alliance of Black Interpreters (NAOBI). Betty holds national certification from the National Association of the Deaf.



Debi Epstein joined the Heard in 2006. She originally studied at Akron University within the Interpreting Training Program and recently graduated from The Deaf Interpretive Services Program at Cuyahoga Community College. Her Bachelor's in Deaf Education/Special Ed from Kent State University gave her the opportunity to teach Deaf Autistic children. Always a dancer, Debi became a natural at sign language, and her first experience with the Dobama Theatre at Cain Park was with the Children's Festival Theatre. A mother of three and wife of the love of her life, Debi is looking forward to creating many new wonderful performances with The Heard.




Bruce Epstein has been self-employed for the past thirty-eight years. He started his business career   in 1976 by taking over the family wholesale tobacco distributorship.  M & S Candy & Tobacco grew from five to thirty-five employees in 21 years.  In 1997 Bruce sold this business and then developed MSH Merchant Services, providing credit card processing for businesses of all types.  Bruce has developed relationships with over one thousand customers all over the country.  He wanted to provide his business experience to the HeArd by helping them to develop stronger business relationships throughout the business community, and found he could do this by joining the HeArd's nonprofit board of directors, known as Theatrical Interpreting Services of Cleveland (TISC) Inc.  Bruce has a special love for observing theatrical interpreting and finds great joy in being a board member of TISC, Inc.



Angie Herzberger
, Heard member since 2002, has enjoyed interpreting at The Fine Arts Association, Cain Park , The Great Lakes Theatre Festival, The Near West Theater, and Kent State University. Past performances include: The Wizard of Oz , Missionaries, Grease, The Secret Garden, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Music Man, and Joseph. She loves being a cow and has memories to last a lifetime! Thank you Heard for all of the laughs and fun - you are amazing individuals, and I am honored to work with and learn from each of you. Mooooooo!





Erich Herzberger
, while not a sign language interpreter, serves the Heard in his role as facilitator of Theatrical Interpreting Services of Cleveland (TISC, Inc.), the board of directors that steers the HeArd. Erich joined TISC in 2011 and his work quickly proved instrumental to the behind-the-scenes operations of the Heard organization. His skill, patience, and positive energy go a long way in keeping cows from occasionally wandering off...







Mark Howdieshell
is an original member of The Heard. He has been an interpreter with Beachwood City Schools for many years. Mark is active in the Jewish community as an interpreter for various events.






Erin LaFountain has interpreted at PlayhouseSquare, Cain Park, Dobama, The Fine Arts Association, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Cassidy Theatre, Solon, Cleveland Shakespeare Festival and Kent State University. She is the Administrative Manager at Cleveland Signstage Theatre and Co-owner/Producer of SignStage on Tour. Erin is also an actor, having performed on tour in several productions. Memorable roles have included: Mina and Lucy in Dracula, Titania in A Midsummers Night's Dream, Fabian in Twelfth Night, Laurie in Brighton Beach Memoirs, and the Queen Mother in Beckett. She thanks the rest of the Heard for many "Moooooving Experiences" and laughs.




Christine Anastasia Mason joined the HeArd with a passion for theater that brings Deaf and hearing audiences together. To this she brings a range of arts and language experience. She studied painting and visual arts at The University of Michigan, but found her love of theater in Cleveland. It was here also that she discovered Deaf World, and eventually pursued the Kent State University degree in interpreting. While interning at Model Secondary School for the Deaf at Gallaudet University, she experienced Deaf visual theater for the first time. Struck by the power of performance without words, she sought opportunities to interact with Deaf and signing people on an artistic level. Happily, then, she found her way to the HeArd, where Shakespeare meets sign language and the learning never ends.




Jocelyn A. McCullough Brindo
became a member of The Heard in 2002. She received her BA from Kent State University, a MA in Elementary Education and a MA in Educational Administration from Ursuline College and became certified to educate the Deaf at National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, NY. Along with theatrical interpreting, she is a teacher of elementary school students and also teaches American Sign Language at Lakeland Community College. Jocelyn has interpreted performances at Cain Park, The Fine Arts Association in Willoughby and the Great Lakes Theatre Festival.



Larry Nehring has been active in Sign Language theatre since 1989, touring internationally with SUNSHINE TOO, and company member of Cleveland Signstage Theatre, among other credits. Since moving to Cleveland he has been very active as an interpreter, starting with Into the Woods at Cain Park. He has "terped" shows at Great Lakes Theater, Cleveland Play House, Playhouse Square, Cleveland Opera, Willoughby Fine Arts, JCC Halle and Cassidy theatres. He is Artistic Director of the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival and a member of Actor's Equity Association. Mr. Nehring received his MS in Curriculum Development from University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology, and is a graduate of the National Theater Institute (Eugene O'Neill Theater Center).





Melissa O'Grady
began her signing career in 1982 at Cleveland Sign Stage Theatre (formerly FTD). She has been interpreting theatre for fifteen years. She has signed at Dobama Theatre, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Willoughby Fine Arts Association, The Cleveland Playhouse and Cain Park. She also maintains her own cloth doll making company.





Merry Beth Pietila is the oldest female-founder cow of the HeArd still interpreting shows. She is a former actor with Fairmount Theatre of the Deaf (Cleveland Signstage Theatre) and has been interpreting special events and theatrical productions in Ohio since 1990. Prior to that she directed and performed in a Liturgical Sign/Dance Choir in Chicago. Merry has a BA degree from Bowling Green State University in English Literature and Performing Arts Dance and a Master of Divinity Degree from Luther Seminary (St. Paul, MN). Her free lance interpreting work funds her real calling in life: finding homes for domestic and feral cats after spaying/neutering. Donations to fund this program, as well as cat food, are always welcome!




Vince Reddy
became a part of The Heard in the spring of 2002, after a long hiatus from theatrical interpreting. He has interpreted shows at the Great Lakes Theater Festival, and at the Dobama and Willoughby Fine Arts Theaters. In the late 1980s, Vince was involved with Chicagoland Advocates of Signed Theater (CAST), and worked in Chicago's Victory Gardens and Wisdom Bridge Theaters. During that time he also participated in Chicago Gay Men's Chorus productions of The Wizard of Oz and The Pirates of Penzance.




David Samiec holds a longtime place in the heart of the Heard as its skilled and beloved "cowtographer". David shoots the professional photography that appears on HeArd promotional materials and creates non-commercial video documentation of HeArd performances, invaluable to the HeArd's ongoing dialogue and self-assessment. With his wealth of knowledge about the arts and the interpreting process David also serves as a member of the board of directors that steers the HeArd, known as Theatrical Interpreting Services of Cleveland, Inc. He teaches photography at the college level, and continuously creates stunning photographic images in a broad range of contexts from commercial to creative. The HeArd is grateful to have this magician of imagery gracing our pasture.



Ariana Zimcosky joined the group after successfully completing her understudy in April 2012. She is a graduate from both Cuyahoga Community College and Kent State University. She holds an Associate Degree in Deaf Interpreting and a Bachelor's Degree in Educational Interpreting. She also attended various performances as a practicum student and made her debut in Menopause the Musical, All’s Well That Ends Well, and Cymbaline. Her love of the language and expressive nature made the HeArd a perfect fit. Through her understudy experience she was called upon to perform major interpreting roles in The Miracle Worker and A Christmas Carol.