Bios & Pics (in alphabetical order)
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.
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.
Debi Cohen began her sign language studies at Akron University in the Interpreting Training Program and received her Associate’s Degree from Cuyahoga Community College in Deaf Interpretive Services. She received her Bachelor’s from Kent State University in Deaf Education and Special Education and currently works as a community sign language interpreter throughout the Greater Cleveland area. Debi joined the Heard in 2006 and her first interpreting experience was with the Dobama Theater at Cain Park where she fell in love with the process of theatrical interpreting. Since that time she has interpreted multiple performances including, Sweeney Todd, Les Miserables, Elf, My Fair Lady, and several Shakespeare performances.
Rachel Cornacchione joined us as a happy HeArd member in 2016. Since then Rachel found that besides the fun musical productions, comedies, and children's shows for which she'd always had an affinity, she also had an undiscovered talent for interpreting hefty works of The Bard. She first flexed her muscle for Shakespeare with Great Lakes Theater's Hamlet in 2017, then quickly followed that with GLT's Midsummer Night's Dream, and then Macbeth in the next GLT season. With her impressive skill at morphing into any theatrical character in a wide range of genres, whether Disney's spritely mermaid Ariel or Shakespeare's conniving villain Claudius, Rachel animates HeArd performances with all the music, sound, and soul of the stage!
Clarice Craig-Mavec developed a love for sign language at a young age. Although her first calling led her in the direction to receive bachelor and master degrees in teaching, love of sign language stayed in her heart for many years. She studied at Tri-C Eastern and Western campuses earning her degree and license in Deaf Interpreting Services. Since then she busily continues her study and practice of theatrical and music interpreting that was first launched with the Bringing the Stage to Life Performance Interpreting Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Clarice Craig-Mavec joined The HeArd in 2018 after completing the understudy program.
Jonathan Dryden serves as Provost and Vice President for Academic and Learner Services at Lorain County Community College (LCCC). Jonathan earned his PhD. in English literature at the University of Arizona, and for the past 15 years has taught college composition as well as English and American literature. As a fan of theater and theatrical interpreting, Jonathan joined the Theatrical Interpreting Services of Cleveland (TISC, Inc.) board to support its mission and vision.
Bruce Epstein has been self-employed for many years. He started his business career in 1976 by taking over the family wholesale tobacco distributorship. M & S Candy & Tobacco grew from 5 to 35 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 1,000+ 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.
Michael D. Hanson wears many hats in his work with The HeArd. Active in creative American Sign Language theatrical arts and storytelling interpretation since 1986, he joined The HeArd in 2013, bringing his wealth of experience in mainstage productions, performing arts projects, and ASL storytelling and poetry performance. He recently accepted a buyout from a social expression company after 28 years, in order to pursue what is close to his heart: teaching, fine arts (painting and sculpting), theatre, creative consulting, and directing graphic arts. Within The HeArd he fills critical roles, behind the scenes as creative sign consultant, and also on the stage as performing interpreter. In August 2019 Theatrical Interpreting Services of Cleveland, Inc., the non-profit organization that oversees the HeArd, voted him on as a board trustee and was thrilled when he accepted.
Rachel Hollander (aka Rev Rachel) has returned to Cleveland after many years of traveling. Her relationship with ASL began back in 1978, volunteering at Fairmount Theatre of the Deaf. She returned to FTD in 1993 as an actor and stayed on when the company became Cleveland SignStage Theatre. In her eight years there, Rachel worked as an actor, teacher, interpreter, assistant to the artistic director, tour manager, and all other duties as assigned! Since 2000, her interpreter resume has grown to include rock bands, Broadway tours, comedians, spoken word artists, and political activists.
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 Playhouse Square, 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 Midsummer 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.
Jenine Mahendranath is The HeArd's newest member, as its second creative sign consultant! In 2016 The HeArd was thrilled to showcase the contribution of her unique talents to its interpreted performance of William Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost at Hanna Theatre. Her work enriches The HeArd with a lifetime of experience in American Sign Language, from her youth as a student at Model Secondary School for the Deaf on the campus of Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., to her position today as a Professor of American Sign Language, Deaf Culture, and Deaf History at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio. Her work solidifies the integrity of our script translations and performance, while her effervescent sense of humor infuses our rehearsals with laughter.
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 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 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, became certified to educate the Deaf at National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, NY, and taught American Sign Language at Lakeland Community College. Along with theatrical interpreting, she is also a teacher of elementary school students. Jocelyn has interpreted performances at Cain Park, The Fine Arts Association in Willoughby and the Great Lakes Theatre Festival.
Jean Mendis has had a love for theater since she was a little girl. As she became involved with the Deaf community, she continued attending theatrical shows around Northeast Ohio and in 2019 accepted an invitation by Theatrical Interpreting Services of Cleveland (TISC, Inc.) to join on as a board trustee. She further expanded her bilingual-bicultural knowledge in 2020 through intensive training in a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) program. Today, she provides American Sign Language consultation for interpreted performances and remains constantly engaged with community projects while developing new ideas for Deaf theater in Ohio.
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, and a vibrant career as a portrait painter.
Peter Parsons is joined the HeArd in 2018, although he had been interpreting shows with us for many years before that. He is a talented young man, well-known and admired in our community for both skills and heart, and you will find him interpreting in just about every setting around Northeast Ohio. Stay tuned for his full bio coming soon!
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 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 formerly served 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.
Colleen Ticherich has a rich history in theater starting with a bachelor's degree in vocal music performance, and into her career today, where she maintains a strong identity as an interpreter working in the community and classrooms of northeast Ohio. She is involved with NAIE (Nat’l Assoc of Interpreters in Education) Ambassador for Ohio - fighting for increased skills and standards for interpreters and advocate through Ohio Hands and Voices. When she began as our 2015 HeArd understudy, she worked behind the scenes in Dirty Dancing, The Tempest, and The Producers. Seeing her talent and commitment to accessible theater, the HeArd quickly invited her to continue working with us as a performing interpreter. She has since lit up our performances in countless HeArd productions!
Ariana Zimcosky joined the group after successfully completing her understudy program with us 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, and since then continues to creatively illuminate her characters on the stage of HeArd performances