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World Premiere

VETERANS’ VOICES Director: Julie Ritchey Primary Adapters: Erica Aten+, Brittney Briggs+, Danielle Carter+, Esther Cynthia+, Andrea Gaspar+, Caroline Golko+, Kristen Gonzalez+, Courtney Greynolds+, Jamie Johnson+, Dawn Mitchell+, Brighid O’Shaughnessy*, Mavis Ring+, Julie Ritchey, Heather Roberts+, Tracie Rouse+, Kelsea Schneider+ & Jennifer Welter+ Additional Script Devisers: Brenda Barrie^, Jared Fernley*, Andrea Gaspar+, Maura Kidwell*, Ron Rains*^, Kelley Ristow, Scott Stangland^ & Kati Sweaney Performers: Antonia Arcely, Len Bajenski, Heather Bodie, Walter Brody, Jennifer Mathews*, Adam Poss*^ & TayLar^ Producer: Brighid O’Shaughnessy* Production Manager: Jennifer Shine* Stage Manager: Deanna Fiorentino * Sound Designer: Daniel Carlyon Lighting Designer: Claire Chrzan

*Erasing the Distance ensemble member or artistic associate ^Member of Actors’ Equity Association +Student of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Performed at Filament Theatre, 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago IL Veterans’ Voices is supported in part by The MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and ETD’s Veterans’ Voices Kickstarter Campaign.

Sponsored by:

Veterans’ Voices


BIOGR APHIES Antonia Arcely (Vanessa) is overjoyed to be making her debut with Erasing the Distance. Stage performances include sketch comedy and improv with ¡Salsation! and The ESL Players (founding member) and stand-up comedy (The Improv and Zanies). Tremendous gratitude to God for His blessings and Paonessa Talent for their representation. Len Bajenski (David) was last seen on the big screen in U.S. Marshalls, Payback and Public Enemies. He was last seen on stage in Guinea Pig Solo, Boy Gets Girl and Legion. Len has several T.V. credits. Len would like to thank Erasing the Distance for casting him with such a fine cast. Len would like to dedicate this show to David and all Vietnam veterans. Heather Bodie (Ashley) is an actor, improviser and singer, born and raised in the Chicagoland area. She performs often with her folk rock band MIDWEST. Heather is the Associate Artistic Director and one of the co-founders of The Fine Print Theatre Company. Walter Brody (Paul) has worked in radio, multimedia and taught acting at Wayne State and Illinois State. As a company member of The Illinois Shakespeare Festival he played Brutus in Coriolanus, Dull in Love’s Labour’s Lost, and Roderigo in Othello. Other favorite roles: Rumors (Lennie), You Can’t Take it With You (Mr. Kirby), Proof (Robert) and Oklahoma (Ali Hakim). Chicago audiences have seen him 2

Erasing the Distance

as Gramp in Petrified Forest (Strawdog), Nonno in Night of the Iguana (Artistic Home) and Andy in Lovers (City Lit). Jennifer Mathews (Swing) is an ensemble member with Erasing the Distance and also serves as their Communications Director. She is also Communications Director for Adventure Stage Chicago. Jennifer would like to thank all the active military, veterans, and their families for their amazing dedication and sacrifice. And a special thank you to her father Larry for his military service…and for being an awesome dad. Adam Poss (Swing) is an ensemble member with Erasing the Distance, where he has appeared in many productions. Theater: Teddy Ferrara, A Christmas Carol and dark play…or stories for boys (Goodman Theatre), Oedipus el Rey (Victory Gardens Theatre), Animals Out of Paper (Steppenwolf Garage), The Beats (16th Street Theater), Scorched and The Lake Effect (Silk Road Rising), and Antebellum (Athenaeum Theatre). TV: “The Chicago Code,” “The Mob Doctor,” “Chicago Fire,” and “Shameless.” TayLar (Nicole) is excited to make her ETD debut. Other credits include The Convert, Mary, Ruined, The Cook (Goodman Theatre); Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (Goodman/Congo Square); Blues for an Alabama Sky (Eclipse) and Ruined (Manhattan Theatre), in addition to credits at Collaboraction, Writer’s, Steppenwolf, Black Ensemble, Bailiwick and ETA. She thanks God, her family and friends for their unwavering love and support.


c o n t.

Julie Ritchey (Director) has worked with Erasing the Distance for the past two years as a volunteer and story shaper, and is honored to be on board to direct Veterans’ Voices.  Julie is a founding member and Artistic Director of Filament Theatre Ensemble, located in Chicago’s Portage Park neighborhood.  Select Chicago directing credits include Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice, Choose Thine Own Adventure, Arlecchino’s Odyssey, The Drawer Boy, Hank Williams: Lost Highway, and Six Impossible Things.  Her work has also been seen at Writers Theatre, Boise Contemporary Theater, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Summer Theatre of New Canaan, Prologue Theatre Company, and more. She is a graduate of Northwestern University’s department of Performance Studies, and is a proud member of the American Alliance of Theatre and Education. Deanna Fiorentino (Stage Manager) is very excited to be part of Veterans’ Voices for ETD’s fall season.  Deanna has been part of ETD since 2009 and has participated in numerous productions all over Chicagoland, raising awareness on mental health along the way.  She is incredibly proud of the work ETD does and is incredibly thankful for an organization to bring to life the very real world of mental illness.  She would like to thank her husband, family, and friends for their outstanding support and love over the years. Daniel Carlyon (Sound Design) is a sound designer/composer hailing from New York. Credits include She Kills Monsters (Buzz22 Chicago, Steppenwolf Garage Rep), Hoodoo Love (Collective Theatre Company; BTAA nomination), and the upcoming It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play (Williams Street Rep), for which he will be performing live foley effects. Assistant designer: Immediate Family (Goodman Theatre); Murder for Two (Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Second Stage Uptown) and Disgraced (Lincoln Center Theater). Daniel is an Artistic

Associate with Buzz22 Chicago. www. Claire Chrzan (Lighting Design) is thrilled to be working with Erasing the Distance. Some of her past credits include Harry and the Thief with Pavement Group, Terminus and Speaking in Tongues with Interrobang Theatre Project, In the Heart of America with Theatre Seven, Uncle Bob with Mary Arrchie and Boy Gets Girl with The Raven. Claire is an artistic associate with Interrobang Theatre Project and is serving as production manager for their fourth season. For full resume and photos of her work, please visit Jennifer Shine (Production Manager) is thrilled and honored to be a part of the Erasing the Distance Artistic Ensemble. She has been seen in the ETD production of Finding Peace in This House as Katherine, as well as various productions throughout the Chicagoland area. Jennifer is also very excited to serve as the Production Manager for ETD’s artistic season. Additionally, she has also performed with Paramount Theatre, Sideshow Theatre Company/ Steppenwolf Garage Rep, First Folio Theatre, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, and American Folklore Theatre. Jennifer graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI with a degree in Theatre and Peace & Justice studies.  Brighid O’Shaughnessy (Producer) has acted in, directed, curated or produced every ETD show in the last eight years. Brighid holds a M.A. from DePaul University, where she was granted the David O. Justice award for educating communities about mental health in creative ways. Her experience as a director, actor and teacher committed to social change has spanned over 15 years, including time with the Thresholds Theatre Arts Project, Redmoon’s Dramagirls, and Chicago Public Schools. Veterans’ Voices


A B O U T V E T E R A N S ’ VO I C E S Due to the unwavering support of Dr. Katia Mitova and the diligent commitment of 15 students within The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Veterans’ Voices was born. With the guidance of ETD’s Executive Artistic Director, Brighid O’Shaughnessy, the students began by collecting stories from veterans as well as family members affected by mental health issues. The students were deeply moved by what they heard and felt privileged to help bring these stories to life. They went on to meticulously transcribe the stories word for word and ultimately shape them down into monologues to be performed.  We then brought in a team of artists who combed through the material and using improvisation, scenes and physical imagery work, added more material to what would ultimately become the performance you are seeing tonight.  Finally, thanks to the intelligent vision and sensitive touch of Director Julie Ritchey as well as the fierce commitment and striking talents of our cast, the words began to jump off the page and find voice. We are grateful to each and every one of the people who were part of this process, both those in front of and behind the scenes. We are especially grateful to the storytellers for their courage in sharing, and their commitment to breaking the silence. We are also grateful to you, the audience, for bearing witness. Your willingness to listen changes everything.

A B O U T E R A S I N G T H E D I S TA N C E Erasing the Distance (ETD) is a nonprofit organization that sheds light on mental health issues through theatre. Founded in 2005, ETD uses the power of performance to disarm stigma, spark dialogue, educate, and promote healing surrounding issues of mental health.  ETD collects true stories from people whose lives have been impacted by mental health issues.  We sculpt the stories into theatrical pieces for the stage, which are then performed by our ensemble of professional actors.  So far, ETD has reached over 40,000 audience members. For more information about ETD, please visit

SPECIAL THANKS Erica Aten, Brittney Briggs, Danielle Carter, Stephanie Cojocaru, Pat Curtis, Esther Cynthia, Stephanie Diaz, Andrea Gaspar, Jill Glenn, Caroline Golko, Kristen Gonzalez, Courtney Greynolds, M.J. Hodgins, Jamie Johnson, Bruce Kawasawa, Jule Kucera, Dawn Mitchell, Katia Mitova, Manuel Ortiz, Grady Osten-Garner, Ron Rains, Kelley Ristow, Mavis Ring, Julie Ritchey, Heather Roberts, Tracie Rouse, Kelsea Schneider, Jennifer Shine, Scott Stangland, Shannon Stone-Winding, Jennifer Welter, and everyone at The National Veterans Arts Museum, the Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute and Veterans Life Changing Services. 4

Erasing the Distance


GET CONNECTED Web: Facebook: erasingthedistance. Twitter: Email: Sign up for our email list in the lobby and stay in the loop about all things ETD.

• Share your story. • Volunteer your time. • Bring one of our shows to your community. • Donate! For more information, visit the GET INVOLVED page on our website at

M E N TA L H E A LT H R E S O U R C E S For a comprehensive list of local and national mental health resources, including illnessand age-specific information, please visit the MENTAL HEALH RESOURCES section of our website at

E R A S I N G T H E D I S TA N C E FA M I LY STAFF Brighid O’Shaughnessy Founder/Executive Artistic Director Diana Clegg Managing Director Jennifer Mathews Communications Director Jennifer Shine Production Manager BOARD OF DIRECTORS David Strauss President Ritu Malhotra Vice President Kelly Luchtman Secretary Parren James Treasurer Terence O’Shaughnessy Director

MENTAL HEALTH ADVISORY BOARD Mihaela Campion, MA, LCPC Caren Friedman, LCSW Rebecca Fritz, LCSW Grady L. Garner, Jr., PhD Melinda Gould, PsyD Jamie Pekarek Krohn, LCPC Erin Mason, PhD Lawrence Nash, MD April Porter, LCSW ARTISTIC ENSEMBLE Philip de Guzman Jason Economus Angela Alise Johnson Jennifer Mathews Brighid O’Shaughnessy Adam Poss Ron Rains Jennifer Shine Craig C. Thompson Katie Worthington

ARTISTIC ASSOCIATES Rhonda Marie Bynum Brenda Arellano Kamal Angelo Bolden Wes Clark Stephanie Diaz Amanda Eaton Jared Fernley Deanna Fiorentino Krista Hansen David Hornreich Millicent Hurley Anish Jethmalani Jessica Kadish Maura Kidwell Wannapa PimtongEubanks Chris Popio Amira Sabbagh Meredith Siemsen Dwight Sora

Veterans’ Voices


DONORS We would like to honor all the donors that gave so generously to our Veterans’ Voices Kickstarter Campaign. THANK YOU! SPECIAL THANKS to donors Dedrea Greer and Jule Kucera. ADDITIONAL DONORS Sara and James Abelson Robert Adam Dean Adams Katie Jeep Andre Ewa Antonowicz Carol and James Baker Ellie Barta-Moran Nicole Bernardi-Reis Kenneth Bond Katy Boza Dawn Briskey and Laura Goetz Amber Butler Lara L. Caprini Nicole Carter Mariah Castle Kate Cavataio Diana Clegg and Midge Stocker Mary Colleran Katy Collins Patricia Curtis Albert Dabah Michelle Dahlenburg Paul M. Davis Philip de Guzman Dustin DeMoss Tonya Heiken DePriest Loraine Edwalds and Ruth Clark Eric Eligator Patricia A. Elliott Kathleen Dorr Ferguson Jared Fernley Jennifer Monroe Fliegel Brian Foster Peter Gellatly Skee Goforth Kelly and Mike Goldberg Caroline Golko 6

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Anne and Matthew Good Gail and Jim Hafar Tara Handron Krista Hansen and Charlotte Shuber Sheldon Harris Karen Herold David Hornreich Millicent Hurley and Chuck Spencer Urszula Jablonska Robin Jones Kimbeth and Bernie Judge Kate Kellen Mark Konold William Larkin Michelin Lentino Michaela Lichvanova Kimberly Logan Matthew Lyle Carrie Mereu LaVonne Meyer Mary Hope Mitchell Ellie Barta-Moran Kathy Mountz Alexandra Novakovic Melissa Ockerman Daniel Osborn Michael T. Owens Meghann O’Leary Mary O’Shaughnessy and Charlie Van Gilder Sean Patrick Jamie Pekarek and David Krohn Jason Piccolo Rebecca Pike Paul Quick Lupe Garcia Quiles Ron Rains

Eric and Kari Robbins Colleen and Michael Robson Olivia Jean Rodgers Barbara Madej Roos Tracie Rouse Jessica Alvelo RuizRodriguez Pam Rumancik Joel Sacramento Larry Sellers Catherine Smitko Sue Stangland Cassidy Stirtz David Strauss Eve and Stephen Sutton Bonnie Tamillo Ted Tanner Britni Tozzi Alfred Tsao Daniel Urbina-McCarthy Michelle VanNatta Christopher Weise Jennifer Welter Nancy Williams and Skip Pivar Marvinetta Woodley-Penn Pam and Jamie Young Robby Zar

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Erasing the Distance and its world premiere performance of Veterans’ Voices: Mental Health and the Military.





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Erasing the Distance - Veteran's Voices