A vital part of our work is the facilitated discussion following performances, to allow audiences a shared space to process and dialogue about the true stories and topics in the performance. Below is a list of Erasing the Distance facilitators.  Among other commitments, this talented team attend education events throughout the year to continually expand and grow their knowledge of mental health issues and current resources.

Jared Fernley

Jared has been an actor and artistic associate with ETD since 2010, after Brighid spied him playing a mean fiddle in The Grapes of Wrath. In addition to his work as a performer, Jared has served as a story collector and early deviser for Veteran’s Voices and Tell Me What You Remember. Jared has also worked as an ETD teaching artist and facilitator at the middle school and high school level.

Chicago credits include The Diary of Anne Frank (Writers Theatre), The Arsonists, Old Town (Strawdog Theatre Company), The Killing of Michael X (Jackalope Theatre Company), The Burnt Part Boys (Griffin Theatre), Richard II, As You Like It (Two Pence Shakespeare), Exit, Pursued by a Bear (Theater Seven), and FRAT (The New Colony). He earned his BA at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf.

“A special gift of ETD high school performances is the chance it provides to converse openly with young people about mental health and well being. We get to spark insightful, honest conversations that most students aren’t having at that age, and, hopefully, shape the way they will continue that conversation in the future, both with themselves and their peers.” 

Greg Geffrard

In 2015, Greg walked into a room to audition for Ron Rains and Brighid O’Shaughnessy, sat down, started a conversation about personally connecting with the piece he was auditioning with and has been blessed to continue conversing so openly and honestly with everyone he comes in contact with through ETD.

A spoken word poet and teaching artist by trade, Greg is humbled to be surrounded by such compassionate individuals who not only arm themselves with knowledge about the communities they want to engage with but care about each individual they have the ability to reach. Having had the opportunity to perform in Coming Home, he is excited to be part of the facilitator team with Erasing The Distance and looks forward to the continuation of lending his voice and time to bring such vibrant stories to stages and ushering them into their new homes: into the hearts of the audience members in search of a genuine story.

 A native resident of Miami, FL, Greg holds his Masters in Theatre from the University Of Iowa and his Bachelor Of Arts from the University Of South Florida. Since transplanting to Chicago in 2012, he’s been blessed to work at The Goodman, Lookingglass Theatre, Erasing The Distance, Windy City Playhouse, Prologue Theatre, American Theatre Company, Halcyon Theatre, Step Up Productions, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Royal George Theatre and Remy Bumppo Theatre. He is proudly represented by Gray Talent Group and is a proud founding member of the Poetic Forum Collective.

“No matter how many miles you walk in the shoes God gave you, you can never wear out your soul”

Jose Nateras

Originally contacted following a general audition, Jose was excited and inspired by Erasing the Distance’s mission and work. By being able to share the stories of those whose lives have been effected by mental illness and addiction, he’s found himself able to make a tangible difference in the way people see and talk about such important and personally relevant issues. Working as an actor and facilitator with ETD since 2015, Jose is proud to be in such amazing company as the artists who make up Erasing the Distance.

Jose Nateras is a Chicago based writer and actor. A playwright with ALTA Chicago’s Latino Playwright’s Circle: El Semillero; as an actor, Jose has worked with such companies as Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Gift, Manual Cinema, Drury Lane, Griffin Theatre, Steep, Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, Adventure Stage Chicago, The Inconvenience, Buzz22 Chicago, Teatro Vista, and Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, to name a few. TV credits include: NBC’s Chicago Fire. A graduate of Loyola University Chicago, Jose is represented by Gray Talent Group.

Brighid O'Shaughnessy
Brighid O’Shaughnessy is the Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus of Erasing the Distance. Since 2005, she has acted in, directed, devised, or produced every piece that Erasing the Distance has ever brought to life, reaching over 50,000 people across the country. A sought after speaker and workshop leader, she has presented and taught at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Santa Clara University, the Active Minds National Conference, Cathedral Counseling Center and more. Brighid was granted DePaul University’s prestigious David O. Justice Award for her use of theatre to educate communities about mental illness in non-traditional and creative ways. She was also chosen by Extra Mile America as one of 200 heroic leaders in the United States making a difference in their communities and received a 3Arts Vision Award to support her artistic work at Erasing the Distance. Her experience as a director, actor and teacher committed to social change has spanned nearly 20 years, including time co-directing the Thresholds Theatre Arts Project and Redmoon’s Dramagirls, and devising original productions with teens in Chicago Public Schools. She taught acting at Chicago’s Acting Studio (formerly known as the Audition Studio) for 5 years and has acted at such places as Steppenwolf and Victory Gardens. She graduated with a Masters of Arts from DePaul University, a B.A. in Theatre from Santa Clara University, studied extensively with The American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, trained with internationally known activist and artist Michael Rohd, and has done her share of voice-over work and corporate training using theatre.
Jana Ross

Jana is a documentary theatre artist, arts administrator and poet. She is deeply grateful to have joined the Erasing The Distance team, and is excited to come to work each day and take part in both the artistic and administrative spheres of the organization.

She is drawn to perspectives that are underrepresented in mainstream media, with the goal of promoting dialogue across generational, cultural, racial, religious and socioeconomic lines. To that end, she has worked with Actors Theatre Workshop, Touchstone Theatre, Cornerstone Theater Company and American Theatre Company.

She has a soft spot for second-hand objects and everyday language. In her free time, she can be found thrifting, crafting, exercising, trying (burning) new recipes, and performing her narrative poetry around town!

Jacob Watson

Jacob Watson came to ETD as their (first ever!) set designer for the world premiere of Tell Me What You Remember in 2014, and its remount in 2015. He is thrilled to now come on board as an ETD Facilitator, as well.

Recent design credits include: Melancholy Play, Ivanov, and The Language Archive (Piven Theatre Workshop); Moon Shot and The American Revolution (Theatre Unspeakable/Adventure Stage). He has also devised and directed performance work for organizations including Chicago Home Theatre Festival, Redmoon, Shattered Globe Theatre, and Metropolis Performing Arts Center.

In addition to his work onstage, Jacob is an educator specializing in integrated learning, design thinking, and socially-engaged performance. He currently works at the Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP) at Columbia College Chicago, where he manages the expansion of Project AIM (Arts Integration Mentorship), a program that partners K-12 classroom teachers and professional artists in the creation of original, arts-integrated curriculum. His own teaching experience comprises a diverse array of organizations including Albany Park Theatre Project, Goodman Theatre, Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, and Urban Gateways. He is also a founding member and workshop leader with For Youth Inquiry (FYI), a program of the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH), which empowers teachers, health educators, and violence prevention specialists to use participatory, arts-based methods in sexuality education.

Jacob holds a B.A. in Theatre from Northwestern University, where he was awarded the Aurand Harris Award for Excellence in Children’s Theatre.

“As a facilitator and designer for Erasing the Distance, I have appreciated the care and attention it takes to hold space for people’s stories and the important role of the arts as a tool for building empathy and connection. Through performance, our stories transcend our individual lives and become part of a larger, shared experience. For me, this is what theatre has always been about.”

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