#LiveBrave- share your story to stop the stigma


The Northwest Indiana Excellence in Theatre Foundation is proud to announce that Valparaiso has been selected to host the Chicagoland This is My Brave live event in May 2016. This is My Brave is a live storytelling event where real people tell real stories about their real life mental health issues. Billed as #StorytellingSavesLives, This is My Brave seeks to remove the stigma of mental illness, open a dialog, and create opportunities for people to #LiveBrave and thoughtfully engage around the topic of mental health.

This is My Brave, in conjunction with the Northwest Indiana Excellence in Theatre Foundation, selected the Memorial Opera House in downtown Valparaiso as its 2016 Chicagoland venue. Held previously in New York City, Boston, Washington DC, Los Angeles, and Iowa City, it is now making its way to the Chicagoland area. The event will be held May 19, 2016 at 7 pm. Tickets are available at http://nwitimb.bpt.me for $20 in advance or $25 at-the-door (if available). This show has sold out venues in each of its previous cities.

Auditions were held in February and 14 cast members were selected to tell their personal stories of living with or loving someone with mental illness. Their stories, narratives, poems, and essays cover the spectrum of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, OCD, bi-polar disorder, suicide attempts, PTSD, and more. Due to the nature of some of these traumatic stories, we are rating this show PG-13. For more info on each cast member, scroll below.

“May is Mental Health Awareness month and this event we hope will be a signature event for our community bringing together members of the public, healthcare, support agencies, community leaders, and those that engage regularly with these issues: psychologists, psychiatrists, law enforcement, school counselors, therapists, special education professionals, pastors, chaplains, and emergency medical providers. We want to spark a conversation that needs a spotlight,” said Becky Jascoviak, NIETF President.

Sponsorships of this important community event are being sought. You can download a sponsorship packet here: TIMBSponsorshipPackages.

For more information contact Becky Jascoviak at president@dev.nietf.org.

2016 This is My Brave Chicagoland Cast

Stephanie Bizzle

Stephanie Bizzle is a self-described “Jacqueline-of-all-trades” who lives in Gary, Indiana. She writes, paints, and occasionally acts when the opportunity arises. When she’s not dazzling people with useless trivia, Stephanie likes mudslides and short walks from the living room to the kitchen.

Ben Boruff

Ben Boruff is a high school English teacher in Valparaiso, Indiana. Ben grew up in Indianapolis and attended Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Ben spends his free time watching indie films, reading comics, eating cheesecake, and listening to Bob Dylan and Avril Lavigne. Ben also likes to travel overseas. So far, he has visited Germany, Vietnam, South Africa, and the Philippines.

Beth Christie

Beth Christie For the better part of my near 60 years of life I have suffered from one form or another of anxiety, depression and trauma. After a severe breakdown last year, I am finally JUST receiving help with medication- which was the long missing element necessary for finding balance from my now identified mood disorder. No matter what you have been through, it’s never too late to find hope, healing and health.

Lorraine Cooper

Lorraine Cooper is a Chicago-based digital marketer by trade and a dreamer by calling. Some might say she’s witty, curious, and fanciful. She would say she’s just trying to learn what it means to be true to herself.  When her head is not stuck in the clouds, you’ll find her nosing through three to four books, curating household gadgets that she’s not likely to use, trying to keep her unsolicited opinion to herself, experimenting with something in the kitchen, and waiting for God to fix her biological clock. She’s always wanted to be a runner, but hasn’t been able to excel past a respectable walk-jog. Good thing there’s still time for ‘always’ to come to pass.

Marlon Deleon

Marlon Deleon Raised in California, Marlon is a US Navy veteran with a background in the performing arts. What started as adventures in orchestra and choir in elementary grades branched into theatre in high school. After serving on a submarine and receiving an honorable discharge as a disabled veteran, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts with an emphasis in directing from California State University, Long Beach before moving to South Bend, Indiana. His love for adventures, art, and storytelling has led him to develop two active blogs and writing his first book. On May 19th he will share some of his story regarding PTSD, depression, stereotypes, and self-acceptance.

Kristin Duncan

Kristin Duncan is from Lafayette IN. She works as a therapist with children with Autism. Kristin was diagnosed with Bipolar, Anxiety and PTSD 3 years ago. She’s excited to be sharing her story for the first time publicly through This Is My Brave.

Paul Fogleman

Paul Fogleman lives in Bloomington, IN with his family. He is a university administrator and advises students who are competing for national scholarships. He was diagnosed with PTSD in 2011 and will talk about his experience treating PTSD.

Jenny Gillette

Jenny Gillette It’s hard to believe that almost twenty years ago my life almost ended in a very catastrophic way.  No one knew I suffered from bipolar disease until it was almost too late.  I am now telling my story in hopes that others will be able to be brave enough to talk about their fears and struggles and get the help they need before it’s too late for them.

Laura Guill

Laura Guill was born in Angola, Indiana, but after graduating from Valparaiso University with an English teaching degree transplanted to the Gary region, where she now enjoys living next to the beach—the perfect place to walk the dog and the 7-year-old son.  She loves the academic life and enthusiastically teaches college freshman composition, having earned her master’s degree a few years ago.  Less erudite pursuits include binge watching Netflix and crocheting (badly), usually at the same time.

Jerry Jascoviak

Jerry Jascoviak Born and raised in the region, Jerry had theatre instilled into him since birth. He was named after local theatre legend, Jerry Reinhart, and was mentored by he and his wife, Margilee. Jerry went on to earn his BA in theatre from Valparaiso University with a minor in Social Work. Since graduating, Jerry has been on stage in a variety of roles (about 30), directed, and introduced children to the love of theatre through after school drama at Immanuel Lutheran School here in Valpo. Playing a character, being someone else for a few hours is what has helped Jerry walk through his own dark times of depression, anxiety, and panic. Tonight what you see is all Jerry and all real.

Cathy Osborne

Cathy Osborne is a writer, artist and animal lover from Griffith, IN and Chicago, IL. She is an outpatient therapist who uses the expressive arts and therapy dogs in her work. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Psychology from Meridian University in Petaluma, CA. Cathy appreciates humor, the color red, rocks from the beach, and the Cookie Monster.
Breanne Pynakker

Breanne Pynakker just moved back from California and is excited to be part of the TIMB Chicagoland cast. She’s thankful for this opportunity to combine her interest in theatre with her desire to open up dialogue about mental illness. Her other interests include writing, singing, biking, and various forms of artistic expression. She hopes sharing about her experiences will free others to speak about their own struggles and find safe people in their lives who can encourage and support them.

Paige Shimer

Paige Shimer is 17 years old and lives in Valparaiso, Indiana. She’s originally from Memphis, Tennessee where she learned more about Elvis and barbecue than any one person really needs to know. Her biggest goal at the moment is to go to college, but she hasn’t decided where yet. Struggling with anxiety and panic since she was 5, she is incredibly excited for the chance to speak out about her struggle and hopes it will inspire others to continue to live brave.


Stephanie Stalbaum is pleased to be a part of the cast for Chicagoland’s TIMB. When she is not working, cleaning, acting, cooking, being a mom, painting or practicing her sweet ninja skills, Stephanie suffers from anxiety and OCD. She hopes that this show will help others stuck in the shadows of mental illness.