There’s nothing quite like the theater. Attending a live performance is not only great entertainment; it can transport an audience to another time and place for a precious few hours.
What do Danny Glover, Benjamin Bratt and Denzel Washington have in common? Besides being award-winning actors, all three attended the conservatory at American Conservatory Theater. (More local trivia: Glover and Bratt are San Francisco natives.) The acting school, which serves 3,000 students every year, is one part of the venerable ACT. The theater opened in San Francisco in 1967. Something to anticipate in the new season: “Higher,” about two architects competing to design a memorial in Israel.
Berkeley Rep has had an extraordinary string of successes in the last six years. Six shows developed there have ended up on Broadway, seven have gone off-Broadway, and two were turned into movies. At Berkeley Rep “there’s this Bay Area mentality,” says Terence Keane, director of public relations. “The adventurous nature has supported us.”
In its 41st season in Silicon Valley, TheatreWorks is still breaking new ground in show business. A balance of dramas and musicals keeps audiences entertained. Shows are staged at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts and Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto. “One of the major focuses of the company is on new work,” says Robert Kelley, artistic director. “That’s extraordinarily resonant in Silicon Valley.”
With a house seating fewer than 300 people, shows at the Marin Theatre Company are intimate experiences. Artistic director Jasson Minadakis and producing director Ryan Rilette have infused the company with new life. The theater staged the world premiere of “9 Circles,” which went on to win the prestigious Steinberg Award.
American Conservatory Theater
TheatreWorks Mountain View
Marin Theatre Company
The Bay Area is rich with museums and exhibitions that offer something for everyone, whether your interest is art, history, science — or all three.
Since 1895, the de Young Museum has given San Francisco residents and visitors the opportunity to view works by world-renowned artists. Since the rebuilt museum opened in Golden Gate Park in 2005, “we have been able to mount exhibitions that show the range of art history, with masterpiece artworks from museums around the world,” says Robert Futernick, associate director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Current and upcoming exhibits feature Anatolian weaving, Renaissance painters from Venice and works by Picasso.
With more than 1.8 million artifacts and collections celebrating art, history and science, the Oakland Museum of California is dedicated to documenting the history of our state. Since opening in 1969, it has featured exhibits on the American Indians who first inhabited California, art from the Gold Rush and much more. In spring 2012, a new gallery will showcase California’s diversity in the natural world.
Featuring 24 galleries and subjects ranging from ancient Egypt and the Renaissance to the 21st century, the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University offers an admission-free experience for art lovers. “We do a lot of outreach to local communities,” says public relations assistant manager Margaret Whitehorn. The museum also has the largest Rodin bronze collection outside of Paris, and in the fall will have an exhibition about Rodin’s influence on American artists.
Interactive exhibits help kids who visit the Bay Area Discovery Museum to understand and be a part of the world around them. Hands-on science, art and history exhibits are augmented with performances, festivals and special events, designed to teach children to be responsible, creative citizens. “We’re all about nurturing children’s creativities,” says Jennifer Caleshu, director of communications. The Wave Workshop recreates the habitat under the Golden Gate Bridge and teaches children about the science behind the choppy waters.
de Young Museum
Oakland Museum of California
Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University
Bay Area Discovery Museum
From the yad we use to read the Torah to the candlesticks passed down through the generations, Judaica helps to express our Judaism through sculpture, painting, metalworking and weaving.
The work of metal artist Aimee Golant has been taken into space — twice. Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut, selected a barbed-wire mezuzah Golant made in remembrance of the Holocaust to take on his trip into orbit. “He was looking for something to symbolize the Holocaust,” says Golant, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, noting that Ramon’s mother and grandmother also were survivors. (Ramon was killed in the fatal Columbia mission in 2003; his friend, fellow astronaut Mike Massimino, later took a replica of Golant’s mezuzah into space.)
Jodi Paley, winner in the Peninsula/South Bay, first discovered a love for weaving while on her honeymoon in New Mexico. It wasn’t until 2004 that she started treating it as more than a hobby. Three years later, after assisting the weaving teacher at her daughter’s school, Paley left to concentrate on her own work. She has focused on designing and creating tallitot. “I fall in love with each project as I’m working on it,” she says. “Now I’m just waiting for these kids to grow up a bit more so I can see their tallit used for a chuppah.”
Aimee Golant Metal Art Judaica
Jodi Paley Stich-te Naku Weaving