Spotlight • The Nob Hill Gazette

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In honor of Shakespeare Day on April 23rd, we agree that all the world is a stage. Here are some of the Bay Area’s key players—pioneering minds in the arts, education, and climate science—with a behind-the-scenes look at their latest endeavors.

Brenda way

Five years after founding the Oberlin Dance Collective in 1971, while on the faculty at Oberlin College, the artistic director relocated her contemporary dance company to San Francisco—and in many ways never stopped moving. While maintaining Oberlin’s “ethos of inclusion,” Way says, the rebranded ODC troupe boasts one of the largest dance campuses in the West, including a school with about 16,000 students a year, a theater, a dancer clinic and fitness programs. A veteran of international touring, the company recently expanded into digital programming, in what Way calls “a huge improvement.” …You can reach a global audience, and at $10 a ticket, it becomes more accessible.” But as the longtime Oakland resident prepared for her company’s 50+ anniversary gala on April 1 and its Dance downtown Performance series from March 31 to April 10 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Way tells the Gazette, “I think the biggest excitement is that we’re performing live.”

Chris Feld

Though the Stanford University ecologist is known for his research into carbon removal, he says he had “no idea” he would receive the 2022 Japan Prize, which recognizes achievements in science and technology that contribute to peace and prosperity, with an award of 50 million yen (about $438,000). “I think it shows an appreciation that we really do have a climate crisis, and I’m pleased that the focus on solutions is part of the recognition,” he shares. The Portola Valley resident plans to donate “a significant portion” of the award, which he will accept in the presence of Japan Emperor Naruhito Mid-April to conduct research to reduce forest fire risk. As director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, Field is also excited about the launch of the School on Climate and Sustainability this fall: “I’m excited to help make the whole greater than the sum of the parts in this problem area.”

Jessie Fairbanks

The program director since 2021 has been busy putting together the line-up for the latest edition of the SFFILM Festival, which runs from April 21st to May 1st, and took a short break to share impressions of November’s Doc Stories showcase at the Castro Theater – their first live event in many months. “Our audience was so curious and intelligent and playful,” says Fairbanks. “We’ve shown some challenging films and it’s been a very difficult two years, so it was incredible to see audiences getting involved and wanting to learn more.” As a longtime film programmer for the Tribeca Film Festival, DOC NYC and other events, the native of San Diego started her career with documentaries and hopes to produce more in the future. Although she usually watches movies long before they are released, she watches invent Anna — the Netflix series about a woman posing as a German heiress — has been a “guilty pleasure” of late, confides Fairbanks. “It was really nice to see this series in real time with the rest of the nation and the zeitgeist.”

Tim Bond

Two years after taking the helm of TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, founded by his predecessor Robert Kelly In 1970, the artistic director is ready to premiere his first live production on April 6, August Wilson‘s jewel of the ocean. Bond first directed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival 16 years ago, shortly after the playwright’s death. “It has a very special meaning to me because of my long friendship with him,” says Bond, noting that he is “incredibly excited” to re-explore working with him Greta Oglesby, who played soul healer Aunt Ester for his Ashland production, having originated the role for Wilson. Bond, who was last an acting professor at the University of Washington, lived in Sacramento as a teenager and came to San Francisco to see shows at ACT and “hang out with the clowns and street performers,” he recalls. “I always imagined that I would end up in the Bay Area.”

Roberta Zara

When the Portola Valley school district superintendent learned that she had been named Superintendent of the Year for the San Francisco and San Mateo districts in December 2021, “my first reaction was, I don’t feel deserved,” says Zarea. “All the other 24 superintendents are doing the same heavy work and work, so I feel really humbled.” With $49.5 million in ongoing construction projects, Zarea’s two-school district was among the first in California to reintroduce on-campus learning beginning in September 2020 and included a parallel “virtual academy” for those still could not return to the classroom. The Michigan native planned to accept the regional Association of California School Administrators award on March 25 — 11 days after her district became the first in the Bay Area to drop its mask mandate — with the software engineer husband Steven Zarea and school board chairman Kimberley Morris Roses present.

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