The California Academy of Sciences presents an evening of whales. Bill Keener and Jonathan Stern from the Golden Gate Cetacean Research organization talk with Robert Brill, the set designer from the San Francisco Opera, which recently staged the opera Moby-Dick. Also joining the conversation is Samuel Otter, a professor of English at U.C. Berkeley, Jonathan Stern who studies whales, and Bill Keener, an environmental lawyer and the former executive director of the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.
His designs for Broadway include Assassins (Tony nomination), as well as the set and club design for the critically acclaimed revival of Cabaret, at both the KitKatKlub and the legendary Studio 54 in New York and for all US and International Tours. His other Broadway credits include A Streetcar Named Desire, Laugh Whore, The Good Body, Anna in the Tropics, Design for Living, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Buried Child, The Rehearsal and the upcoming revival of The Wiz. His other credits include Sinatra: His Voice, His World, His Way (Radio City Music Hall); On The Record (Disney Theatrical); The Wiz (La Jolla Playhouse); Wozzeck (San Diego Opera); L'Incoronazione di Poppea (Chicago Opera Theatre); American in Paris (Boston Ballet); La Bohème (Minnesota Opera); The House of Martin Guerre (Goodman Theatre and Canadian Stage Company); A Clockwork Orange (Steppenwolf Theatre); Anna Deavere Smith's Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 (Mark Taper Forum and McCarterTheatre); The Laramie Project (presented in New York, Denver, Berkeley, La Jolla); John Steinbeck's East of Eden (Western Stage); and the 136th edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. He has designed for Lincoln Center Theatre, The Whitney Museum of American Art, NYSF/Public Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, The Women's Project, The New Group, New York Stage and Film, The Vineyard, Playwrights Horizons, Atlantic Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, Roundabout Theatre Company, Huntington Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, Cleveland Playhouse, The Guthrie, Denver Center Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, South Coast Repertory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Old Globe, American Conservatory Theater and numerous other theaters around the country. He is a founding member of Sledgehammer Theatre and recipient of the 2004 Michael Merritt Award for Excellence in Design and Collaboration.
Bill's experience includes work as a field observer (vessel-based transects, photo-documentation and data recording) for the harbor porpoise population study in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary conducted by Cascadia Research Collective from 1987-1989. He is an environmental lawyer and the former Executive Director of the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, a facility dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of sick and injured pinnipeds, as well as the rescue of live stranded small cetaceans.
Samuel Otter has taught in the English Department at the University of California at Berkeley since 1990. His research and teaching focus on nineteenth-century United States literatures. He is particularly interested in the relationships between literature and history, the varieties of literary excess, and the ways in which close reading also can be deep and wide. He has published Melville's Anatomies (1999), in which he analyzes Melville's concern with how meanings, particularly racial meanings, have been invested in and abstracted from human bodies. In his recent book, Philadelphia Stories, he examines the narratives about race, character, manners, violence, and freedom that unfold across a range of texts written in and about Philadelphia between 1790 and 1860. In recent years, he has taught courses on "Transatlantic Literature," "Melville's Forms," Edgar Allan Poe, and Henry James.
Jon studies minke whales in the Northeast Pacific Ocean, and has conducted research on killer, pilot, fin, humpback and gray whales, as well as bottlenose dolphins. He served as the Conservation Chair for the National Board of Directors for the American Cetacean Society. He currently teaches in the Biology Department at San Francisco State University and is adjunct professor at Texas A&M University. An ecologist by training, he studies the role of marine predators in ocean ecosystems.