Terence Keane’s reinventing himself — again.
He recently moved from the East Bay to San Anselmo. He just got married. And he just started a new job as executive director of the Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma.
I’d say that comprises a brave new world.
His brave old worlds were scarcely humdrum. “I had a lot of wanderlust as a young man,” the 42-year-old informed me over breakfast in Hilda’s on San Anselmo Avenue, “and I took a lot of odd jobs.”
And maybe a course in understatement.
He’d worked at a ranch in the Rockies (“in the insanely beautiful middle of nowhere”), a circus in New England, a village dump in the Hamptons, a hostel and organic farm in Ireland, a Fulbright teaching assistant post in Austria, a Louisiana bayou fish-and-wildlife gig, a volunteer position with the American Museum of Natural History, and an island in the Atlantic that’s a breeding colony for seabirds, “a species we brought back from the edge of extinction.”
He’s written — I’m not sure with wit or regret — that he’s never been a rodeo clown.
He spent years as communications director for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, spearheading a million-dollar ad campaign that proclaimed, “M.S.: It’s not a software company.”
Then came eight years at the Berkeley Rep, where, as public relations manager, he publicized 75 shows.
I’d met Terence there and learned he liked doing things in non-standard ways. No surprise he became engaged to Sarah Barker-Ball while vacationing in Iceland.
Nor did it stun me to find he planned to sport cowboy boots at their Rancho Nicasio Bar and Restaurant wedding, a throwback to his ranching.
“There were two main things we wanted for our wedding — to have it outdoors and, since she and I met dancing, a rocking blues band. We [planned to] have both, with musicians I know from jazz school.”
Terence studied blues singing in Berkeley. He still sings, monthly, with buddies in Oakland.
Regarding his outdoorsy bent, it expanded while working at U.C. Davis. He now relishes “kayaking, seeing sea lions, camping at Point Reyes seashore.”
San Anselmo lured the ex-Long Islander when he sought roots. “We count our blessings every day this is where we get to live, like we’ve won the lottery. The area’s beautiful, calm, soothing.”
His sigh was audible.
Afterwards he elaborated: “We live close to Robson-Harrington Park, and it’s a favorite. We often stroll through on our evening walks or on our way to town. I love it when the owls are nesting in the park and you can hear them call one another.”
Sarah ferries to San Francisco, where she’s an environmental-law attorney. “Can you imagine a better way to commute?” Terence asked me rhetorically.
I couldn’t, since I did it for decades.
When queried about his first foray into theater, he replied, “Working the candy counter” in a movie house at 15.
He then cited playing “all the minor parts in Sweet Charity — a waiter, a man with a dog in the park — lots of quick costume changes.”
Oops. “I was a smiley face in pre-school.”
In high school and at the Boston University School of Theatre, he acted, wrote plays and made short films. At Berkeley Rep, he mingled with celebrities.
A favorite? “Maurice Sendak, when we were working on Brundibar. Having grown up with his books, it was a delight to discover he was just as mischievous off the page as on it.”
Terence’s pet recollections, though, “are about behind-the-scenes collaborations with our photographers and the folks in the costume shop and all the other unsung heroes of this business.”
He loves the challenge Cinnabar provides.
He’s emphasizing the business side — fund-raising, administration, marketing — working alongside artistic director Elly Lichenstein.
What attracted him to that non-profit theater, in its 40th year, was its “unique mix of music and theater. They do two plays, two musicals and an opera each season, and a series of concerts in a wide variety of genres — classical, jazz, country, world music. High quality.”
Also, “its long history of educational programs for kids, and that they don’t turn anyone away for lack of funds. Plus, the organization has deep roots in, and a commitment to, the community.
And it’s a chance to grow.
“If they only wanted me to do what I already knew how to do, I wouldn’t want to do it.”