The Berkeley Rep, aglow with the success of its latest smash, American Idiot, and from the general recognition of its artistic prowess, is also holding what promises to be an entertaining series of “conversations” hosted by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll.

First up, on November 9, is Pixar‘s Brad Bird (pictured left), the internationally acclaimed director of award-winning movies including Ratatouille and The Incredibles.

Bird also wrote and directed the 1999 feature, The Iron Giant, which in my humble opinion, was superb.

Proving that it’s never too early to follow your passion, Bird began work on his first animated movie when he was just 11. The film brought him to the attention of Walt Disney Studios where, at age 14, he was mentored by Milt Kahl, one of a distinguished group of Disney’s legendary animators known as the “Nine Old Men”.  He is currently preparing his next project, 1906, a live-action film centered on the “Big One” earthquake.

Future conversation guests include several other Berkeleyites, including writers Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, on December 7, author and publisher Dave Eggers on February 2, and journalist and author Scott Rosenberg on March 1. The talks will benefit the academic and financial assistance programs at Park Day School in Oakland.  Tickets ($30 each or $100 for the series) can be purchased online or by calling 510-653-0317.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...