MINNEAPOLIS: Mixed Blood Theatre has announced that artistic director Jack Reuler will step aside in July 2022 after 45 years leading the company he founded in 1976. A national search for Mixed Blood’s next leader is set to begin in May. The decision follows an almost year-long strategic planning process with the company’s staff and board, which led to the decision “to shift to using art to connect people and organizations, with a goal of advancing dialogue on an issue and a sustained call to action.”
“We will transform how and why we create art,” said Reuler in a statement. “Our goal is to use theatre to disrupt injustice and to more effectively bring about systemic change. While I have a one-line résumé, serving as Mixed Blood’s artistic director for 45 years, it is time in our field and at our organization for me to step aside. Ushering in the next generation of theatre leaders has been a goal and joy of mine. I have so enjoyed theatre as a platform to be a contrarian, provocateur, and rebel, it is time for new blood at Mixed Blood.”
Reuler, who has produced hundreds of shows with the company, said the company is moving from a theatre that addresses social justice issues to a social justice organization that uses theatre as a catalyst for action. The new model, as described by Reuler in a release, will be guided by deep community engagement and rooted in “radical hospitality.” Rather than the company finding and sharing stories it deems topical, the new goal is to use theatre to connect people and organizations to advance dialogue on an issue, inspire civic discourse, and produce a sustained call to action. The plays then will be only one component of a long-term, multi-pronged focus on an issue.
“Mixed Blood is entering a time of dual transition,” said Reuler in a statement, “in leadership, from a founder to the next generation, and in the way it does its work, from a theatre that addresses social justice issues to a social justice organization that uses theatre as a way to catalyze action.”
The first foray into this new model will be Animate, which was developed by Reuler and Ken LaZebnik after a year of listening sessions with zookeepers, animal collection curators, zoo directors, primatologists, and zoo detractors. The play, to be produced at Como Park Zoo this fall, examines race and philanthropy though a lens of species preservation and conservation. Also this fall will be The Most Beautiful Home…Maybe, which is born from resident artist Mark Valdez having workshops and organizing events with artists, developers, policymakers, and housing advocates from around the country, using art to imagine policy possibilities.
“Jack has been an extraordinary leader for more than four decades,” said former board president Tabitha Montgomery in a statement. “He has brought exceptional theatre, talent, and acclaim to the Cedar Riverside neighborhood. We are grateful to have a year to transition to both a new model and new leadership.”
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