THEATER | Mixed Blood Theatre announces free tickets for all

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Mixed Blood Theatre is offering free tickets to all of their main stage productions next year as part of their new Radical Hospitality Programming, beginning September 16. The free tickets will be available first come/first serve at the door. For people wanting to reserve tickets in advance, there will be a $15 admission fee, and people will still be able to buy season tickets.

“It’s not pay what you can,” said Jack Reuler, artistic director of Mixed Blood, “It’s free.” It’s been an idea that Reuler has wanted to put in place for some time, and has been working with Mixed Blood’s board into put the plan into place.

“It’s not that different from things you know about,” Rueler said. For example, people can go and see masterpieces at Minneapolis Institute of Art and other similar institutions. 

Ron McKinley, president of Mixed Blood’s board of directors, said the board has been working hard for the past three years to work on a committee structure that feeds the board information about governance. The biggest issue in the last year has been the discussion about radical hospitality. “At almost every meeting, we’ve challenged each other until we’ve owned this concept,” McKinley said. “People who have been supporters of the theater need to be our allies. This is a new life in Mixed Blood. We’re offering access to a theatre in a way that no one else has ever done.”

“It’s scary for some,” said board member Yolanda Cotterall. “It’s a challenge. We need to be replacing revenue stream that would in the past be coming from ticket sales. But we believe there are great opportunities. We are saying if we want to produce community changing theater, but half of our community can’t because of finances and obstacles—that’s a problem. A lot of us in the theatre community get comps. But the average person doesn’t get comps.” 

The first season of Radical Hospitality will be funded by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. After that, the organization plans to fund the program with individual, corporate, and philanthropic sponsorships. “This is a departure from the norm,” Reuler said. “We now seek funds to subsidize our users. Finances are but one barrier.” 

Rueler said that in no way will the Radical Hospitality affect the quality of the performances. He also said he was thrilled with the response from unions and literary agents, who would normally work with a percentage.

Next year’s season is called Revolutionizing Access; it includes 17 shows. There will be a festival of disability plays, plus three other main stage shows, six touring productions. The other of the seventeen shows did not appear to be announced yet. In addition to the Radical Hospitality Program, the theatre will continue its tradition of people with difference coming together to overcome artificial barriers, according to Reuler.

For their Center of Margins festival (November 11-27), Mixed Blood will be presenting My Secret Language of Wishes by Cori Thomas (who wrote Pa’s Hat, which was presented by Pillsbury House last year); On the Spectrum, by Ken LaZebnik, a love story between someone who has autism and someone who has Asperger’s; and a third, unannounced play starring Alexandria Wailes.

Sally Wingert will be starring in Crashing the Party by Josh Tobiessen, a world premiere that the actress first read when she participated in a reading of it in New York. She loved the play so much she brought it to Reuler and he put it on the season. It will be presented February 10- March 4. 

The other two main stage shows will be Neighbors, by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, which runs September 16-October 9; and Learn to be Latina, by Enrique Urueta, which runs April 20-May 13.

In July, Mixed Blood will be presenting The Kids Are All Right, a production of the Cedar-Riverside program, in collaboration with Bedlam Theatre. The play is by, about, and for East African residents of the West Bank. The play was developed through story circles over the past fall and winter, providing material for the play, which runs July 23 and 24 at 7 p.m. at the Cedar Cultural Center.

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