Mixed Blood Theatre to offer free admission to all

If <i>Avenue Q</i> had been part of the upcoming Mixed Blood season, patrons could have gone for free.

If Avenue Q had been part of the upcoming Mixed Blood season, patrons could have gone for free.

​Starting September 16 with the opening of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Neighbors, Mixed Blood Theatre will travel into the unknown. Not with its offerings, but with ticket cost. At that point, admission for anyone to all main stage productions will be free.

Dubbed "Radical Hospitality," the plan was unveiled at the end of Monday's season announcement for the 35-year-old West Bank theater.

The idea is to make the theater -- long known for being a home of inclusive productions -- accessible to all potential audiences. Part of the spark came from the sense that Mixed Blood had become an "island" in the neighborhood as the population had changed, says founder and artistic director Jack Reuler. 


It also is intended to remove additional barriers for people to attend the show. Reuler  promises that the quality of the theater -- which has earned numerous  kudos through the past four decades -- will not decrease with the initiative.

Tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis before all shows. To guarantee a seat, patrons can reserve online (for $15) or purchase a season ticket (for $60 to $100). 

Financing for the first year of the program comes from the Minnesota Arts and  Cultural Heritage Fund, while sponsorships will be solicited for future years. Six shows will be onstage during the 2011-2012 main stage season. Other programs will see six shows on tour through Minnesota, a series of four films, and an outreach program for the neighborhood to be created in the summer.

Reuler saw Neighbors in Los Angeles and instantly knew the explosive comedy would be a fit for the theater even though it had several of his least favorite things, including being over two-hours long and having an intermission.

Joining Neighbors this season will be:

Center of Margins, a three-play festival focused on works centered on disability. The pieces will be My Secret Language of Wishes by Cori Thomas; Ken LaZebnik's On the Spectrum, and  a third piece featuring deaf actress Alexandria Wailes that will be announced later. (November 11-27)

Josh Tobiessen's Crashing the Party, featuring Sally Wingert as the matriarch of a multi-generational family. (Opens February 10)

Enrique Urueta's Learn to be Latina, which looks to play with questions of ethnic and sexual identity. The play won the national Great Gay Play contest. (Opens April 20)