Friday, December 1, Mixed Blood welcomes esteemed writer, lawyer, and school board member Ellie Krug in conversation with Hal Sansone for our final Zealous Hellions of the year!

Mariology deconstructs deep-seated learning to inspire imagination about the Virgin Mary’s roles in systems of gender, power, and faith, to open possibilities for liberation. Join us for this 2023/24 season opener. October 27 – November 12, 2023

12 communities, 3 acts, 1 venue!! The entire summer has been leading up to this: each performance created by the 12 artists from each of the 12 Twin Cities communities is coming to the festival August 19-20 at Mixed Blood.

After a 20-month national search, the Mixed Blood Theatre Board of Directors is thrilled to announce that director/playwright/organizer/activist Mark Valdez will become the organization’s second artistic director.

Valdez has directed nine shows at Mixed Blood, served as a Resident Artist for two spans, and has participated in planning and producing for this progressive institution. His forté is partnering with communities, organizations, civic institutions, and others, using theatre and creative tools to address community needs and lift up community voices and stories.

“We are thrilled that Mark will become our next Artistic Director,” said Tabitha Montgomery, former Board President, Interim Managing Director, and a member of the Succession Planning Committee. “His creative dexterity, curiosity, and approach will help the organization take new strides in activating champions for equity and justice on and off the stage.”

Reuler, who founded Mixed Blood in 1976 at the age of 22, is equally enthusiastic about the choice of Valdez. “Mark has been a resident artist, guest director, playwright, organizer, advisor, confidant, and friend to Mixed Blood and me since 2006,” he says. “His belief in what theatre can be – as an art form, tool for social change, and instrument for justice – aligns with Mixed Blood’s new strategic direction and our worldview. I can’t wait to see how this progressive organization will evolve under his leadership.”

About Mark Valdez

Mark Valdez has served as Associate Director of Cornerstone Theater Company, an ensemble creating play in, with, and for communities across the nation. He also headed Cornerstone’s Institute and now is its Board Chair. For seven years, he was the Executive Director of the Network of Ensemble Theatres (NET), a national alliance of artists and organizations committed to collaborative creation. He grew NET from 50 to 400 members and its budget from $60,000 to $900,000.

Valdez is this year’s recipient of SDC’s Zelda Fichandler Award, Americans for the Arts’ second Johnson Fellowship for Artists Transforming Communities, and the California Arts Council’s 2021 Legacy Artist Fellow. He was director of Mixed Blood’s production of Vietgone, which received an Ivey Award for its ensemble work in 2018. In partnership with ashley sparks, he created, wrote, and directed Mixed Blood’s most recent work, The Most Beautiful Home…Maybe, about housing insecurity. That show is slated for runs in Los Angeles, CA; Syracuse, NY; and Mesa, AZ.

Valdez has authored and directed plays for Trinity Rep, The Alliance Theatre, Native Voices, Teatro Vision, East West Players, ChildsPlay, the Center Theatre Group, and more. He has served on the board of Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and the Performing Arts Alliance as well as directed at numerous colleges and universities. He holds an MFA in directing from the University of California, Irvine.

As a consultant, Valdez has partnered with a variety of institutions interested in engagement and creative community development, including Americans for the Arts, Center for Performance and Civic Practice, Opera America, EMC Arts, LISC, the Irvine Foundation, Community Engagement and the Arts, and Arizona State University.

“Mixed Blood has been an artistic home for me, and I’ve had the privilege to see, first-hand, how the company lives its values of equity and inclusion,” said Valdez. “I am eager to build on this work. We can use the tools and skills of theatermaking—imagination, consensus building, meaning making—to support our communities and our peoples. Mixed Blood’s new strategic direction asks us do just that. This is the work I care most about and I’m lucky to have found a home in Mixed Blood that shares these priorities.”

About the Search Process

Seven board members, led by Artistic Logistics of Georgia, comprised a Succession Planning Committee that created a plan, raised funds, and conducted an extensive nationwide search for the Artistic Director. In addition, Seema Sueko (then Deputy Artistic Director at Arena Stage), Michael Rohd (founder and former Artistic Director of Sojourn Theatre), Laura Zabel (Executive Director of Springboard for the Arts), and Michael John Garces (Artistic Director of Cornerstone) participated in the interview process.

Valdez will be in residence part-time March-May 2022 and begin full-time June 6, 2022. Reuler’s final day will be July 6, such that his tenure spans 2-2-76 to 7-6-22. Valdez will curate programming and the budget for 2022-23.

An image of young Jack Ruler in a tuxedo shirt


We are deeply grateful and honored to receive the award of The Outstanding Theatre by The National Theatre Conference for the year 2021.

Read more about the award here. 

A futurist is not someone with a crystal ball, but rather someone who recognizes trends and acts in anticipation. Last May, we at Mixed Blood produced a wild extravaganza entitled AUTONOMY. It featured a threatened DACA Dreamer, a would-be global pandemic, and corporate greed as well as the benefits of autonomous vehicles. A year later we’re experiencing a massive pandemic, the Supreme Court has ruled protectively on DACA this week, corporate taxes were cut by 12%, and climate change is a year closer to planetary catastrophe.

In March of 2019, we produced ROE, about the complicated person who was the Roe of Roe v Wade. Within 65 days of our closing, 13 states had passed laws that limited reproductive rights as that landmark Supreme Court ruling got challenged repeatedly in 2019.

In March COVID-19 closed our hit musical, INTERSTATE, in which an activist trans spoken word artist and lesbian singer-songwriter trumpet their politics across America. Last week SCOTUS ruled that employers cannot discriminate against trans and LGBTQIA employees.

Our neighborhood – Cedar Riverside – was greatly impacted by President Trump’s travel bans on predominantly Muslim countries, including Somalia. SCOTUS shot that travel ban down twice.

We will marshal our artists to mobilize people to register to vote, to vote, and to impact the outcome of the 2020 national election, an outcome that will no doubt be challenged legally and arrive at the Supreme Court.

Lots of theaters refer to their work as “ripped from the headlines,” but at Mixed Blood our work isn’t successful if there isn’t a call to action for its participants, including its viewers. Is our work the bellwether of what will be heard by the High Court? Better keep coming to find out!

-Jack Reuler

Text: Never Underestimate the Activist Artist over an image of the Firehouse

My family has lived in the City of Minneapolis since the 1880s. For decades those five generations were a great source of pride. On the block on which I work (at Mixed Blood) are 5000 people, most of whom have been Minneapolitans for less than twenty years. Of that I am even more proud. I live a dozen blocks from 38th and Chicago. While not in Minnesota, my cousin Michael Reuler is a proud police officer and I am proud of him.

So I take the death of George Floyd very personally. Not in my city! Not in my

We at Mixed Blood are going to prove to the powers-that-be that they were mistaken not to deem the arts, theater, or Mixed Blood essential in this time of pandemic, We are going to commission artists as truth sayers to use their art to speak their truths. We are going to prod activists to be active and give them the forum to do so. We are going to be voices in the ears of policy makers and service providers to do better. Look for us to be referees of racism, calling foul wherever we see it. Watch us seek appointments on commissions and task forces (including PACC and OPCR) and vote for us when we run for office. And better get there early because we’re going to pack the court rooms and
hold justice accountable. Above all, never underestimate the activist artist – we are not just the conscience of this community, but also the spark plugs of remedy. I considered Jerry Haaf, Jamar Clark, Philando Castile, and George Floyd to be my neighbors.

Don’t mar Minneapolis – the artivists of Mixed Blood will hold you accountable.

-Jack Reuler

Artistic Director

Mixed Blood Theatre Company