Jack Reuler, the Macalester College zoology graduate who started Mixed Blood Theatre as a summer project and then went on to become a legend in the field, will hand over the reins in July 2022, the company has announced.
It will mark a major shift in the landscape as Reuler was one of the few remaining founder/leaders running a Twin Cities theater.
"I spent a career railing against old white guys, then I became one," Reuler said. "But seriously, it's really about Mixed Blood and what's best for the institution. We want to use theater to drive change — to have a sustained relationship to whatever social melees we're tackling."
Under Reuler's leadership, Mixed Blood has been at the vanguard of many of the things that the field came to embrace, from casting to inviting disparate communities into the theater.
The pandemic shutdown of business as usual has given artists, leaders and organizations time to reflect and to reimagine the role of theater in society, said board member Tabitha Montgomery, a former board chair who also has been active in the theater's strategic planning and succession committees.
"Jack has always been ahead of the moment," Montgomery said. "The organization does deep, culturally relevant work and has always believed that everyone's story is worth telling. That is one of his legacies — not appropriating stories but partnering and walking alongside community. Mixed Blood welcomed everybody before that was cool. And will continue to innovate and activate change as part of its mission."
Mixed Blood under Reuler has been visionary in other ways. Eight months before the pandemic shut down the country, the company did a site-specific, car-themed show called "Autonomy" that was set against the backdrop of a pandemic.
"Oftentimes, people think futurists have crystal balls but it's really just recognizing trends," Reuler said.
He is obsessed with numbers and his Mixed Blood career fits almost into a neat palindrome.
"I started my tenure at Mixed Blood on 2-2-76 and will end on 7-6-22, when they announce a new artistic director," he said.
Reuler prefers to look forward rather than back, and he's proud that the theater has been used to address such issues as health care, the legal profession, immigration and race.
"It's been a great career but I don't consider it over. And I think Mixed Blood's best years are yet to come," Reuler said.
Rohan Preston • 612-673-4390