A few post-SECONDS thoughts from Artistic Director Jack Reuler

Posted on March 29, 2014

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I forever count my blessings for what I do for a living, and with whom I do it. In the month of March of 2014, Mixed Blood presented 65 performances of nine plays in 31 days, highlighted by “SECONDS.” In the past two weekends a fantastic group of people descended on the Mixed Blood Theatre for “SECONDS”, a festival of four plays that had had one previous production, but with playwrights desiring to continue development on their scripts (and scores).

Those plays included CLOUDLANDS, a musical by Octavio Solis and Adam Gwon that had premiered in 2012 at South Coast Rep, THE SUN SERPENT by José Cruz Gonzalez that had premiered at ChildsPlay in Tempe (AZ) in 2011, SHEDDIN’ by Thomas Jones II that had premiered at Horizon Theatre in Atlanta in 2012, and IN A WORLD CREATED BY A DRUNKEN GOD by Drew Hayden Taylor that had premiered at Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

The four presentations ranged from a lush fully-staged production with a 35-performance run, to a more traditional staged reading with two audiences. All writers were in residence, and the shows were led by directors approved by the scribes. They included Mark Valdez, Rachel Bowditch, and Bill Partlan. The playwrights suggested theatres at which they would like to see their plays land, and artistic directors and decision makers were invited to attend at Mixed Blood’s expense. Ten decision makers attended: Kent Thompson, AD of Denver Center Theatre; Olga Sanchez, AD of Milagro Theatre (Portland, OR); Sam Woodhouse, AD of San Diego Rep; Mark Lutwak of Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park; Sam Roberson, AD of Congo Square (Chicago); Bert Goldstein, Director of Arts and Creativity, Wharton Center (MI); Peter Rothstein, AD Theatre Latte Da (MN), Michael Brindisi, AD of Chanhassen Dinner Theatres; David Saar, AD of ChildsPlay (AZ); John Miller-Stephany, Associate Artistic Director of the Guthrie. At least one artistic director expressed interest in producing or presenting three out of the four plays!

Mixed Blood has been a producer of new work since its 1976 inception. In 1998 we became a founding member of the National New Play Network, dedicated to commissioning, developing, producing, and disseminating new plays. We’ve participated in multiple NNPN Rolling World Premieres via the alliance’s ‘Continued Life for New Plays Fund’. For us, “SECONDS” marks an expansion of the ways in which regional theatres can catalyze productions subsequent to the world premiere.

As with so many of our field’s convenings, the best parts happened between the scheduled events – in restaurants, bars, the hotel and theatre lobbies, at airport gates, and in cars’ back seats – with colleagues becoming friends, with theatres discovering artists, with artists learning about theatre communities, and with the nation being reminded that Minneapolis-St. Paul is the Mecca of the American theatre. I don’t know if there will be a second “SECONDS”, but the first “SECONDS” felt like a personal and professional triumph for all involved. I, for one, am still digesting voluminous culinary intake, as well as the dramaturgical strides the work took, and the response from many new best friends.

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