Aesthetically Speaking

Mixed Blood opens its 40th season with ‘An Octoroon’

“An Octoroon” opens the 40th season of the Mixed Blood Theatre Company.

The play is a take on “The Octoroon,” a 19th-century melodrama about illicit interracial love. From playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, has been characterized as a funny, disturbing, whirlwind about the antebellum South as well as present-day America. The play delves into the complexity of American identities and their unresolvable connection to America’s legacy of slavery and genocide.

Nataki Garrett, director of Mixed Blood’s 2015 world premiere of “P**** Valley,” as well as the 2011 production of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ “Neighbors,” leads a cast that includes Jamila Anderson, Megan Burns, Jane Froiland, Jon Hegge, Chaz Hodges, William Hodgson, Jasmine Hughes, Eric Mayson, and Ricardo Vazquez.

In addition, Mixed Blood’s 40th season reveals a newly refurbished facility that includes a greatly expanded lobby, more public restrooms and an elevator,

‘”An Octoroon’ is a Melo-Dramatic romance complete with villains, slapstick, vaudeville, with both masked and exposed characters, set on the back-drop of Boucicault’s 19th century play, and it is as much about privilege as it is about race,” said Garrett, the play’s director. “It is universal in its investigation of the desire to understand who you are and who you belong to. It is provocative in that it is a complete reflection of American racial history. It is brilliant because it turns the conversation about race in America upside down, both theatrically and actually, revealing deeper truths in the process, as only the best theatre does.”

“We are dubbing this, our 40th season, as WD40,” said artistic director Jack Reuler. “For me it reflects that Mixed Blood has reduced friction for 40 years, that we’ve produced works of distinction for four decades or, like the product, been a solvent of societal conundrums. The first show that we produced as we introduced ‘Radical Hospitality’ to the world was by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. And so it is fitting that his amazing ‘An Octoroon’ – a 21st Century comedy merging contemporary racial politics with 19th Century mores while shocking, entertaining, and enlightening – is the embodiment of Mixed Blood’s mission, vision, and aesthetic as we reveal a 21st Century renovation of our 19th Century firehouse theater.”

“An Octoroon” runs at the Mixed Blood Theatre Oct. 16 – Nov. 15. Tickets are free and on a first come basis. Patrons can reserve seats for $20. To reserve seats call (612) 338-6131 or email boxoffice@mixedblood.com.

All performances take place in the Alan Page Auditorium in Mixed Blood’s theatre, 1501 S. 4th St., Minneapolis.

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October 1, 2015
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