ANIMATE is a fictional, eight-scene moving theatrical experience performed on the Como Zoo grounds. It is free, but reservations (and masks) are required and reservations need to be made at www.mixedblood.com
ANIMATE is a fictional, eight-scene moving theatrical experience performed on the Como Zoo grounds that repeatedly asks the question: “Does the good of the many supersede the good of the individual?” In an extravaganza that begins with a helicopter landing and ends with a sea lion jumping, audiences travel in small groups throughout the mythical Jackson Kennicott Zoo – to the primate house, the giraffe grotto, the big cat building, polar bears, the tropics, and culminate at ] the seal and sea lion habitat- to witness the Twin Cities greatest actors explore race and philanthropy through a lens of species preservation and conservation. The host of characters includes primatologists, zoo directors and curators and keepers, elected officials, activists, and more.
Wealthy philanthropist Preston Davis has made a $40 million gift to the zoo to launch an exhibit that will bring a species back from extinction while attracting thousands of zoo goers and leveraging many millions more for this urban zoo, its city’s schools, its region’s residents, and its area’s businesses. Questionable language from this humanitarian casts doubt on the moral decision to accept the donation, despite its ripple effect of financial benefit and species survival.
Ethical conundrums abound. A decision must be made about an aged giraffe that can go to an unaccredited wildlife preserve, can live out its life at Jackson Kennicott, can be euthanized, or can go to a small accredited zoo whose last giraffe died young. A decision must be made about a pair of gorillas that love one another, but do not breed. Should they happily stay together or should the valuable gene pool contribute to the international species survival plan for these apes? And should millions of public dollars be spent to bring an extinct species from the other side of the planet back from extinction while people are homeless and hungry within blocks of the zoo?
ANIMATE is written by long time Mixed Blood collaborator Ken LaZebnik (author of 2019’s AUTONOMY) after he and Artistic Director Jack Reuler spent a year listening to zoo advocates and detractors. ANIMATE champions zoos as invaluable resources to their regions and the world as bastions of species preservation, conservation, and education.
This production marks Jack Reuler’s final directing project in his 46- year tenure at Mixed Blood. He is joined by a cast of 18, which includes Sally Wingert, Jevetta Steele, Kevin Kling, Regina Marie Williams, Stephen Yoakam, Taj Ruler, Marquetta Senters, Raúl Ramos, Khamara Pettus, Regan Linton, Bruce Young, Kate Fuglei and with special cameos by Don Cheadle, Joe Minjares, and Warren C. Bowles.
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory leadership and staff have been invaluable partners in the development, production, and implementation of this theatrical carousel. This partnership is true to Como’s commitment to free access, so ANIMATE, like the zoo itself, admission to the show is free for all, but reservations are required.
Beyond City, State, and CDC safety protocols, ANIMATE audiences are asked to be masked for the entire 100-minute journey, and comprehensive cleaning and distancing practices will be in place. Smart phones are recommended for anyone wanting to participate in the final decision-making processes!
ANIMATE has one preview, September 16, and opens September 17 for a two-week run, closing September 26. All performances are at 6:30PM. Wheelchairs and scooters are available. Strollers are not available, but you may bring your own.
Reservations can be made at www.mixedblood.com
September 16 6:30PM September 22 6:30PM
September 17 6:30PM September 23 6:30PM
September 18 6:30PM September 24 6:30PM*
September 19 6:30PM September 25 6:30PM
September 26 6:30PM
*ASL interpretation and audio description provided