Four years at Butler University to prepare for life in the real world. Four years to figure out what to do for the rest of your life.
Because after graduation, the show must go on.
For two Butler alumni, Michael Burke and Georgeanna Smith, their four years at Butler prepared them to produce a new kind of theatre. Years after graduation, they teamed up to run a theatre company in downtown Indianapolis, with Smith as the executive artistic director and Burke as the associate artistic director and director of marketing.
That company is NoExit Performance, which was founded by Ronald Gilliam and Nicole Gatzimos—also Butler alumni. It strives to break the bonds of the normal theatre routine that Indianapolis usually sees.
“You can see a lot of straight plays in this area,” Smith said. “Indianapolis didn’t need us to do that.”
“We are doing interesting work that is not being seen anywhere else,” Burke said. “And we are doing it well.”
Imagine more: that is what NoExit Performance strives to push audience members to do. Smith said their goal is to come together as a company and ask their audiences to stretch their imaginations while their eyes feast on intriguing visual cues in the NoExit shows.
At Butler, the pair learned to have an eye for art and imagination.
“Butler instilled in me a desire to go out into the world and create my own art,” Burke said. “To not take ‘no’ for an answer until the world took notice.”
Since graduating, Burke has won numerous awards for his directing, designing and acting. He brings all this expertise to NoExit.
“One thing I love about working with Mike is that he is intensely visual,” Smith said. “His great visual eye really translates into his directing.”
This visual eye was showcased in NoExit’s recent show, ‘Macbeth.’ With Burke at the helm, audiences raved about a certain Lady Macbeth scene, Smith said.
Act V, Scene I of Shakespeare’s famous play was the scene that gripped audiences because of its visual metaphor. Lady Macbeth, played by Smith, entered the stage wrapped in a long curtain.
Her famous words “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!” were coupled with a murdered person being dragged by the same curtain Lady Macbeth wore. In essence, she was dragging her guilt behind her.
From studying and performing at Butler to heading up a theater company, Smith and Burke have traveled a long way in their careers—if not in distance—to get to this point. They are “making their own art” through the diversity of NoExit’s performances.
“I like to think about NoExit as opening up a faucet of imagination,” Burke said. “We remind the city that anything is possible if they believe in it. We want them to imagine more.”
If you would like to read more about the IndyFringe Festival that NoExit Performance was a part of, please follow the link below.