Saturday night I had the immense pleasure of revisiting historic Tuckaway. During the early years of the 20th century, Tuckaway was the home of “scientific palmist” Nellie Simmons Meier, and her husband, the noted fashion designer George Philip Meier. During their residency, the upscale bungalow played host to an endless list of celebrities from the worlds of art, science, and politics. In 1972 Ken Keene purchased the property from Ruth Wallace, the Meier’s niece. He also acquired some original items—primarily Nellie’s palm prints, personal correspondence, and the numerous autographed photos from the home’s famous visitors that still hang on the walls. The present owners. Joe Everhart and Ken Ramsay, purchased the home after Keene died in 2015.
The last time I visited Tuckaway was for a celebration of Keene’s life held in 2016. Keene and the home continue to be of significance to me because I produced and directed a 1983 docudrama about Tuckaway for WRTV- Channel 6 where I was employed for 15 years.
When I heard that Tuckaway would be the location for “Tuckaway, Summoning the Future’s Past,” a benefit for NoExit Performance, I did not hesitate to contact the organization and request an invitation to cover it. Not only am I devotee of Tuckaway, I am also a fan of NoExit, whose shows I often review. I have also profiled several of its artists.
Founded in 2003 by a group of Butler alums, NoExit is a performing arts organization that describes itself as “a body of multidisciplinary artists who create and present, innovative performance experiences within diverse spaces. We seek to creatively engage our audiences by promoting civic and social dialogue between artists and our community.” Paying its artists is one NoExit’s highest priorities, with a goal towards raising artists’ stipends by 20% every year, it is Indianapolis’ premiere site-specific performance company. They have performed at such locations as Central State, Indiana Dunes, Crown Hill Cemetery, IMA, Butler Morris House, Garfield Park, and Fort Benjamin Harrison
The event raised $3,000 donated by 80 guests who enjoyed cocktails and a buffet of delectable appetizers prepared by Duos. They were entertained by NoExit artists who roamed the house and elegant gardens performing dance and mime pieces. Also performing was veteran NoExit company member Beverly Roche who played Nellie Meier and who read my palm and those of several others in the very room where Meier practiced what she called “scientific palmistry.”
Guests were free to move about the home to view the Meier’s fascinating memorabilia and admire the antique-appointed rooms before they heard an announcement by NoExit Performance Executive Director Lukas Schooler. After thanking attendees for being present at the event, Schooler told the crowd about the organization’s new Indianapolis Theatrical Design Co-Op. NoExit has a studio where the company has been actively designing and engineering theatrical assets for several years, but the studio and equipment need an update. Additionally, it is the organization’s desire to open its facilities to other professionals and artists to foster an engaged community of theatre practitioners in Indianapolis.
According to a brochure distributed at the event “The Co-op will be a communal space in which artists may design, engineer, and create theatrical assets for all kinds of performance-based productions. It will include a wood shop, metal shop, paint studio, and sewing studio where participants will have access to flexible rehearsal spaces as well as a theatrical assets library—a collection of props, costumes, puppets, set pieces, and A/V equipment. The assets library will lower the overall costs of local productions and combat wasteful practices commonly seen in theatre design. Cross-institutional collaboration among sculptors, fashion designers, wig-makers, carpenters, and many other highly skilled artists practicing in different mediums will be one of the Co-Op’s greatest intangible assets. ”
Recognized for creating a cultural experience that is unique to Indianapolis, NoExit is highly regarded for its inventive theatrical design work. Celebrated for its innovations, the grassroots non-profit organization, wants to be Indianapolis’ premier visual theatre company. Known for creating everything from 10-foot-tall dragons featured in “Mad Hercules” to grey-scale silent movie starlets seen in “The Beast, The Lady and the Sanguine Man”, A IndyFringe 2017 hit, the company is well on its way towards to achieving their goal. In the future, NoExit hopes to acquire, hone, and share their design skills to broaden the scope and scale of theatrical design in Indianapolis.
With the announcement of the Co-op, the always adventurous NoExit reinforces its reputation for cutting edge art. The entire theatre community and, most importantly, Indy audiences, stand to benefit from it’s vision which, hopefully, will foster further artistry and creativity for all.
Coming up next from NoExit Performance is “1984” by Matthew Dunster. An adaptation of George Orwell’s novel,it will run during three weekends in November followed by Drosselmeyer’s XXXmas Cabaret,” December 7 & 8 at White Rabbit Cabaret. For tickets and information visit noexitperformance.org.