Visiting Guest Artists

Butler Theatre welcomes a plethora of visiting guest artists to our department each year, with two series that bring in artists who engage with our students and the public in meaningful ways. The Jordan College of the Arts Signature Series is a high-impact program which has brought us fabulous artists.

Our own Butler Theatre Christel DeHaan Visiting International Theatre Artist (VITA) program  brings in an internationally-recognized artist to be in residence with us every other fall semester. VITAs direct or design a production, teach classes for our students, and connect with the university and Indianapolis communities.

In addition to these formalized programs, we have guest artists stopping in—or zooming in—to see us all the time. Whether directing or designing a production with us, teaching a masterclass, or auditioning our students for future professional work, we value the artists who share their craft with us.

Leah NanakoLeah Nanako Winkler is a Japanese-American playwright from Kamakura, Japan and Lexington, Kentucky. Her plays include Kentucky (off-broadway- Ensemble Studio Theater/ Page 73), God Said This (World premiere: Humana Festival 2018, off-broadway- Primary Stages, Two Mile Hollow (simultaneous world premiere: Ferocious Lotus/ Theater Mu/Mixed Blood/ Artists at Play LA), Hot Asian Doctor Husband (world premiere: Theater Mu), Death for Sydney Black (off-broadway: TerraNova Collective) and Nevada – Tan (Inaugural Audible Emerging Artist Commission). Her newest play, The Brightest Thing in the World will premiere at Yale Rep in 2022. She is published by Dramatist Play Service, Samuel French and Yale University Press. Awards/Fellowships: Yale Drama Prize, ATCA’s Francesca Primus Prize, the inaugural Mark O’Donnell Prize from The Actors Fund and Playwrights Horizons, the Jerome New York Fellowship, A Peabody Award and the 2020 Steinberg Playwright Award. TV credits include Love Life, New Amsterdam and Ramy as well as several original projects in development. She is a member of Ensemble Studio Theater, an alumnus of Youngblood, Dorothy Streslin New American Writers Group at Primary Stages, Time Warner Fellow of WP Theater and Ma-Yi lab. MFA Brooklyn College. Commissions include WP Theater, EST/SLOAN and Disney/Marvel.

Butler Theatre is proud to welcome back Leah! Leah’s play, Two Mile Hollow, is being produced at Indianapolis’ Phoenix Theatre and Cultural Centre this spring and is directed by another Butler Theatre alum, Mikael Burke.

DConstruction ArtsDConstruction Arts was founded in 2014 by Butler Theatre Alum, Tavi Stutz, and Jane Rose McKeever. Prior to and in addition to Tavi’s work with DConstruction Art, Tavi Stutz has performed with the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Berzerk and Circus Vargas. In addition to this he has directed and choreographed productions in and around the greater Los Angeles area including the Loft Ensemble Theater and Sacred Fools. Jane Rose McKeever has worked in audio and visual design for theater, film and television, including work with Walt Disney Imagineering and the HBO show The Nevers. She is also a tenured professor and the Head of Production in the Department of Television, Film and Media Studies at California State University, Los Angeles.

Drawing upon their individual professional backgrounds, Stutz and Rose McKeever have conceptualized and produced many multimedia infused productions; including the multiple award winning two-person show Definition of Man (Ovation nominated for Best Stunt Choreography, LA Fringe winner for Best in Dance/Choreography), collaboration on Dreya Weber’s one-woman show Witch Piece/Hexen, and many different productions of Love Is… between 2016 and 2022, most recently completing a collaboration with Donald Byrd and Spectrum Dance Theater in Seattle WA.

Culture ClashCulture Clash is a performance troupe that currently comprises writer-comedians Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, and Herbert Sigüenza. Their work is of a satirical nature.

Culture Clash was founded on May 5, 1984 at the Galería de la Raza in San Francisco’s Mission District, by the writers José Antonio Burciaga, Marga Gómez, Monica Palacios, Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, and Herbert Siguenza. The founding date is significant due to the importance of Cinco de Mayo to Mexican-Americans, the shared ethnicity of the majority of collaborators. Montoya and Sigüenza had both been involved in the Chicano art scene in the San Francisco Bay Area, Montoya being the son of Chicano poet, artist, and activist José Montoya, and Sigüenza having been involved in the art collective La Raza Graphics, which created works of graphic art to support campaigns of the Chicano Movement.

Culture Clash’s works range from comedic sketches to full-length plays and screenplays, all of which feature political satire and social satire. The troupe’s members have appeared separately and together in several films and received numerous awards, commissions and grants. In 1993 they filmed 30 episodes of a sketch comedy television series, also called Culture Clash. Several episodes were aired on Fox affiliates. In 2006 they premiered two new full-length plays, the comedy Zorro in Hell and “SF: The Mexican Bus Mission Tour with CC!” Their works have been collected in two volumes, Culture Clash: Life, Death and Revolutionary Comedy and Culture Clash in AmeriCCa: Four Plays. Their papers are housed at the California State University, Northridge (CSUN) Oviatt Library Special Collections and Archives.

Jackie Sibblies DruryJackie Sibblies Drury’s plays include Marys Seacole (OBIE Award), Fairview (2019 Pulitzer Prize), Really, Social Creatures, and We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915. The presenters of her plays include Young Vic, Lincoln Center Theatre, Soho Rep., Berkeley Rep, New York City Players & Abrons Arts Center, Victory Gardens, Trinity Rep, Woolly Mammoth, Undermain Theatre, InterAct Theatre, Actors Theater of Louisville, Company One, and The Bush Theatre. Drury has developed her work at Sundance, Bellagio Center, Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep, Soho Rep. Writer/Director Lab, New York Theatre Workshop, Bushwick Starr, LARK, and MacDowell Colony, among others. She has received the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, a Jerome Fellowship at The LARK, a United States Artists Fellowship, a Helen Merrill Playwriting Award, and a Windham-Campbell Literary Prize in Drama.

Mikael Burke is a Chicago-based director, deviser, and educator. A Princess Grace Award-winner in Theatre, Jeff Award-nominated director and proud Butler Theatre grad (’09), Mikael’s worked with Victory Gardens Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Jackalope Theatre Company, Windy City Playhouse, About Face Theatre, First Floor Theater, American Theatre Company, Chicago Dramatists, and The Story Theatre in Chicago, and regionally with Geva Theatre Center, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, and Phoenix Theatre.

Mikael serves as Associate Artistic Director at About Face Theatre in Chicago, is Head of the Directing Concentration of the Summer High School Training Program of the Theatre School and is an adjunct faculty member there as well as in the Chicago College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Recent directing credits include we are continuous by Harrison David Rivers; Kill Move Paradise by James Ijames; The Agitators by Mat Smart; Sugar in Our Wounds by Donja R. Love; At the Wake of a Dead Drag Queen by Terry Guest. The Theatre School at DePaul University (MFA) |

Rachel Chavkin is a Signature Series Artist who gave a public presentation AND lead a workshop especially for our students in March 2021.

Tony Award-winning Director, Writer, and Dramaturg, Rachel Chavkin is one of the most distinctive and innovative directors working on Broadway. She is best known for her award-winning musicals Hadestown and Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812.

A longtime staple of the off-Broadway scene, Chavkin has become recognized for her visceral directing style and seamless blend of experimental avant-garde with the traditional Broadway aesthetic. In her speaking engagements, she discusses the importance of diversity in theater, both in diversity of talent and in the incorporation of diverse elements in order to create innovative work.

After a twisty 13-year road to Broadway, Chavkin’s Hadestown finally opened in March 2019. Released to critical acclaim, the New York Times called it “sumptuous, hypnotic” and “gorgeous,” while the WSJ ranked it as “the best new musical of the season.”

Based on the music, lyrics, and book by Anaïs Mitchell, Hadestown is a folksy reimagining of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. It received 14 Tony nominations, winning eight, including for Best Musical and Best Original Score, and earned a Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award for Chavkin, for Best Director of a Musical.

In 2016, Chavkin directed Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1912, based on a 70-page segment from Tolstoy’s War and Peace. The show was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, winning two, while Chavkin was nominated for Best Direction of a Musical, and won an Obie Award, Elliot Norton Award, Drama Desk Award, and several others for Best Director.

She is the founding artistic director of Brooklyn-based group the TEAM, an ensemble dedicated to creating new work about the experience of living in modern America. They have performed all over the U.K., including at the National Theatre, the Royal Court, and in multiple collaborations with the National Theatre of Scotland.

Chavkin’s first film, Remind Me, was an official selection of the Venice and Beverly Hills Film Festivals. Proud NYTW Usual Suspect and Member SDC.

She is currently working with composer Dave Malloy on an adaptation of Moby Dick.

Chavkin earned her BFA at NYU where she now serves on the directing faculty at Playwrights Horizons Theater School, and earned her MFA at Columbia University.

Butler Theatre is honored to host Nicole Brewer for an anti-racist workshop with our department. Ms. Brewer will lead students, faculty, and staff through a series of exercises this fall. She will return in the spring to follow up on our progress.

Nicole Brewer is a passionate advocate for anti-racist theatre. She has spent the last seven years refining and practicing an inclusive method of theatre training and practices which she calls Conscientious Theatre Training (CTT). She has authored four articles about the need for the theatre industry to shift from racist and oppressive models to anti-racist and anti-oppressive. Why ‘Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion’ Is Obsolete was reported by American Theatre as one of their top ten most read stories of 2019.

Nicole is invited all over the US to teach and speak about CTT and facilitate anti-racist theatre (ART) workshops. She’s also facilitated ART workshops in the UK providing workshops for The Globe and Cambridge University.

Nicole is a board member of Parent Artist Advocacy League (PAAL) where she works to shift how the industry can become more proactive to the needs of caregivers.

Nicole is one of the four producers of the COVID-19 freelance artist resource website, The producing collective also partnered with HowlRound to produce six weekly webinars that centered the needs of freelance artists impacted by the pandemic.

Ms. Brewer is on faculty in the acting department at the Yale School of Drama. She has worked at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a premier performing arts high school in Washington, DC as visiting faculty (acting). Nicole was visiting faculty at the National Theater Institute (NTI) for several years. She was faculty in the theatre department of Howard University for seven and a half years and has also worked at Northern Virginia Community College and Montgomery College teaching acting and introduction to communications courses.

Nicole is frequently invited to share her work on CTT and ART at conferences such as ATHE, SETC, and TCG; The Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem, North Carolina; and in the UK at Goldsmith’s University.

Nicole Brewer earned her MFA in Acting from Northern Illinois University and her BFA from Howard University. She’s worked professionally as an actor, director and educator.