Plight Of Public Education Takes Center Stage In Regional Premiere Of Ike Holter's EXIT STRATEGY
Rec Room Arts opens their 2018 - 2019 season with Exit Strategy by Ike Holter. Set in Chicago, the play tells the story of a fictional public high school slated for closure at the end of the year. Despite funding cuts, bureaucrats run amok, apathy, and a rodent infestation, a small, multiracial group of teachers launch a last-minute effort to save the school, and put their careers, futures, and safety in the hands of a fast-talking administrator who may be in way over his head. The tenuous situation also raises fears and anxieties among students and within the volcanic neighborhood that surrounds the school.
Hailed as "riveting," "sharp," and "richly metaphoric" by critics, the play indicts how we educate our children in big American cities, and shows why the gap between "haves" and "have nots" continues to grow. Holter has said that Exit Strategy was inspired by the 2013 mass closure of 49 Chicago public schools, which displaced nearly 12,000 children-the majority of directly impacted students were African American and Latinx. Of the school shutdowns, Holter says, "I have friends who are teachers and I teach on and off... They were incredibly angry about it and it took over their lives. I saw the rage, the love for these places. The energy around it was palpable."
Holter says he considers this work a "comedic thriller." Instead of trying to "beat the audience over the head" with "important themes," he decided to "make it about the people" and the way they address the struggle. Holter also says the play parodies the "white savior" archetype and pushes it in a new direction, exposing "the dark version...of liberal people patting themselves on the back" and forcing the audience to root for the characters outside of their "ideological standpoint."
Exit Strategy, one of seven plays in Holter's cycle of works set in Chicago, or Chicago-inspired, neighborhoods, is directed by Artistic Director, Matt Hune, who lived with Holter in Chicago after graduating from DePaul University. So the landscape is both familiar and important to Hune, who is also an educator himself. Under his direction, an intimate audience of up to 60 people per night will witness Holter's signature razor-sharp, quick-witted, foul-mouthed, and jaw-dropping prose about a contentious topic plaguing virtually every sprawling urban school district, including our own here in Houston.
The play features a dynamite cast which includes Susan Koozin (Stages Repertory Theatre), Greg Dean (Catastrophic Theatre), Gabriel Regojo, Matthew Jamison, Melanie Burke, Miguel Cortes and Michelle Magallon.
The creative team includes costume design by Clair Hummel and lighting and scenic design by Rec Room Arts' Creative Director, Stefan Azizi. The play is stage managed by Allison Viera.
EXIT STRATEGY opens September 26 and runs through October 13. Performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. Rec Room Bar opens at 6 pm and remains open until 12:00 am. The box office opens one hour before curtain.
Single tickets are now on sale and range from $15 - $40. They can be purchased at the door or online at https://www.recroomarts.org/exit-strategy.
Season tickets for the five-show season are available for purchase at www.recroomarts.org in three packages: School Night ($99; limited to Wednesday or Thursday nights only with the exception of opening night); Anytime Pass ($135; Anytime with the exception of opening night); and VIP ($175; Opening night + After-Party with a champagne toast and Meet & Greet with the cast and creative team).
All shows are downtown at Rec Room, 100 Jackson Street, Houston, TX 77002.