Off-Book Book Club: A reading group for classic and contemporary plays.
This month the club will be discussing Exit Strategy by Ike Holter.
Righteously angry, riotously funny, and wise to the tensions between abstract policy and lived experience, Ike Holter's play Exit Strategy centers on vivid, unforgettable characters struggling to maintain faith in a vocation that is being determinedly undermined.
Drawing from the headlines, Exit Strategy is set in Chicago and 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 over his head. The tenuous situation also raises fears and anxieties among students, and within the volcanic neighborhood that is home to the school.
Holter has said that Exit Strategy was inspired by the 2013 mass closure of forty-nine Chicago public schools, which displaced nearly 12,000 children--the majority of directly impacted students were African American and Latinx. Hailed as "riveting," "sharp," and "richly metaphoric" by critics, the play indicts how we educate our children in big American cities, and shows why gaps between haves and have-nots continue to grow.
Exit Strategy is one of seven plays in Ike Holter's cycle of works set in Chicago or Chicago-inspired neighborhoods.
"At once poetic, political, sad, funny, timely, complex, and compassionate, Ike Holter's thrilling, beautiful new play Exit Strategy is the story of the desperate final days of a condemned, crumbling Chicago public school dreading its upcoming prom date with the cruel bulldozers from City Hall." --Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune
Ike Holter has emerged from Chicago's independent theater scene as one of American theater's most exciting young artists. Holter's breakthrough play Hit the Wall was first presented at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre in 2012. The production established his reputation for exquisitely written dramas featuring multigenerational, multiracial casts. His other produced plays include Loom, B-Side Studio, The Wolf at the End of the Block, Sender, Prowess, and The Light Fantastic. Holter is a resident playwright at Victory Gardens Theater and the 2017 winner of the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize for drama.
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