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.
“Holter… has a gift for sharp characterization and crisply funny dialogue with jagged edges.” —Charles Isherwood, The New York Times
“Exit Strategy is an insightful, humorous, and poignant look into the lives of CPS teachers. The play should be a required lesson for the city. Seeing it will build empathy for the noble people behind the school walls.” —The Fourth Walsh