A failing public high school in Chicago is scheduled to close at the end of the school year. The neighborhood is already unstable and the news that the school is closing has put everyone on edge. A group of teachers risks everything to keep the school open, but who knows if the administrator leading the battle is fearless or just clueless?
Exit Strategy is a comedy written by Ike Holder which debuted in 2014 and showed off-Broadway last Spring. This month, Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company brings the play to the Southwest Arts Center’s Performance Theater (Feb. 21 – Mar. 19).
Actor Matthew Busch, who stars as assistant principal Ricky Hubble in the production, talks about how relevant and timely Exit Strategy is in Atlanta and nationwide:
Holter’s production debuted not long after the Chicago Board of Education voted to close 49 public schools. The move disproportionately impacted poor and minority communities. While failing schools on the verge of closure is hardly a funny topic, Holter’s comedic approach seeks to humanize the people whose lives are impacted by these decisions.
The topic is particularly relevant in Atlanta, where Atlanta Public School Superintendent Maria Carstarphen recently announced the potential closure and consolidation of more schools in east Atlanta.
Under the proposal, about 300 students at Benteen Elementary would go to D.H. Stanton, while almost 300 students at Whitefoord Elementary be divided between Burgess-Peterson Elementary and Toomer Elementary. Two other schools in the area, Coan Middle and East Lake Elementary, have already shuttered.
Whenever there is talk of school closures, the conversation inevitably turns to matters of race, economics and politics. Last week at a community meeting regarding the school consolidations, Carstarphen discussed many of these topics.
On Feb. 2 at 6 p.m., Carstarphen will join Monica Pearson, for a public conversation presented by True Colors and Clark Atlanta University.
Designed as a prelude to the Southeastern premiere of Exit Strategy, the conversation will focus on the problems that have plagued Atlanta Public Schools in recent years. Carstarphen is expected to share her plans for the future of APS and will take questions from the audience.
The event is free and open to the public but you can register online. It takes place Thursday, Feb. 2, 6 -9 p.m. in Davage Auditorium located inside Haven-Warren Hall on the main campus of Clark Atlanta University, 223 James P Brawley Drive Southwest, Atlanta.
For more information, visit Truecolorstheatre.org.