Vouchers Will Not Save Our Schools: “Exit Strategy”

UPDATED on 2/28/17: Because holy crapping fudge DeVos is either a sincere idiot, or a racist ass (mostly likely, both). https://twitter.com/AdamHSays/status/836416602736312320

Photo by Joel Benjamin. With Robert Bonotto, Victoria George, Johnny Quinones, Jalani Dottin-coye and Matt Fagerberg.

Presented by Zeitgeist Stage Company
Written by Ike Holter
Directed by David Miller

Feb. 17- March 11, 2017
Plaza Theater
Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont St in Boston’s South End
Zeitgeist on Facebook

This production is made possible in part by The Bob Jolly Charitable Trust, which was established by the late Boston actor Bob Jolly to support local theater artists.

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MAExit Strategy opens with a quote for Betsy DeVos’s Senate Hearing on Jan. 17, 2017. DeVos is a rich, white women with no experience in public education and a strong preference for charter schools. She’s in love with vouchers. To her, “accountability” is just a 14 letter word. She is completely oblivious of the hard work public school teachers do every single damn day in order to teach their students. Her ignorance, arrogance and entitlement are the three donkeys of the educational system’s apocalypse. Our kids, especially the underprivileged, deserve better. Her philosophies are the kind that allow schools to crumble apart with children still in them.

Chicago’s Tumbldn School is scheduled for closure and demolition at the end of the school year. They have been abandoned by the system. A proud group of teachers are tired of picketing and protesting. Spineless, pushover, “nice guy” Vice Principal Ricky (Matthew Fagerberg) weighs them down. He’s the reason Tumbldn is up shit creek without a paddle. All is lost until clever upstart Donnie (Jalani Dottin-Coye) diverts the school’s homepage to an Indiegogo crowd funding site. Donnie convinces Ricky not to be a waste of space and to fight for Tumbldn. Shockingly, Ricky changes. He rallies teachers Arnold (Robert Bonotto), Jania (Victoria George), Sadie (Lillian Gomes), and Luce (Johnny L. Quinoness) to keep fighting for their school via project: Team Winning. Team Winning does not live up to its name.

The entire cast gives commendable performers. They are simultaneously realistic, vulnerable and inspirational.

Maureen Adduci as Pam is the ball busting woman I want to be when I grow up (minus the violence). She takes no prisoners. Forgives but never forgets. She loves until her heart bursts out of her chest. Pam could be unlikable. Adduci ensures that is isn’t. 

Fagerberg has hit a sweet spot in this role. He gives POS Ricky depth, and a hint of integrity. We watch Ricky grow into an almost decent human being and then watch him crumble back into a selfish hole of depression afterwards.  

Dottin-Coye pulls an exceptional performance as the voice of reason. Donnie is brash, and whip-smart. He’s exactly the kind of brazen activist that the public school system desperately needs. Dottin-Coye’s presence and energy are certain to cement him in local fringe theatre.

Upon first viewing, David Miller’s direction and set design impress upon he audience the desperation and hopelessness of the school’s plight. For example, teachers must use bottled water to make coffee because the building’s pipes are so bad they’ll make the teachers sick. Yet, the design reminds of the teacher’s tenacity. They are going to teach these kids if it kills them.

Zeitgeist’s Exit Strategy gets its audience riled up and ready to fight against injustice. It reminds us that sometimes, no matter how hard we work or just our cause, we lose. Failures are never, ever a reason to stop fighting for what is right. We dust ourselves off and keep going.

Queen’s Note:
we elected a thin-skinned bigot to the office of the President dead set on turning our “democracy” into a fascist, totalitarian oligarchy dominated by the 1%. His plan to slash the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for Humanities is HERE. Trump is a monster. His policies, when he names them, are destructive. His narcissistic behavior is more so. Fight him. And, for the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. May the force be with you. – KD

Sign the petition to protect the National Endowment HERE.

#blacklivesmatter #translivesmatter #brownlivesmatter #yellowlivesmatter #lgbtqialivesmatter #immigrantlivesmatter #muslimlivesmatter #disabledlivesmatter #theatreartsmatter #NODAPL

 

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