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On the Exhale

Written by Martín Zimmerman
Directed by Matt Pfeiffer
November 29, 2019 — December 22, 2019

Theatre Exile - 1340 S. 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147

70 minutes

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Season Sponsors Bruce and Giuliana Zallie from Zallie Supermarkets
Honorary Producers June and Steve Wolfson
Community Partner Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia
Neighborhood Sponsor Victor Cafe
Opening Night Sponsor Michael Shannon Designs

A liberal college professor searches for meaning after a terrible act of violence. She finds herself drawn to the power and control of the weapon that forever changed her life.  Challenged by the inaction and corruption of the legislature she is faced with the opportunity to teach a lesson but she may have to learn one first.

Friday, November. 29 8:00 PM (Preview) – $10 in advance or PWYC at the door. A portion of the proceeds from this performance will go to the Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia.
Saturday, November. 30 8:00 PM (Preview) – $10
Sunday, December. 1 3:00 PM (Preview) – $25
Tuesday, December. 3 7:00 PM (Preview) – $25
Wednesday, December. 4 8:00 PM (Opening Night) – SOLD OUT
Thursday, December. 5 7:00 PM – $35
Friday, December. 6 8:00 PM – $35
Saturday, December. 7 8:00 PM – $35
Sunday, December. 8 3:00 PM (Post-show Discussion) – $35
Wednesday, December. 11 7:00 PM – $35
Thursday, December. 12 7:00 PM (Post-show Discussion with Anti-Violence Partnership’s Community Service Director, Lisa Christian) – $35
Friday, December. 13 8:00 PM – $37
Saturday, December. 14 8:00 PM – $37
Sunday, December. 15 3:00 PM – $37
Monday, December. 16 7:00 PM (Industry Night) – $37
Wednesday, December. 18 7:00 PM (Post-show Discussion with Anti-Violence Partnership’s Community Service Director, Lisa Christian) – $37
Thursday, December. 19 1:00 PM – $25 – SOLD OUT
Thursday, December. 19 7:00 PM – $37
Friday, December. 20 8:00 PM – $40
Saturday, December. 21 8:00 PM – $40
Sunday, December. 22 3:00 PM – $40

“On the Exhale” is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc., a Concord Theatricals Company


“Holum performs with profound restraint… and rivets our attention…”

Toby Zinman, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“From breezy levity…to ironic confessions and barely restrained panic, Holum brings emotional resonance to each twist of the narrative.”

Alaina Johns, Broad Street Review

“It will leave your mind racing and your heart broken.”

Talkin' Broadway, Rebecca Rendell

“As a holiday gift to yourself spend a powerful 70 minutes with Suli Holum.” 

Dennis Bloh, Philly Life & Culture

“…visceral, thoroughly modern, elegant…”

Jessica Foley, Phindie


Theatre Exile, Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia explore grief with one-woman play “On the Exhale”

Philly Voice

“There’s no doubt that the story of this play – that (the character’s) story – is a tragic story,” Holum said. “She’s telling a story of tragedy but where she arrives is in a place of moving forward, so that’s ultimately what feels most important to us.”

Grace Maiorano, South Philly Review

Listen to director, Matt Pfeiffer talk about his production of On the Exhale by Martín Zimmerman.

Darnelle Radford, Rep Radio

On the Exhale is one of 13 Incredible Performing Arts Shows In Philadelphia This December.

Christopher Munden, UWISHUNU

On Target: Matt Pfeiffer talks about directing ON THE EXHALE

Christopher Munden, Phindie

“At a time when Mayor Kenney offers new gun initiatives, the one-woman plays “Natural Shocks” at Simpatico Theatre and “On the Exhale” at Theatre Exile, study the literal and figurative face of violence”

A.D. Amorosi, Metro

A.D. Amorosi talks with Matt Pfeiffer

A.D. Amorosi, Theater in the Round

Suli Holum (Woman) is a Philadelphia-based theatre artist, member of The Wilma HotHouse and Artistic Director of The Work, an incubator for new performance. She was a founding member of Pig Iron Theatre Company, and Co-Artistic Director of Stein | Holum Projects (www.steinholum.org) whose works include Drama Desk nominated CHIMERA, and THE WHOLEHEARTED.  She is the recipient of a Drama Desk Award, Fox Resident Actor Fellowship, Barrymore Award, and Independence Fellowship and her work has been developed and presented by Fringe Arts, The Gate (London), Center Theatre Group (LA), HERE and Under the Radar (NYC), ArtsEmerson (Boston), New Dramatists, The Orchard Project, and Actors Theatre of Louisville. Recent roles include Kost in CABARET, Arden Theatre Company; Tanya/Nan in HOPE AND GRAVITY, 1812; Jessie in SWEAT, Philadelphia Theatre Company; QZ in THE FEW, Theatre Horizon; Ashlee in DANCE NATION, Wilma Theatre. She is thrilled to be making her Theatre Exile debut!

Matt Pfeiffer (Director) Matt is a Philly born actor and director. He has been the Associate Artisitc Director of Exile for almost 15 years. He has acted and directed numerous productions for Exile including; Completeness, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, and appearing in Red Light Winter and Tommy and Me. Other credits include; Arden Theatre, Bristol Riverside, Delaware Theatre Co., InterAct, Walnut St., 1812 Productions, Lantern Theatre, The Gulfshore Playhouse, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, UArts, Villanova University and 21 seasons with the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. Matt is a twelve-time Barrymore nominee and winner for his direction of The Whale and The Invisible Hand both with Theatre Exile. He’s also a recipient of the F. Otto Haas Award. Love to John and Kim.

Alyssandra Docherty (Scenic and Lighting Designer) Alyssandra is a Philadelphia based lighting designer. After graduating with honors and a BA in Theatre from DeSales University, she continued her training as an apprentice at Goodspeed Musicals in Connecticut. She spent five seasons as the Lighting Supervisor at Philadelphia Theatre Company, and has been touring internationally with Koresh Dance Company since 2013 and with BalletX since 2017. At Theatre Exile, she designed the lights for last season’s Completeness which earned her a Barrymore Award nomination. Other recent credits: Delaware Theatre Company’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, Theatre Horizon’s The Color Purple, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s The Adventures of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, Hattiloo Theatre’s The Parchman Hour (Ostrander Award nomination)and Philadelphia Theatre Company’s Sweatwww.alyssandradocherty.com

Keyonna Butler (Costume Designer) Keyonna Butler is an organized, self-driven costume designer and wardrobe stylist based in Philadelphia, PA. She briefly studied at Philadelphia University as a Fashion Design major before starting her career in the film and theater industry doing freelance costume work. With over 5 years of experience in the fashion industry, Keyonna has worked with designers such as Dah’mod Collins of RM67, Ayasa Afi and Annina King of Granate’ Pret Clothing. With a passion for fashion and sustainability, Keyonna has also started a clothing line, Stellar Design Shop, a clothing line that creates high quality repurposed fashion through the process of hand crafting old clothing into new designs. The mission is to promote individuality, self-love and self-empowerment with the clothing that we wear.

Samantha Dugan (Stage Manager)

K. O’Rourke (Assistant Director) is thrilled to be collaborating with Mr. Pfeiffer and Theatre Exile. Recently seen in Dot at People’s Light and The Christians at Bristol Riverside Theater. Other regional theater includes: Wilma Theater, Philadelphia Theater Company, Lantern Theater, Play Penn, Lightning Rod Special, Theatre Horizon, Shakespeare in Clark Park, Simpatico Theater Company, EgoPo Classic Theatre, Iron Age, and Saratoga Shakespeare Fesitval. Barrymore nominations for Best Featured Performance, Detroit (Philadelphia Theater Company) & Taming of the Shrew (Lantern Theater Company). Barrymore nominations for Outstanding Choreography, Emma (Lantern Theater) It Girl (Simpatico Theater Company), Anna (EgoPo Classic Theater). Television: #MiniMocks with Comedy Central. Film: Dark State, and Holy Fool. “K.O.” is Lead Instructor and Director of Programming for the nonprofit ballroom dance company Dancing With The Students in Philly/Lexington/LA. Grateful for today. Education: MA (Villanova), MFA (Temple University). www.korourke.com, @kokoactor

Carter O’brien Ford (Production/Facilities Manager) – started as a teen fellow at the Hedgerow Theatre and continued his theatrical education at Gloucester County Institute of Technology in their Performing Arts-Acting Program. Since then he has received a BBA in Arts & Entertainment Management from Pace University-NYC, directed Blood Knot here in Philadelphia and the first U.S. workshop of Rotterdam in NYC. As a technical director he started with numerous student productions in Philadelphia and NYC before moving onto the Atlantic City Ballet Tour, Frigid NY, and Soho Playhouse. He still tours as a lighting designer, workshops the plays he writes, and performs as a storyteller & improviser. He’d like to thank Theatre Exile for accepting him into their family and his family for accepting… well, keeping him in their… well, his family. Thanks!

Edward Smith (Sound Engineer) is a Philly native and graduate from the University of the Arts. Some of his recent projects includes, Acedia (Uarts 2018), Monster in the Hall (Inis Nua 2018), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Resident Theater Company 2019), Let Me Die (FringeArts 2019), This is the Week That Is (1812 Productions, 2019), and Noche Flamenca (2020). www.edwardsmithsound.com


Martín Zimmerman is a multi-ethnic, bilingual playwright and screenwriter whose plays include Seven Spots On The SunOn The ExhaleWhite Tie BallThe Making Of A Modern Folk HeroThe Solid Sand Below, and Let Me Count The Ways, and have been produced or developed at The Kennedy Center, Goodman Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse In The Park, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, Alley Theatre, Roundabout Underground, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Traverse Theatre, LCT3, New York Theatre Workshop, Victory Gardens Theater, The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Marin Theatre Company, The Playwrights’ Center, Alliance Theatre, A.C.T. (Seattle), PlayPenn, Icicle Creek Theatre Festival, American Theater Company, The Theatre @ Boston Court, Chicago Dramatists, Primary Stages, Teatro Vista, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Playwrights Foundation, Cara Mía Theatre Co, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, The City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, Theatre Row, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Borderlands Theater, Source Festival, The Gift, Collaboraction, Red Tape, The University of Texas at Austin, and Duke University with upcoming projects with Roundabout Theatre Company, Yale Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and Marc Platt Productions.

A recipient of the Terrence McNally New Play Award, Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award Citation, Humanitas Prize New Voices Award, Sky Cooper New American Play Prize, McKnight Advancement Grant, Jerome Fellowship, Carl Djerassi Playwriting Fellowship, Scotsman Fringe First Award, and the National New Play Network’s Smith Prize, Martín is a Producer on Netflix’s Ozark, was a Staff Writer on Netflix’s Narcos, has been the Alliance for Latino Theater Artists (ALTA) Artist of the Month,  was a member of the 2011-2012 Playwrights’ Unit at Goodman Theatre, and is a Playwright in Residence at Teatro Vista.

MFA in Playwriting: The University of Texas at Austin. BA in Theater Studies, BS in Economics: Duke University.

Matt Pfeiffer Headshot
Matt Pfeiffer Headshot

Q. What is the importance of bringing On the Exhale to the stage and why do people need to see this production.

A. The gun crisis in America has left us numb. And not unlike the protagonist of On the Exhale, we’ve been left asking what now? I think Martín Zimmerman has created a smart and moving piece of theatre, that allows an audience to explore what’s on the other side of that numb feeling. The play takes surprising turns and challenges assumptions about grief. It also offers a tour de force performance from one of Philly’s most gifted and accomplished actors. It should be a challenging and memorable production.

Q. Is there something unique that you think Suli will bring to this production?

A. Suli is one of the most accomplished and experienced actors I know. She’s played all kinds of spaces all over the world. She has an extremely diverse range of performances in her background, from avant-garde clown work and musicals to new plays and devised work. In addition, she’s created her own solo work. I think she’s uniquely qualified to bring the story to life.

Q. As a father of a young child, how do you think this will impact your direction?

A. I’m oddly lucky in that my son isn’t yet in school. I live in deep hope that we’ll have made progress by the time he’s in school. But I’m, of course, dubious. It may be worth noting there’s a gun range a few miles from our house and every day when we play outside I can hear it in the distance. I become hyper aware of that sound in relationship to my child. I Imagine it will be similar working on the play. The violence and the story are at a slight distance from me. But only slightly.

Q. What do you want audiences to know before seeing this production?

A. I want them to know this is not a polemical play. Any attempt to engage in the tragedy of gun violence has become overtly political. But the play is telling a more complicated narrative. The issue isn’t black and white, nor is the play. It does ask you to wrestle with tragic circumstances, but in the same vein of Shakespeare and Sophocles.

Q. Gun violence is in the news daily, what research have you done to prepare for this production?

A. I’m really just spending time with the play. The narrative is personal and isn’t an attempt to wrestle with the dramaturgical facts of gun violence. It’s an exploration of the psychological effects of tragedy. And it’s unique to this character’s journey. She’s not an avatar for all experiences.

Q. Gun violence has touched many people’s lives. What responsibility does Exile have to the emotional well-being of our audience during and after the production?

A. I do believe it would be worth partnering with someone who does grief counseling. Maybe offering nightly chats? When I did Blackbird, the Fulton partnered with a local organization to do nightly conversations with people who needed to talk after the show. I believe it was through the local ymca. So I wonder if we could explore that idea.


Q.  The themes of On the Exhale are challenging. Why was it important for you to be a part of this production?

A. I’m honored to be entrusted with this material. Themes of grief and loss, the experience of navigating the threat of violence, but also the deep love of a parent for their child, and the capacity to experience great tragedy and still find a path forward- all of these resonate with me personally and I think this piece does a terrific job of honoring them.

Q.  Is there anything you are doing to take care of yourself during this process?

A. I find it very helpful when working on difficult material to remember my commitment to storytelling as an agent of change and of healing.

Q.  You’ve been in rehearsal for a couple weeks now.  Have you found any part of the process surprising?

A. I’ve been very excited to dig in to the writing and get to know my character. She is incredibly complex and she has a wonderfully smart and often surprising sense of humor.

Q. Has your role as a mother in your real life impacted your approach to your performance?

A. As an actor you bring your own perspective and life experience to bear on every role you play. Being a mother myself certainly brings me closer to my character.

Q.  Is there anything unique you think Matt is bringing to the rehearsal process?

A. Matt and I share a depth of experience in performing and directing solo work. He knows what it is to perform a solo show and I trust his guidance in helping me craft this one. I’m also extremely grateful for the compassion he brings to the process.  This kind of play is a huge challenge, and I’m in good hands!

The Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia (AVP) is the oldest organization of its kind in Philadelphia, and the only one whose mission is to reduce the entire cycle of violence by providing intervention, prevention, and support. Its five core programs help victims and their families rebuild their lives in the aftermath of violence and guide children and youth to resolve conflict nonviolently. Last year, AVP served 3,100 children and families who were victims of violence and/or had lost a loved one to homicide.

With your support, those affected by community violence can access no-cost clinical treatment, youth mentoring, support navigating the judicial system, and hope for the future.

Programs offered

AVP Counseling Center: This program offers free, professional counseling to adult and child co-victims of homicide and those who have been traumatized by other forms of violence.

West/Southwest Victim Services: WSW provides support for victims of crimes committed in West and Southwest Philadelphia. Services include emotional and crisis support, court accompaniment, and assistance filing for victims’ compensation.

Families of Murder Victims: The goal of this program is to lessen the suffering and trauma of family members following the violent death of a loved one. FMV provides assistance from the investigative phase through the preliminary hearing and sentencing of homicide cases throughout the city of Philadelphia.

Youth Violence Outreach Initiative: YVO provides free counseling and therapeutic services to youth aged 12-22 who have experienced the violent death of a loved one and/or community violence.

Intra-Familial Homicide Initiative: This program works to improve the response to homicide in the city of Philadelphia by coordinating survivor-centered resources and services in collaboration with agencies across the city.

For more information visit http://avpphila.org/