Exception to the Rule

Exception to the Rule

New York, NY
A grade-A show crackles with humor and suspense.
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About Exception to the Rule

Playwright Dave Harris’s New York debut crackles with humor and suspense—confronting the tactics for surviving institutions that were not built for you.

How do you make it through detention? In the worst high school in the city, six Black students are stuck in Room 111. They flirt. They fight. They tease. Should they follow the rules and stay put, or find an escape? Are the walls keeping them in, or are stronger forces at play?

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Tell Me More

Detention is underway at Roundabout Theatre Company — but this is one detention session you’ll want to go to. After being presented as a reading in 2019, Dave Harris’s new play Exception to the Rule gets its first full production, and it’s sure to be a grade-A show. Get Exception to the Rule tickets on TodayTix.

The Exception to the Rule play is set in Room 111 — a detention classroom — of the worst high school in the city. In Room 111, five regular attendees are sitting at their desks. It’s detention as usual until a sixth student enters: Erika, the high school’s star student with a college education ahead of her.

She doesn’t know the usual rules of detention — how to avoid getting in further trouble, what to do when the teacher doesn’t show up, how to survive and stay safe until detention finally ends, which it never seems to do. Gradually, she (and the audience) learns more over time, as the students spend their detention fighting, smoking, flirting, studying, swapping stories about what landed them there. But they’re not just trying to survive (and maybe escape) detention. There are much larger forces at play that are keeping them stuck there, as the underdogs in an educational system that wasn’t built for them.

Exception to the Rule was originally scheduled for 2020 and was meant to mark Harris’s New York debut. However, that distinction went instead to Tambo & Bones, which premiered at Playwrights Horizons in January 2021. Now, Exception to the Rule is Harris’s second Off-Broadway production in the same season!

Roundabout Underground is producing Exception to the Rule off Broadway. The program is dedicated to plays by emerging writers, which premiere at Roundabout’s Black Box Theatre with the goal of eventually playing on larger stages.

Grab your backpack and take a seat at Exception to the Rule. Get tickets to Exception to the Rule in New York on TodayTix now.

What to Watch For

  • Six high school students are stuck in detention and learn about each other and themselves along the way… sound familiar? You’ll likely enjoy Dave Harris’s play if you’re a fan of The Breakfast Club — the classic 80s movie shares some themes with Exception to the Rule.
  • In an interview, Harris said that he started writing Exception to the Rule during his junior year of college. The idea for the play “started through the lens of a journey to college, leaving home, the place where you came from. In Exception, each character wrestles with what it means to stay behind, what it means to go "forward," whatever that means.” Harris said he was reevaluating “the idea of what being ‘successful’ is” after attending primarily white schools.
  • Dave Harris and Miranda Haymon are a dynamic duo. Haymon directed the first reading of Exception to the Rule at Roundabout in 2019 and is now returning to helm the full production.
  • Roundabout Underground’s alumni include tons of playwrights who have gone on to huge success. There’s Joshua Harmon, who premiered his play Bad Jews with Underground before going on to an award-winning on- and Off-Broadway career. And don’t forget Steven Levenson, whose Dear Evan Hansen has won six Tonys and is a Broadway favorite! His play The Language of Trees premiered with Underground way back in 2008.
Run time


Start date

April 28th, 2022

End date

June 26th, 2022


Play, Off-Broadway


Roundabout Theatre Company - Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre




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