The Philadelphia Inquirer calls Theatre Exile "the go-to company for fierce, sexy theater." Among the company's goals is to produce plays that contain a sense of true Philadelphia grit and passion. From their base in South Philadelphia, Theatre Exile is currently working with playwright Bruce Graham on a new play about political icon Frank Rizzo, who grew up in the neighborhood. Theatre Exile's production of Martin McDonagh's bloody comedy The Lieutenant of Inishmore, mounted with Center support, featured pyrotechnics and special effects on a scale unprecedented for the company.
Theatre Exile explored ways to dramatize the story of Frank Rizzo, a polarizing Philadelphia political icon. Rizzo, who served as police commissioner (1967–71) and mayor of Philadelphia (1971–79), presided over the city during a time when many Americans were frightened by attacks on the status quo. For many, Rizzo became a champion to protect their values, while others viewed him differently. Theatre Exile has produced many world premiere theater works, but had never before commissioned a play for development. Founding Artistic Director Joe Canuso directed the process, working closely with Pew Fellow and award-winning playwright Bruce Graham and actor Scott Greer to shape a script from a variety of sources, including a biography by S. A. Paolantonio and with a special emphasis on group discussions with longtime residents of South Philadelphia—the area where Rizzo lived and where Theatre Exile is based. "It is not our intent to portray a hero or a villain," Graham said, "but a complex man who rose to power at a turbulent time in America."