What the Constitution Means to Me / our review
INNOVATIVE Touching hopeful
Jul 17th, 2019
A Hot Debate!
Fun Fact: The United States Congress is more racially and ethnically diverse than ever before.
Target Audience: Anyone who values freedom should see this play, everyone who wants to ensure their freedom should also see this play.
Best Bit: Heidi Schreck's performance is genuine and grounded, having recently become a United States Citizen I felt tremendously emotional and grateful throughout this play.
Morning After Effect:Feeling very proud to be an American woman!
Political conversations are widespread in America, perhaps more than ever and the strew of Broadway shows drawing inspiration from the political system are evident. However, playwright and performer Heidi Schreck is making history with her unique format in this autobiographical play. She transitions from past, reliving the story of her 15-year-old self who took part in Constitution debate competitions in order to pay for college with the prize money, to her present self. It's a whirlwind of emotions as she tells the story of her life, her family and reveals how the constitution has done very little over the generations to protect women.
Constitution was a 2019 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Tony nominee for Best Play, winner of the Obie Award for Best New American Play and New York Drama Critics' Circle for Best American Play. Schreck's play is clearly monumental, revealing the intricacies of the document that founded America and her profound passion for equality and freedom. Schreck is deeply connected to this material and her delivery makes you feel as if she is telling this story to you for the very first time. This is of course not the case, Constitution was first produced at the Clubbed Thumbs festival for new plays in 2017, presented at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2018 and went on to open Off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop where it received great acclaim. After premiering on Broadway in March 2019, it has extended its run twice already due to its popularity!
Schreck's piece has landed at the right time as we see many female figures rising up and taking a stand against the outdated policies and procedures demonstrated in the country. US soccer star, Megan Rapinoe, has been relentless in her fight for equal pay during the team's recent World Cup success and the release of Netflix new documentary Knock Down the House follows the great efforts to bring more women to power. A hopeful nod demonstrating that men and women in this country are coming together and making a stand for change.
Schreck's play welcomes her longtime friend and performer Mike Iveson whose responsibilities include debate master and "positive male energy", recognizing that gender-bashing will stifle change. Schreck has also wisely included two young African-American debaters who alternate performances (Rosdely Ciprian and Thursday Williams) and debate with Schreck on whether we should keep or abolish the Constitution. On the night I attended we saw Ciprian whose presence, knowledge and passion immediately eased the tension in the audience and left us feeling hopeful that the future looks bright, provided we give our youth the tools for success so they can indeed enjoy "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".
View our show pages for more information about What the Constitution Means to Me, Helen Hayes Theater.