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How “What the Constitution Means to Me” represents an innovation in theater

How “What the Constitution Means to Me” represents an innovation in theater
[Illustration: Artur Tenczyński]


Theater vet Heidi Schreck‘s play What the Constitution Means to Me was inspired by her experience as a 15-year-old giving speeches for scholarship money at American Legion halls across the country about the importance of the U.S. Constitution. She portrays both her current and teenage self on stage, reflecting on how her family’s history intersects with American history—and focusing specifically on the Constitution’s lack of protection for women and minorities. After successful runs in San Francisco and off-Broadway in New York, the play opened in March at Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theater. “I’m talking about things that are 230 years old, and everything we touch on is shockingly relevant,” she says. A scene at the end of the play depicts Schreck’s character debating a high school student about whether the Constitution should be kept or not, and an audience member is called on to make the final decision. He or she “votes to abolish about 20% of the time,” Schreck says, “but after the Kava­naugh hearings people voted to abolish a lot because they felt like the system isn’t really working.”

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