By Beth Mack
February 1, 2022
Photo: Joan Marcus
Nearly two years after the Pulitzer Prize-nominated play, What The Constitution Means To Me, was originally scheduled to embark on its national tour, it’s finally underway. Presented by Blumenthal Performing Arts, the Tony-nominated play will make a stop at Charlotte’s Knight Theater on February 15-20, 2022.
When writer and actress Heidi Schreck sat down to write a script about her 15-year-old self’s love for the Constitution, her upbringing, and her family history, it was unlikely she could fathom the magnitude of its success.
What The Constitution Means To Me debuted in June of 2017 at the Clubbed Thumb’s festival in New York City, starring Schreck performing as herself (the main character). It was commissioned and ran for a short time at the Berkeley Repertory Theater before moving to the off-Broadway New York Theater Workshop in October of 2018. The play quickly made the jump to Broadway’s Hayes Theater in March of 2019. Due to its success, its run on Broadway was extended twice. During this time, it was nominated for two Tony awards for Best New Play and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (Heidi Schreck) in 2019. Additional awards included an Obie Award and New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best New American Play, and was even a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2019. Offstage, What The Constitution Means To Me was also made into a film by Amazon Prime Video in 2020.
The play focuses on 40-something-year-old Heidi Schreck, as she narrates stories from her youth, traveling across the country, winning speech contests centered around the American Constitution. As she narrates, Schreck mixes in how she relates to the founding document on a personal level through her life experiences, both at the age of 15 and now.
Schreck takes the audience on a trip down memory lane to US History class, as amendments, prominent court cases, and historical events are discussed. Through the performance, she looks at the amendments that have impacted her life and the life of many Americans, covering topics such as women’s rights, immigration, and domestic abuse. As she reflects back on her speech, Schreck draws connections from her personal life, ranging from her great-great-grandmother being a mail-order bride to her abortion. While the play is educational and entertaining, it makes the audience look at the over 200-year-old Constitution in a different light, in a way that is thought-provoking and empowering.
Original play director and Broadway play, Oliver Butler, has resumed his role for the national tour. An Obie Award winner, Butler has numerous Broadway and off-Broadway credits and was one of the founding members of Brooklyn theater company, The Debate Society.
To harness the play’s emotion and message, director Oliver Butler enlisted actress Cassie Beck to star as Schreck. Beck has extensive Broadway credits including The Rose Tattoo, The Humans, Picnic, and The Norman Conquest. In addition, Beck also has worked in television and film, appearing in the Amazon television series reboot of I Know What You Did Last Summer and starring alongside Mark Wahlberg in the 2021 film, Joe Bell.
What The Constitution Means to Me will perform eight shows in Charlotte at Knight Theater from February 15-20. A limited amount of $25 student rush tickets will also be offered.
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