New York | 1h 40m | Ends Aug 24

What the Constitution Means to Me (Broadway)

From 46 critic and 196 member reviews
Members say: Relevant, Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Clever

About the show

Heidi Schreck's comic and hopeful exploration strives to breathe new life into our Constitution and imagines how it will shape the next generation of American women. More…

Fifteen-year-old Heidi Schreck earned her college tuition money by winning Constitutional debate competitions across the United States. In her boundary-breaking new play, the Obie Award winner resurrects her teenage self in order to trace the profound relationship between four generations of women in her own family and the founding document that dictated their rights and citizenship. 

1h 40m | Ends Aug 24 | Helen Hayes Theatre (Midtown W)

Stage Left

"Easily the most important play on Broadway this season, or in any season...Schreck’s performance is a brave and magnificent public act of personal storytelling that is so artfully crafted and masterfully delivered that it feels wholly extemporaneous, as if each performance were summoned from whole cloth. That’s a testament to her incisive writing and virtuosic acting, and director Oliver Butler’s razor-sharp guidance...A must-see." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

“This piece is a beautiful, amorphous exploration of constitutional law, the judicial system, and the oh-so important concept of equal rights for all...Schreck weaves the personal and political in such seamless ways that this never feels like a civics class, but instead like a compelling story...The entire play is miraculously fluid...A guidebook in how to do political theater and an exemplary example of the power of theater. It is a flawless, moving, and incredibly powerful masterpiece.” Full Review

The New York Times

"Nothing less than a chronicle of the legal subjugation of women by men...It is a tragedy told as a comedy, a work of inspired protest, a slyly crafted piece of persuasion and a tangible contribution to the change it seeks. It is not just the best play to open on Broadway so far this season, but also the most important...Schreck gives a real and wrenching performance, not a speech…‘Constitution’ is one of the things we always say we want theater to be: an act of civic engagement." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"Shattering, galvanizing, and very funny, Heidi Schreck’s ‘Constitution’ close reads an old text in new and breathlessly exciting ways...Persuasively, she conjures both that brace-faced Patrick Swayze-swooning teenager, and the woman she became...In its specificity and generosity, it is capacious enough to move with the times...The show feels a little broader than it did Off-Broadway, a little spikier, a little more frenetic...A more perfect solo show? Broadway won’t see one for years." Full Review

Time Out New York

"It’s the rare indie theater piece that doesn’t require intimacy...It’s theater in the old sense, the Greek sense, a place where civic society can come together and do its thinking and fixing...The text itself doesn’t seem to have changed since its Off Broadway run last year, yet the show has deepened, sweetened, and strengthened in its move to Broadway...Broadway’s oxygen has turned her into a wildfire. On the night I saw the show, the audience roared its response." Full Review


"The result is by turns deeply funny, heart wrenching, inspirational, and one of the most searing and enlightening pieces of political theatre in recent memory...Get yourself to the Helen Hayes Theatre. You’re in excellent company...It’s more than timing that makes Schreck’s performance one of the most thrilling and alive on New York stages right now. Schreck is a remarkably sincere storyteller with a gift for staying uncannily present in the room and in the moment." Full Review

City Cabaret

"Director Oliver Butler keeps a casual, energetic delivery. Schreck breezes ahead bringing out a bright, naive, imaginative girl who evolves into a woman of admirable perception of the Constitution, fascinated by its facets...With a spirit of spontaneity and, yes, optimism, Schreck's play ties the founding document with today's political events...This is a spot-on informative conversation, delivered with gregarious humor and heart, plenty of laughs and also some tears." Full Review

The Theatre Times

"Heidi Schreck’s breathtaking, autobiographical exorcism of an American civic ethos is unafraid to tear up the document it reveres...Necessary theater for anyone interested in the human spirit and how it might survive our contemporary political moment...What’s most innovative about this play is its form. There is no separation between Heidi and her audience." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"As directed with a free-flowing and creative hand by Oliver Butler, it hits us deep and sharp, almost as complicated as the ripples of distrust and pain that strike through Schreck, shaking and overwhelming her composure that feels, most definitely, out of the box...It lightens my load, seeing the smart and funny 'What the Constitution Means to Me,' although my broken heart stays confused and perplexed in these trying times." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"A true original: educational and funny, superbly performed, and blazingly topical…Schreck delivers an awesome performance, filled with anger, vulnerability, astuteness, and pain, but also with welcome dollops of humor…'Constitution' is absorbing, and there's a lot to absorb. It's an event that makes its lessons that much more pertinent by their connection to Schreck's experiences. When it's over, however, you may consider turning your attention to what the Constitution means to you." Full Review

The Observer

"Art can make a difference, it can improve you. But what does it take? Brutal honesty and plenty of facts. Schreck provides both in abundance—along with natural charisma and loads of humor. The piece is a model of how a playwright-performer can use the memoir-monologue and electrify it within a harrowing historical context...This ingenious play keeps peeling away its layers, to reveal a blood-chilling core truth: The Constitution isn’t here to protect you." Full Review


"You can feel comfortable enough to cry with her as she recounts the long history of shocking physical abuse many members of her mother's family experienced: a hideous pattern that her mother and father managed not to pass on...Just as importantly, she outlines the many violations of women's rights inherent in the Constitution, which for much of its 'life' did not deem as actual human beings worthy of protection, and how the Constitution still fails so many victims of domestic violence." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Few new works for the stage are as instantly, trenchantly timely...It's a play of ideas for which people are not just hungry but starved...It challenges us to step back and look at the bigger picture...The thoughtful craftsmanship that has gone into building the play is fully evident, notably in the skill with which Schreck relates her own history to the gaping holes in the Constitution where adequate protections for women should be...Unique, stimulating, and exquisitely heartfelt." Full Review

Theater Life

"Though the script may have been rehearsed, it feels as if the small company is saying the words and evoking these sentiments for the first time. The play is different, attention-grabbing, and as relevant as the latest headline, performed and written with a passion for justice, a must-see." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

S.H.: "Schreck’s performance has developed muscles. It’s gotten more visceral — more risky and exposed. The pain of it all—and the defiance—is more visible underneath what she calls her ‘psychotic politeness’...Schreck has us in hand both as a performer and as the constructor of the play." I.C.: "And that’s ultimately what I found so bold and moving: That she unapologetically puts herself — and to some extent the story of other people left out of the Constitution — at the center of it." Full Review

Front Row Center

"If this show, told mostly in monologue, is an overt tutorial on one of America’s founding documents, it is equally a master class in contemporary feminism...Her writing is filled with smart, comic pivots and, as sharply directed by Oliver Butler, she underplays the cruel absurdity of old dudes in robes making decisions about her body to full, devastating effect." Full Review

The Washington Post

"It would be hard to identify a work for the theater with its finger more cogently and rewardingly on the pulse of America right now...The endearingly funny evening...puts you contentedly in mind of one of our inalienable rights: the pursuit of happiness...Schreck is key to the play’s advanced level of enchantment. It’s her self-effacing buoyancy that sustains the piece, even at the few moments when it teeters on the brink of excessive digression." Full Review


"One of the most original and thrilling pieces on Broadway...Schreck radiates star presence, and as directed by Oliver Butler, this is 100 well-spent minutes." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"Schreck has a visible, and contagious, passion for the subject—and a gift for conveying it to the crowd...While it’s certainly not a lecture, the show is undoubtedly an education...It would be enough if Schreck had made this simply her show—her memoir, her coming-of-age story, her take on the Constitution. But she dedicates the last section to debate with a high school student...It feels energizing and hopeful—and exactly what our country needs." Full Review

The Stage (UK)

"With the assistance of director Oliver Butler, she navigates weighty, traumatic issues with laughter and a lightness of touch...Schreck alternates adult world-weariness with a chipper teenage smile, Iveson is drolly deadpan in his supporting turn and the two radiate unspoken-warmth to each other throughout. Between them, they create a powerful onstage debate that delivers a political punch to the gut." Full Review


"This final sequence calls on the debaters to argue the question of whether, in light of all its inadequacies, the Constitution should be abolished altogether…This moment is somehow a little anticlimactic in light of all the engaging and thoughtful content preceding it. Nonetheless, 'What the Constitution Means to Me' is a must-see, especially considering everything the Constitution means to all of us at this particular stage of the American experiment." Full Review

Melinda's Malarky

"This earnest production is a cauldron of comedy that represents Heidi's personal history along with American history...She convinces us winningly with her earnest & energetic run-on soliloquies of sophisticated intellect with innocent jubilation...Schreck's ingratiating & informal performance enhances an exciting exchange of provocative ideas and information that make 'Constitution' a meaningful substantive show." Full Review


"Schreck seems to float above time and space as she re-creates and rewrites her past...She also blasts through the artificial boundaries of form as she effortlessly gambols between memory play, confessional monologue, and political debate...Schreck is seriously funny, conveying her text with breathless charisma and a sunburst of a smile...Butler's production showcases Schreck's singular presence and helps us connect with her perspective through well-chosen visuals." Full Review


"Schreck's inescapably truthful, yet eventually hopeful autobiographical performance piece...The author plays her 15-year-old self, delivering a reconstructed version of the long-lost speech and responding to questions regarding the Fourteenth Amendment, with her present-day self, now in her 40s, adding her more experienced views...It's all an extraordinary balance of historical fact, legal analysis and personal experience presented with a warm, conversational tone." Full Review


"The engaging writer-performer is all smiles and so are we...But by the end of the show, we’ve been stirred — and challenged — by her penetrating insights into that document...Although she never drops her unthreatening demeanor of all-American niceness, Schreck takes a more acerbic tone as she works up to her true subject...To her credit, Schreck doesn’t let righteous anger curdle into polemics. On the contrary, she closes with an uplifting message." Full Review

Refreshing, Entertaining, Funny

See it if A totally fluff fun night out!

Don't see it if You are looking for depth.

Intelligent, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if You like one-woman shows (it's not, but it has that feel), love the US Constitution, worry about the US C, or wish you better understood it

Don't see it if See it! (I saw this production when it was at NYTW before moving to Broadway. I didn't know what to expect but it blew me away.)

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Quirky, Profound, Great writing

See it if You want a deeper understanding to how our constitution works/what the problems with it are, but also would what happens if we didnt have it

Don't see it if it should be a civic duty to see this. GO GO GO GO GO!

A wonderful examination of the origins of the constitution and how it would benefit from being acclimated to the ever-evolving times we live in. funny, heartwarming and educational.

See it if You enjoy a well-done (essentially) one-woman show that will encourage your understanding of this document that is of such import.

Don't see it if You don't favor thoughtful shows that are laced with humor and insight.


See it if Go

Don't see it if Go

Thought-provoking, Must see, Masterful, Great writing, Ambitious

See it if you like one person shows, you are an activist or want to make change

Don't see it if honestly I believe everyone stands to benefit and learn from seeing this show so you won't catch me saying to not see it. It is beautiful.

Must see, Intense, Masterful, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You are a human. EVERYONE SHOULD SEE THIS SHOW!

Don't see it if You are a statue that is not interested in challenging work or growing as a person.

Resonant, Riveting, Enchanting, Clever, Absorbing

See it if you want to think long after you leave the theatre.

Don't see it if you aren't interested in history as it relates to females. you don't want to be moved.

Resonant, Profound, Must see, Masterful, Absorbing

See it if You want insight into the constitution and the role it has played throughout history and how it can affect anyone.

Don't see it if No reason not to.

Also This might be the greatest theatrical experience I've ever attended. H... Read more Read less

Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if You are concerned with understanding more about our current political climate and how we got here

Don't see it if You hate women

Brilliantly crafted, Human, Funny, Cathartic, Thrilling

See it if You’re a person. There. That’s you. You should go see this.

Don't see it if You hate women or minorities or think white men should be the boss of everyone.

Also You know that study that found that theatergoers’ heartbeats synchroni... Read more Read less

Profound, Intelligent, Exquisite, Funny, Absorbing

See it if You have a heart and are invested in this country and the people in it.

Don't see it if Honestly you should just see it.

Profound, Masterful, Great writing, Clever, Absorbing

See it if You are into great storytelling. For an hour and a half this show grips you and doesn't let go. It's pure perfection onstage.

Don't see it if You prefer plays on a more epic scale. This play is very personal and very intimate.

A captivating civics lesson about our past, present, & future delivered by an extraordinary teacher

See it if you are at all interested in politics & history with a human face applied to it.

Don't see it if you prefer to keep politics out of your theatre.

Also I turned down a few opportunities to see this. I just thought it didn’... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Great writing, Great acting, Exquisite

See it if You want to see a stunning, thoughtful, invigorating performance that speaks to the political past, present, and future.

Don't see it if You’re totally against a challenging look at women’s rights in relation to U.S. politics and law.

Intelligent, Great acting, Entertaining, Clever, Absorbing

See it if You want to see a beautifully written one woman show with excellent acting.

Don't see it if You don't like one woman shows?

Entertaining, Delightful, Clever, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if You like thoughtful shows about timely topics.

Don't see it if You want to see a fluffy musical.

Thoughtful, Relevant, Intelligent, Absorbing

See it if you care about this country, the women in your life, the people of color in your life, people in the LGBTQ community in your life

Don't see it if you don't want to have liberal views sent into a liberal echo chamber because besides being a brilliant and thoughtful and emotional show...

Also is preaching to the choir (since most of the folks in the audien... Read more Read less

Profound, Resonant, Relevant, Must see, Great acting

See it if If you appreciate the historical and contemporary meanings of the U.S. Constitution.

Don't see it if If you think our country is working perfectly.

Also Delightful show. Funny and thought provoking at the same time.

Important, Resonant, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Must see

See it if you’ve ever wondered (especially in the last few years), “WTF is going on in this country?!”

Don't see it if (not applicable)

Must see, Resonant, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if You have questions regarding the Constitution and what’s going on this country currently. Want to really think about current affairs.

Don't see it if You are pleased with the current political climate. Do not like to put on your thinking cap at a show,

Also There really isn’t a more important, poignant, thought provoking play ... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Funny, Must see

See it if you don't think you want to see it as it is entertaining, interesting, funny, inspiring, and a don't-miss-it play.

Don't see it if you need big sets, costumes, casts, and 3 acts. This is a multilayered talk - goes far beyond where you think it will and you might learn.

Great writing, Exquisite, Clever, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if great writing, mixing the personal with the history of the constitution.. fantastic writing

Don't see it if n/a

Intelligent, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if Solo shows. Very engaging. So interesting.

Don't see it if You don’t like solo shows.

Profound, Must see, Hopeful, Horrifying, Hilarious

See it if You want to see a thought-provoking, important evening of theatre.

Don't see it if You're not inclined to go to the theatre to think about and face really hard truths.

Also This play made me laugh, it upset me, it thrilled and excited me, it g... Read more Read less

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Cast & Creatives (6)