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New York | 1h 30m | Ends Nov 04

What the Constitution Means to Me

From 23 critic and 139 member reviews
Members say: Relevant, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Clever

About the show

This witty and searingly personal exploration of the Constitution strives to breathe new life into our founding document and imagine how it will shape the next generation of American women. More…

Fifteen-year-old Heidi Schreck put herself through college by giving speeches about the U.S. Constitution. Now, the Obie Award winner resurrects her teenage self in order to trace the document's profound impact on women's bodies—starting with her great-great-grandmother, a mail-order bride who died under mysterious circumstances. Obie Award winner Oliver Butler directs. 


“I left the theater with an electric current running through my body the likes of which I haven't felt since 'Hamilton'...An X-ray examination of our republic's founding document that brilliantly straddles the border between ode and indictment...Schreck approaches her subject with such implacable enthusiasm...Her supernova energy is as infectious as it is disarming...'What the Constitution Means to Me' ought to run at least as long as our country does." Full Review

Stage Left

"Part civics lesson, part memoir—at once bittersweet and beautiful—Schreck’s mostly one-woman play...recounts her formative experience of wrestling with the constitution’s meaning as a teenager through the lens of her adult self, the women in her family, and the bitterly divided nation it serves. Heartbreaking, humorous, brilliant, and profoundly important, this is a must-see event of the fall season.” Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"By telling us about herself, Schreck shows us ourselves, our country, our own shared history. 'What the Constitution Means to Me' isn’t political commentary, which moves one way and often tells us what we already know. Rather, it’s a masterful act of storytelling, blending unflinching vulnerability, nimble humor, and acute analysis to inspire revelation. It’s a play that expands beyond itself, offering an immensely powerful model for modern civic theater." Full Review


"By turns deeply funny, heart wrenching, inspirational, and one of the most searing and enlightening pieces of political theatre in recent memory...Schreck, who began developing this piece 10 years go, is a remarkably sincere storyteller with a gift for remaining uncannily present in the room and in the moment...'What the Constitution Means to Me' feels unmistakably alive — like a vital conversation, a sit-in, a seance of sorts for the soul of the country." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

“A thrilling performance piece; as provocative as it is political...What Schreck goes on to reveal in her explanation of how her viewpoint on the Constitution has matured involves her family's dark history...all of which Schreck neatly and tidily connects to the rights not afforded to women...A searing and compelling argument, told to us in a non-threatening matter-of-factness that's stunning for its abundance of clarity and reason.” Full Review

Front Row Center

“A souped up TED TalK...An excellent and passionate argument in favor of the Constitution...Schreck is so adept and facile that we are willing to follow her...There are odd, unneeded elements included in this production...Iveson is given the thankless task of fulfilling the part of the contest moderator...Also not needed is the debate with a high school student...All in all, Schreck’s is an electric presentation. One only wishes she would be presenting it for a joint session of Congress.” Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

“Powerful evocative new play...As directed with a free-flowing and creative hand...it hits us deep and sharp, almost as complicated as the ripples of distrust and pain that strike through Schreck...The effortless grace of Schreck, pulling hard from her past experiences and history, solidifies the experience in such a compelling and moving way that one can’t help but be moved...I applaud Schreck for giving us a debate that feels so pure and required.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“Schreck's fearless, funny examination of the American legal system...Schreck is a charmer, an innately witty performer whose passion for the subject shines through...For three quarters of its running time, 'What the Constitution Means to Me' creates drama as Schreck pursues her argument, weaving together legal history with her personal story and elegantly posing some very troubling questions....Oliver Butler's direction keeps the enterprise engaging even when it veers off." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"Schreck…delivers an awesome performance, filled with anger, vulnerability, astuteness, and pain, but also with welcome dollops of humor…'What the Constitution Means to Me' is absorbing, and there's…a lot in to absorb. It's an educational, if decidedly polemical, event that makes its lessons that much more pertinent by their connection to Schreck's personal experiences. When it's over, however, you may consider turning your attention to what the Constitution means to you." Full Review


“Shreck’s inescapably truthful, yet eventually hopeful autobiographical performance piece...An extraordinary balance of historical fact, legal analysis, and personal experience presented with a warm, conversational tone. Though the piece is directed by Oliver Butler, you could find yourself wondering if Schreck's occasional moments where she needs to stop and compose herself are staged or natural occurrences. They are that realistic.” Full Review

Time Out New York

"The show offers a compelling mix of earnest sweetness and thundering mountaintop fury. As the show began on the 27th, though, the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings were still ringing in the audience’s ears, and Schreck—a fizzy presence—cried through nearly the entire performance. So did I. Yet there is more in Schreck’s piece than a pure appeal to emotion; there’s a deep and rational argument about the purpose of rhetoric, the value of giving a girl a podium." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"The unique outing is a barrel of laughs, while at the same time being seriously instructive...I bought the debate’s spontaneity. I bought Schreck’s whole kit and caboodle for the same reason that underneath the laughter and her quick way with an adlib, she means everything she’s saying...She’s vastly amusing, all right, but she’s also unmistakably politically engaged. You love her for it." Full Review


"But more than mere memoir, Schreck's work, smartly and simply directed here by Oliver Butler, puts the many violations of human rights over the past two centuries into context while also succinctly explaining the document that both let them happen, and ultimately, stopped some of them from continuing." Full Review

The Wrap

"Schreck is an engaging storyteller with a delivery that seems improvised even when she is sticking to her winding but always-focused script...The wonderfully composed 14-year-old Rosdely Ciprian astonished at my performance. Despite the depressing state of the news (and our Twitter feeds) about the fragility of our democracy, Ciprian sends the audience out with an almost buoyant hope for the future." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"The play is an anguished, deeply personal, and ultimately hopeful look at whose rights are protected and respected under our governing document and whose are not... Schreck is a warm, engaging presence, and her script, too, conveys an ingratiating conversational warmth. But what makes the play so impressive, and so necessary, is Schreck’s earnest, well-intentioned interest in reckoning not just with what’s gone wrong in our system, but also what’s gone right." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"What does the Constitution mean to playwright-actress Heidi Schreck? Any number of sharply observed, pointedly challenged, deeply appreciated, and honestly questioned things, which comprise 'What the Constitution Means to Me'...'Constitution' has a couple of false notes, but they’re truly minor...Schreck is a marvel. Her mostly monologue has the casual intimacy of a conversation with a friend and the authority of encyclopedic erudition." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

“'What the Constitution Means to Me,' slightly unwieldy creature that it is, hit me with exquisite timeliness in this historical micro-moment One strength of the show is the way in which it wraps a sophisticated argument...around a nuanced look at exactly the ways in which women grapple with the fear of not being safe in their bodily integrity or protected by the law...The show—like America right now—blends the personal and the political in ways that are as inextricable." Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"It combines memoir, civics lesson, polemic, debate and Q&A into a piece that is both engaging and frustratingly disjointed...Ms. Schreck is a very appealing performer, which made the event more enjoyable than my summary might suggest. Much of it is quite entertaining, as well as educational. Nevertheless, it does ramble rather aimlessly. Its inner logic escaped me." Full Review


"Of all the shows opening this season, Heidi's Schreck's 'What the Constitution Means to Me' best captures the mood of the moment in our country...It's a real eye-opener to what the Constitution is, and how it has evolved from the time our Founding Fathers wrote and presented it in 1787 as the backbone of our justice system...Though the show is never boring it can be confusing at times to know which part of Heidi's psyche we are eavesdropping on." Full Review


"'What the Constitution Means to Me' succeeds as a novel personal exploration but gets sidetracked by ambitiousness...Mr. Iveson later on drops his character and states that he is gay and recounts incidents of homophobia. As heartfelt as these asides are, they don’t quite jell with the rest of the show...Director Oliver Butler’s smooth staging yields momentum and plentiful creative imagery." Full Review

The New York Times

"The production feels less like a finished play than an endlessly open-ended conversation, being invented on the spot...Personally, I could have done with a bit more theatrical manipulation throughout, with more varied heightening of tone and pace. At times, listening to Ms. Schreck can feel like reading page after page of unpunctuated, unparagraphed prose. But if the show still has the shapelessness of a work-in-progress, that’s appropriate to the subject, isn’t it?" Full Review

AM New York

"The scattershot, seemingly improvised style of the piece is both its major strength and weakness. Schreck’s unpredictability and hyperactivity can be enlivening...That being said, many sections are repetitive, rambling and hard to follow. It is a show that manages to feel thin and overwhelming at the same time. Premiering in the midst of the Senate vote on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Schreck probably could not have picked a better time to do her show." Full Review

Broadway & Me

“This is important stuff and Schreck is an amiable guide but there’s an amorphous quality to this show that struck me as making it less like a theatrical piece and more like a TED Talk, albeit an engaging one...Schreck pretty much keeps to the script she’s written but...she regularly strays into asides that add to the running time but don't add much to the message she’s trying to get across...There are some attempts to inject a little drama...But their connection to the constitution seems str... Full Review

Perfect, Amazing, Incredible

See it if just see it.

Don't see it if see it please.

Delightful, Intelligent, Must see, Thought provoking

See it if You are interested in history, politics, current events treated in a thought-provoking and often very humorous way.

Don't see it if if you want a conventional plot and characters. Don't see it if you don't care about political issues or think you already know everything.

Also This is one of the best things I've ever seen. But it's a roller coast... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Profound, Relevant, Resonant, Great writing

See it if you live in the U.S. This show is brilliant. Everyone should see it. Heidi weaves the personal into the political in a masterful way.

Don't see it if you are deaf to women's issues, insensitive to domestic violence and sexual assault, or have a closed mind.

Funny, Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting

See it if Timely, thought provoking about the impact of the constitution on four generations of women in Schreck's family. Funny and heart breaking.

Don't see it if If you are uninterested in American politics and our constitution.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Refreshing, Relevant

See it if like new forms of theatre that address our current plight in context of feminism, the Constitution, and history.

Don't see it if dislike new forms or want a naturalistic play.

Also Hooray for theatre of debate. It's been dead in America for decades, b... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Masterful, Must see, Profound, Relevant

See it if You want to experience brilliant theatre artist's using the medium to truly communicate and create a collective experience.

Don't see it if You have a closed mind and long for a traditional "play".

Also I saw this production weeks ago and I am still processing the myriad o... Read more Read less

You won't regret seeing this show. guaranteed.

See it if you want relief from that punched-in-the-gut feeling and need to know that entire country hasn't gone crazy (no, it's always been teetering)

Don't see it if Honestly, there's no reason anyone, whatever their interpretation of democracy, shouldn't see this show. Go. Take your worst relatives. Go.

Also I wasn't expecting a lot, and actually I was gingerly hoping it wouldn... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Must see, Relevant, Riveting

See it if you think that theater should be the mirror of its time. Also, if you are an American. A must-see if you are an American woman.

Don't see it if you are looking for escapism and fluff. Also if you can't handle the talk about domestic violence, violence against women and politics.

Also "Riveting" does not even begin to describe it. I'd like to think that ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Relevant, Great writing

See it if You are looking for something brilliantly conceived and executed that will make you think.

Don't see it if You are looking for a naturalistic plot and alot of action. This is a talk piece.

Funny, Honest, Absorbing, Smart

See it if you want a smart, brave show that will blow your socks off and absolutely make you think. EVERYONE should be required to see this show.

Don't see it if you aren't willing to go in with an open mind and pay attention. There's lots to take in-if you want a light night, see something else.

Ambitious, Clever, Thought-provoking, Masterful, Must see

See it if you are prepared for a masterclass in storytelling: witty, relaxed but burning with a quiet anger.

Don't see it if no, please see it. Everyone should see this. Important theatre that's also genuinely funny.

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

See it if A very important show. Reminds one of what is truly great about this country. Uplifted me after a sad few days for this country.

Don't see it if If you're uninterested in the history and government of this country, you won't like this show. And I'm sad for you.

Funny, Clever, Entertaining

See it if This is terrific political theater. The premise is naïve but refreshingly optimistic. Be prepared to think!

Don't see it if If you don't want to be challenged by feminist ideology, try to open yourself to this unique (but everywoman) journey.

Thought-provoking, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy thought-provoking theater which tackles timely topics with emotion and wit.

Don't see it if You prefer light shows

Funny, Absorbing, Delightful, Intelligent, Must see

See it if You don’t wanna miss one of the best direct address shows I’ve ever seen... it’s basically a one person show with other actors. Biographical

Don't see it if Political, insightful and thoughtful pieces with hilarity thruout aren’t your thing. If you are very conservative you might not like it.

Absorbing, Clever, Exquisite, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if A thrilling & masterful solo about how the Constitution has impacted on 4 generations of women. Excellent !

Don't see it if Do not see if you are not prepared to listen, think and be totally mesmerized by this incredible theatre piece.

Absorbing, Profound, Resonant, Timely, Compelling

See it if Compelling and timely due to current events surrounding the Kavanaugh confirmation; heartfelt, funny, shocking but always engaging

Don't see it if Can seem scattershot or unstructured at times; while counterpoints are always offered the political views are left of center or more

Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant

See it if If you are frustrated in this political climate and can use a refreshing take. You like history and poignant, political and relevant theatre

Don't see it if you are easily offended (it's not offensive but truthful), can't take the truth.

Clever, Delightful, Intelligent, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if you want to hear politics discussed in a lighthearted way - serious issues come up but this show makes it surprisingly fun.

Don't see it if you're not interested a TED-talk-like piece; you need a break from politics; you want a show with set and costume changes.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You're interested in a personal exploration of the Constitution and how it affects women's rights in particular.

Don't see it if You're not interested in the government or the current state of affairs in our country.

Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy deeply personal story telling. You are an American. You are into great writing. And laughing. And learning stuff.

Don't see it if You hate America. You hate good writing. You hate good story telling. You hate women.

Funny, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you are angry about this supreme court appointment. THIS weekend this show was what I needed to see. It made me think!

Don't see it if you want a traditional play. This is more like a personal journey told to us in simple direct address with a few surprises.

Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You want to learn about the US Constitution's evolution against the engaging story of a woman's life. And participate in a debate about it.

Don't see it if You want to get away from US politics, history, violence against women. Don't care whether the US Constitution should be kept or scrapped.

Clever, Thought-provoking, Must see, Entertaining

See it if a brilliant woman's lifelong insights about the complicated but incredibly important and topical subject will make you laugh and cry

Don't see it if you have no patience for any more political discourse even with an exceptional performer/writer.

Also Full of surprises, including the "next generation" child actor who was... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Profound, Relevant

See it if You like relevant theatre told by a charming actor and are on the side of feminists

Don't see it if If you are against women's rights or are a Trump supporter

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