What the Constitution Means to Me
By Heidi Schreck
Directed by Oliver Butler
Main Season · Peet’s Theatre
May 3–June 17, 2018
West Coast premiere
Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission
When Heidi Schreck was in high school she delivered speeches about the Constitution in American Legion Halls all over the country in order to earn money to pay for college. Today the witty Obie Award-winning performer radically reinvents the speech she gave at 15 and discovers the profound effect this document has had on four generations of women in her family. The piece culminates in a fierce impromptu debate between Heidi and a local high-school debater over the future of our inalienable rights. Directed by the Debate Society’s Obie Award-winning Oliver Butler, What the Constitution Means to Me is a moving and entertaining show that New York Magazine called one of the 10 best shows of 2017, saying: “It finds the political, and the powerful, in the personal.”
What the Constitution Means to Me originated with Clubbed Thumb in partnership with True Love Productions as part of Summerworks 2017.
This play was commissioned by True Love Productions and developed in partnership with Clubbed Thumb.
Berkeley Rep offers an advisory about any stage effect of potential concern to patrons’ health. This show has none. We don’t offer advisories about subject matter, as sensitivities vary from person to person. If you have any concerns about content, please contact the box office.
We had a change of plans!
What the Constitution Means to Me replaces Pike St. as the final show of our 2017–18 season.
A special note for 2017–18 season subscribers
Your ticket to Pike St. is now good for What the Constitution Means to Me on the performance date and time listed on your original ticket. We won’t be issuing new tickets. Bring your Pike St. ticket to Berkeley Rep to see What the Constitution Means to Me.
Cast and creative team
Heidi Schreck* · Playwright / Performer
Heidi is a playwright, actor, and screenwriter living in Brooklyn. Her latest plays include What the Constitution Means to Me and Grand Concourse, which premiered at Playwrights Horizons and Steppenwolf Theatre in 2014–15, and has been produced by theatres all over the country including Shotgun Players in Berkeley. Grand Concourse received a Lilly Award, the Clare Tow Award, and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn prize. Heidi’s other plays Creature, There Are No More Big Secrets, and The Consultant have been produced by Long Wharf Theatre, Page 73, Seattle Public Theatre, ART, SpeakEasy, New George, Rattlestick Theatre Company, and more. She holds commissions from the Atlantic Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, and South Coast Repertory Theatre and has a been a playwriting fellow with Soho Rep and the Sundance Theatre Lab. Her television writing includes Nurse Jackie, Billions, and I Love Dick, and she is currently developing a TV series with Annapurna Pictures and Imagine. As an actor, Heidi has performed at Berkeley Rep (In the Wake), Roundabout Theatre, MTC, Playwrights Horizons, Shakespeare in the Park, and more. TV: Nurse Jackie, The Good Wife, Billions, Law & Order: SVU. Heidi is the recipient of two Obie Awards, a Drama Desk Award, and the Theatre World Award.
Danny Wolohan* · Danny
Danny is a member of Campo Santo Theatre Company. His past Berkeley Rep credits include TRAGEDY: a tragedy, Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West, and The Lieutenant of Inishmore. He has appeared off Broadway in The Low Road (The Public Theater), An Octoroon (Soho Rep), The Flick (Barrow Street Theatre, also at Steppenwolf Theatre), Judy (Page 73), Verité (LCT3), Pocatello (Playwrights Horizons), and Tumacho, I’m Pretty Fucked Up, and Baby Screams Miracle (Clubbed Thumb). Danny has appeared on the TV shows The Black List, Orange is the New Black, Law & Order: SVU, Elementary, and Veep.
Wisdom Kunitz · Wisdom
Wisdom is ecstatic to be performing for the very first time at Berkeley Rep. The aspiring performer has performed in The Struggle at Sacramento’s Mel Lawson and Twelfth Night (Viola/Cesario) in Sacramento’s Guild Theater. Wisdom attends James Logan High School and actively participates in both speech and debate. She competes in various league tournaments in Congressional debate as well as Oratorical Interpretation.
Anaya Matthews · Anaya
Anaya is thrilled to join the Berkeley Rep family in this production of What the Constitution Means to Me. Her regional credits include Ragtime, Annie, and Sound of Music (Berkeley Playhouse). She has performed at the Oakland Art and Soul Festival, as a young artist in residence at Children’s Fairyland, and has professional credits working with Mini Mix’d Dance Company, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, and the Oakland Youth Chorus Chamber Singers. Anaya is a playwright and a member of the Berkeley Rep Young Writers of Color Collective. She is fluent in French and is a 10th grader at St. Mary’s College High School.
Oliver Butler · Director
Oliver is the co-artistic director of The Debate Society and has directed The Amateurs (Vineyard Theatre), The Light Years (Playwrights Horizons), Jacuzzi (Ars Nova), Blood Play (Bushwick Starr), Buddy Cop 2 (Ontological-Hysteric Theater), Cape Disappointment (PS 122), You’re Welcome, The Eaten Heart, The Snow Hen, and A Thought About Raya. His off-Broadway credits include The Open House (Signature Theatre, Lortel Award Best Play, Obie Award Direction) and What the Constitution Means to Me (Clubbed Thumb). His regional credits include Bad Jews (Long Wharf Theatre), Thom Pain (based on nothing) (Geffen Playhouse), Legacy (Williamstown Theatre Festival), An Opening in Time (Hartford Stage), and his international credits include Timeshare (The Malthouse, Australia). Oliver is a Sundance Institute Fellow and a Bill Foeller Fellow (Williamstown).
Rachel Hauck · Scenic Design
Rachel’s Berkeley Rep credits include The Madwoman in the Volvo, Roe, It Can’t Happen Here, An Iliad, Mother Courage, Antony & Cleopatra, and Valley Song. Previously with Heidi Schreck: Grand Concourse and Creature. Rachel’s recent New York credits include Latin History for Morons (Broadway); The Lucky Ones (Ars Nova); Hadestown and An Iliad (New York Theatre Workshop); Latin History for Morons, Tiny Beautiful Things, and Dry Powder (The Public Theater); Amy and the Orphans and On the Exhale (Roundabout Theatre Company); Animal (Atlantic Theater); You’ll Still Call Me By Name (Sonya Tayeh at Live Arts); All the Ways to Say I Love You (MCC Theater); Antlia Pneumatica and Grand Concourse (Playwrights Horizons); Night Is a Room, Our Lady of Kibeho, and And I and Silence (Signature Theatre); and To the Bone (Cherry Lane Theatre). Her recent regional work includes Top Girls (Huntington Theatre Company); Poster Boy and And No More Shall We Part (Williamstown Theatre Festival); The Good Book (Court Theatre); Shakespeare in Love, Roe, Into the Woods, The Music Man, and Othello (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Clybourne Park and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Guthrie Theater). Rachel received the Princess Grace Award, Lilly Award, and an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence.
Michael Krass · Costume Design
Michael returns to Berkeley Rep after 30 years—the very first regional work of his career was The Art of Dining here. He is a three-time Tony Award nominee for his work on Broadway, which includes The Cherry Orchard; Machinal; Noises Off; You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown; and Heisenberg. Off Broadway and regionally he has designed world premieres by Edward Albee, John Guare, Kenneth Lonergan, Heidi Schreck, Simon Stephens, The Debate Society, Will Eno, Christopher Durang, and many many others. Recently he won LA’s Ovation Award for Parfumerie. Michael designed Pélleas and Mélisande for the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia; Campbell Scott’s film of Hamlet; and much dance for Ballet Tech in New York. He taught for many years at NYU and now teaches design to the graduate directors at Brown University.
Jennifer Schriever · Lighting Design
Jennifer, who is also the lighting designer for Berkeley Rep’s production of Angels in America, is based in New York City. Her Broadway credits include Eclipsed and John Leguizamo’s Ghetto Klown (also filmed for HBO). Her off-Broadway credits include Bobbie Clearly and On the Exhale (Roundabout Theatre Company); In the Body of the World (Manhattan Theatre Club); The Amateurs (Vineyard Theatre); School Girls, or the African Mean Girls Play (MCC Theatre); Strange Interlude (Transport Group); The Moors (Playwrights Realm); Bright Half Life (Women’s Project); and Night is a Room (Signature Theatre Company). Regionally, Jen has designed at Goodman Theatre, Center Stage, American Repertory Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Goodspeed Opera House, Studio Theatre in DC, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Studio Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, South Coast Repertory, and Williamstown Theatre Festival. Her opera credits include Die Fledermaus and Pearl Fishers (Metropolitan Opera); Faust, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and La Traviata (Mariinsky Theatre in Russia); and The Pearl Fishers (English National Opera in London). Jennifer is an adjunct professor at Purchase College. Visit jenschriever.com.
Sinan Refik Zafar · Sound Design
Sinan is a New York-based sound designer and composer. He is thrilled to be making his Berkeley Rep debut! His recent work includes peerless (Yale Repertory Theatre), Hamlet (Waterwell), What the Constitution Means to Me and Richard in 9 Poses (Clubbed Thumb), Intimate Apparel and Detroit (TheatreSquared), We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, From the German Südwestafrika, Between the Years 1884–1915 (Yale Drama Coalition), Midsummer (Tiltyard), Macbeth (director Will Frears), and Lindsey Ferrentino’s Amy and the Orphans (Carlotta Festival of New Plays). Other regional credits include O, Fallen One (Curly Cue & Co), Blood Knot (Lounge Theatre), Woyzeck (Illyrian Players), and Julius Caesar (Griot Theatre of the West Valley). He holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama. Visit sinanzafar.com.
Amy Potozkin, CSA · Casting
This is Amy’s 28th season at Berkeley Rep. Through the years she has also had the pleasure of casting plays for ACT (Seattle), Arizona Theatre Company, Aurora Theatre Company, B Street Theatre, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Dallas Theater Center, Marin Theatre Company, the Marsh, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Social Impact Productions Inc., and Traveling Jewish Theatre. Amy cast roles for various independent films, including Conceiving Ada, starring Tilda Swinton; Haiku Tunnel and Love & Taxes, both by Josh Kornbluth; and Beyond Redemption by Britta Sjogren. Amy received her MFA from Brandeis University, where she was also an artist in residence. She has been an audition coach to hundreds of actors and a presentation/communication coach to many businesspeople. Amy taught acting at Mills College and audition technique at Berkeley Rep’s School of Theatre, and has led workshops at numerous other venues in the Bay Area. Prior to working at Berkeley Rep, she was an intern at Playwrights Horizons in New York. Amy is a member of CSA, the Casting Society of America, and was nominated for Artios Awards for Excellence in Casting for The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures; One Man, Two Guvnors; and An Octoroon.
Betsy Norton* · Stage Manager
Betsy is thrilled to be returning to Berkeley Repertory Theatre, having previously served as stage manager for Mike Birbiglia: The New One and production assistant for Monsoon Wedding and Amélie, A New Musical (Berkeley Rep and Center Theatre Group). Other work includes five seasons (and over 15 shows) at Marin Theatre Company. Betsy is a proud new member of the Actors’ Equity Association.
Clubbed Thumb commissions, develops, and produces funny, strange, and provocative new plays by living American writers. It is a groundbreaker, with a precise curatorial vision and a remarkable track record for launching artists’ careers; and an incubator, nurturing plays, collaborations, and above all artists, through thoughtfully deployed resources, opportunities, mentorship, and hospitality. Visit clubbedthumb.org.
True Love Productions
True Love Productions is Jeanne Donovan Fisher and Laurie Gilmore. Select Broadway credits include A Doll’s House, Part 2; Bright Star; A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder; Skylight; Fish in the Dark; Fela!; The Norman Conquests; 33 Variations; 13; A Catered Affair; Well; Medea; and The Retreat from Moscow. Off-Broadway credits include True Love, Shockheaded Peter, Coraline, and Sleep No More.
Brady Brophy-Hilton · Assistant Director
Jesse Garrett · Debate Coach
Victoria Northridge · Studio Teacher
Jessica Berman · Vocal Coach
* Indicates a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Schreck’s wonderfully raw and messy exploration of personal and political will is curiously refreshing…Schreck is a nimble-witted writer…and she’s also a lively and endearing performer…Pulsing with a rough-and-tumble improvisatory feel…Schreck takes a deep dive through her own personal history and how intimately entwined the interpretation of the amendments has been with her family’s destiny…She traces the impact of the Constitution’s blind spots on generations of the women in her family with devastating results. The violence and oppression that these generations of women bore in the name of their husband’s rights is quite chilling…Bravery is also part of Schreck’s character and part of the appeal of this show in the #MeToo era. Shreck’s passion is infectious and the questions she poses demand to be reckoned with.”
Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
Heidi Schreck’s Constitution entertains, enlightens…the show is not only educational (do you know what all the clauses of Amendment 14 are about?), but also gratifyingly entertaining. That’s because Schreck gracefully weaves strands of history, politics and her own personal story (and those of her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother) into a Talmudic examination of our Constitution in surprising, sometimes humorous, ways. And because she’s such a guileless and charismatic actress.”
San Francisco Examiner
Heidi Schreck has the sweeping imagination, the cutting intellect and the conspiratorial warmth to…soar…The show, inspired by the scholarship-winning speeches she gave as a high schooler to American Legion halls, makes our founding document breathe with life and pulse with magic, especially as she relates it to forging her own brand of feminism…She makes the political intimately, immediately, invasively personal.”
San Francisco Chronicle
Schreck is assured and charming in her delivery of the subject matter through the 90-minute, no-intermission play. Largely a one-woman show, Schreck is ably aided by Danny Wolohan…who plays the debate judge, and local first-rate debater, 15-year-old Anaya Mathews. Obie Award-winning Oliver Butler adeptly directs the piece, keeping its combination of homeyness and intellectual Constitutional analysis on track.”
It is not shy to share its charms, and becomes extremely personal, with Schreck sharing stories of the previous three generations of women in her family and their struggles…The final 15 minutes takes on a bit more of an urgent tone, with an actual high school debater who chooses a side in an impromptu debate with Schreck. In addition to the lively debate, there is a question and answer session where…they quizzed each other about favorite books, sounds and general random information. What to make of this? It’s awkward and disjointed and doesn’t always seem to connect. But you know what? So is the Constitution. It’s awkward and disjointed and doesn’t always seem to connect. The fact that it lives and affects every aspect of our lives, shaping our existence in these United States, for better or worse, is what gives it its power. And at the end of the day, there are two women at different phases of their lives sitting on the stage, chatting away. The information they shared may be trivial, but its their voices we hear. Their goofy, silly, imperfect and powerful feminine voices. In a world where women often must shout to be heard, a play about the Constitution which ended with two women just sharing their thoughts takes on its own kind of poignancy. More than anything, it’s simply a lovely, lovely sound.”
Bay Area Plays
Official trailer: What the Constitution Means to Me
Get a sneak peek at Heidi Schreck’s lively examination of our celebrated document.
Behind the scenes: Playwright/performer Heidi Schreck
Heidi discusses her new show, What the Constitution Means to Me.
Photos courtesy of Alessandra Mello/Berkeley Repertory Theatre
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Docent talks and discussions
Pre-show docent talks
Meet us in the Theatre an hour before the show on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings and Sunday matinees for an engrossing presentation about your subscription-season play. Hear about the playwright’s perspective, dive into the historical context, and discover why the script is relevant right now. Each 30-minute talk includes plenty of time for your questions.
Post-show docent-led discussions
Join your fellow audience members after all matinees and share your thoughts on the show.
Teen Night gives local teens the opportunity to meet for dinner and a behind-the-scenes discussion with a member of the artistic team before attending each subscription-season production at an extremely discounted price.
- Friday, May 4, 2018
Stick around after select performances for lively Q&A sessions with our artists on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday nights.
- Friday, May 18, 2018
- Tuesday, May 22, 2018
- Thursday, June 14, 2018