What the Constitution Means to Me

What the Constitution Means to Me

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.

Creative team

Heidi Schreck · Playwright
Oliver Butler · Director
Rachel Hauck · Scenic Design
Michael Krass · Costume Design
Jennifer Schriever · Lighting Design
Sinan Refik Zafar · Sound Design
Amy Potozkin · Casting
Betsy Norton · Stage Manager
Brady Brophy-Hilton · Assistant Director
Jesse Garrett · Debate Coach
Bradley Hopper · Production Assistant
Victoria Northridge · Studio Teacher
Jessica Berman · Vocal Coach


Wisdom Kunitz · Wisdom
Anaya Matthews · Anaya
Heidi Schreck · Heidi
Danny Wolohan · Danny

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

Watch now

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.

See photos

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Photos courtesy of Alessandra Mello/Berkeley Repertory Theatre

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