What the Constitution Means to Me, streaming on Prime Video, is a filmed Broadway production. It is written and performed by Heidi Schreck. She takes you on a funny, brilliant, angry, hopeful, tour of American law from past to present.
What the Constitution Means to Me is built around the idea of Heidi as a 15 year old, writing essays about the Constitution to earn money for college. But it expands far beyond that. It’s factual, historical, personal, funny, heartbreaking, and deeply relevant to the times.
Heidi starts with an aspect of the Constitution – perhaps the 9th Amendment or the 14th Amendment. She veers off into personal stories about her family and the violence women endured in her family. She talks about how the laws weren’t written to include women and still don’t protect women. She ranges from stories about her great-great grandmother to quotes from William O. Douglas.
She sometimes seems to be losing the plot, but she is carefully constructing a story that will bring home her points about the law. There’s a man on the stage throughout. He’s mostly quiet but has his own points to make. The actor in the film is Mike Iveson.
We hear the voices of Justices on the Supreme Court as cases are argued. We learn some history about the Supreme Court and decisions that relate to the Constitution. Women’s rights are frequently the focus of forays into a wide range of topics.
Heidi brings out a teenaged girl, a debater and young woman of color. In the film it’s mainly Rosdely Ciprian, but we also see glimpses of Thursday Williams in the part. Heidi and the young woman debate the question of whether the Constitution should be abolished and a new one written.
Heidi Schrecks’ brilliant performance in this play reminds me of Hannah Gadsby: Nanette or John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons. It’s mostly one woman on a stage making heartfelt and funny arguments about American law and how it affects women (and men) and the future.
The play has been performed many times with changing casts. The filmed version was directed by Marielle Heller. It feels very like a stage production, with glimpses of the audience and their reactions. In the end, an audience member even stood up and took a mic to announce the winner of the debate. The end credits list which way the audience has voted in each performance.
Brava to Heidi Schreck for writing and performing this passionate and brilliant treatise on the American Constitution.
Have a look at the teaser.
This show is relevant and brilliant. Please watch it.