Review: ‘What the Constitution Means to Me’ at New York Theatre Workshop

The set of "What the Constitution Means to Me" at the New York Theatre Workshop

By Jonathan Spira on 22 October 2018
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As a somewhat precocious high school student in Wenatchee, Washington, Heidi Schreck was a kind of child prodigy in speech, participating and triumphing in the American Legion Oratorical Contest at her mother’s behest.

The program focuses on the history of U.S. law and the ability to think and speak clearly. What Schreck won in these debate competitions paid for her college tuition at a state school, she proudly informs us.

Indeed, “What the Constitution Means to Me” was the topic of her debates, arguing it was more of a crucible of “sizzling and steamy conflict,” while her erstwhile opponent, Becky Lee Dobbins from Lawrence, Kansas, would explain “how the Constitution was like a patchwork quilt,” she tells us.


This explains the 1980s-style wood paneled set with a podium, the Stars and Stripes and a Legion flag on poles, and framed photographic portraits of perhaps over one hundred white male veterans on the wall. Set designer Rachel Hauck has recreated the American Legion hall based on Schreck’s memories of her youth.

“It’s like one of those crime-scene drawings,” she explains.

Under the watchful eye of Mike Iveson, who, as moderator, could pass for one of the Wenatchee Legionaires, Schreck conjures up her 15-year-old self on stage. She moves back and forth between then and now to tell what she has learnt since then and to share the stories of some of her female ancestors who ultimately may have benefitted from some of the amendments to the Constitution that she holds so dear.

Click here to continue to Page 2Her Personal Connection to the Constitution

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