Heidi Schreck’s What The Constitution Means to Me is the little show that could – and is doing! The politically-infused work, which debuted off-Broadway in 2018 and later premiered on Broadway the following year, is about to be released to a worldwide audience. The film is set to stream on Amazon Prime Video beginning on October 16th. Entertainment journalist Frank DiLella recently caught up with Schreck to talk about this milestone for her very personal play.
FRANK DILELLA: Heidi – your film is one of the hottest films streaming this fall… how does that make you feel?
HEIDI SCHRECK: It’s all a little bit surreal. We filmed this our last week on Broadway and we weren’t sure when it would be coming out. So it’s quite an interesting time to be debuting it.
Take me back to the beginning – how did this play come about?
I started writing the play over 10 years ago. I just was interested in writing about being a teenage girl in the 80s and this contest I did, where I would travel the country giving speeches about The Constitution. It was such an important part of my teenage years. I did it all through high school. I thought it would be fascinating to make a play looking at a teenage girl through the lens of this contest.
How has your life changed throughout this process… from creating the show up until now?
It’s weird because doing the contest was my entire teenage years. And now I feel like making the play and performing the play has been a large part of my adulthood. I really thought the play would have a very limited appeal. I performed at first downtown for a small audience. I thought that that was probably its perfect home. I didn’t expect it to keep going from theater to theater. I certainly never expected it to go to Broadway. So now having it go out into the world to so many people – it’s gratifying and pretty scary. My life has changed so much, I am a mother now – I gave birth to twins in April. So suddenly I’m a family of 4, and now this play is going out into the world.
You have 2 young women in your company. You had them on Broadway and they are a part of your film. What was it like having these 2 young debaters as part of this project?
I would say getting to work with Rosdely Ciprian and Thursday Williams night after night has been the best part of doing this play for the last couple of years. First of all, they’re both brilliant, and being in conversation with them every day, hanging out with them at the theater every day, I love them and enjoy spending time with them. And then it also just makes me feel really hopeful about the future. It makes me feel hopeful about our country. It makes me remember just what we have to fight for.
Do you see a young Heidi in both of these women?
Absolutely. I mean, look, I would be so lucky if young Heidi had been as great as either of them. But I see the best parts of myself in them.
When this show was on Broadway. you really became a part of the political landscape. Big time elected officials showed up at your stage door nightly to say “hi.”
I feel really honored that they came and also it was exciting because I think when I was making the play, I listened to hundreds of hours of Supreme Court cases. And I listened to Justice Ginsburg – and never in a million years dreamed that she would ever see the play I made or that I would have the honor of meeting her.
With the 2020 Presidential Election upon us, are you hoping to influence and inform voters with this film?
I’m not trying to influence any voters. It’s very much like a personal exploration of my own with becoming an adult and also coming to terms with my own history and the history of this country and coming to terms with my place as a woman in this culture. I don’t think to influence anyone or change anyone’s mind or anything like that. I am excited that so many people will get to experience the story. And also maybe think about the questions that the play raises and maybe have conversations about it.
What’s your hope for this chapter of What The Constitution Means To Me, now that it’s reaching a global audience?
I think one thing I’m most excited about is – I grew up in a small town very far from New York City. I’m 3000 miles from New York City. I couldn’t go to Broadway growing up. I lived 3 hours from Seattle, which was, you know, the biggest city, so I didn’t get to go to theater regularly. And so really the best part about this for me is that someone like me will get a chance to go to the theater. [Growing up] I had a worn-out videotape of Sweeney Todd that I played over and over again. And that was Broadway to me. And so I’m just really excited that people who don’t normally have access [to Broadway] will get to see the show.
Last updated and effective as of January 14, 2019
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