What the Constitution Means to Me

APRIL 1-APRIL 28, 2019

  • By Heidi Schreck
  • Directed by Oliver Butler
  • 90 minutes, with no intermission

It’s 1989, and young Heidi is trying to earn enough money to go to college by entering speech competitions about the U.S. Constitution in American Legion halls all across the country. When she loses the first round to Becky Dobbins because her speech isn’t personal enough, she decides to go deep. Starting with her great-great-grandmother, a mail-order bride who died of “melancholia,” she pries into the effects of a single sentence of the Ninth Amendment on generations of American women and men. Before the night is over, she’s engaged in a fierce, impromptu debate with a local teen over the future of our inalienable rights.

Written by Obie Award-winning writer/performer Heidi Schreck (I Love Dick, Billions, Nurse Jackie), What the Constitution Means to Me is an exhilarating experience that “finds the political, and the powerful, in the personal.” (New York Magazine)

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.


"Both winsome love letter to and worried critique of one of the nation’s founding documents"

New York Times

"Personal, political, and uncannily timed."


"Perhaps most incredibly of all, the show offers evidence that there are still reasons to have faith in the future of America. It’s a gift as improbable as it is welcome. For ninety blessed minutes, the world seems sane again."

New Yorker

"[What the Constitution Means to Me is] redefining what political theatre could be, something that was not polemic or didactic, but personal and urgent. America was founded on dissent and debate, and through dissent it has been made “more perfect.”"

American Theatre

"Anguished, deeply personal, and ultimately hopeful look at whose rights are protected and respected under our governing document and whose are not."

New York Stage Review

"This isn’t a debate play or a play that reanimates a debate structure. It is angry, but with a forthright, unsinkable smile and implicit belief in principle and the future."

The Daily Beast

About the Playwright: Heidi Schreck

HEIDI SCHRECK (Playwright) 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. 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, 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.

About the Director: Oliver Butler

OLIVER BUTLER (Director) 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, Berkeley Rep). 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).