Students looking to get psyched about the United States Constitution are in luck. The Tony Award-nominated play “What the Constitution Means to Me” announced Friday that the production will be working with the Mayor’s Fund to subsidize tickets for hundreds of students with the launch of the NYC Civics and Arts Fund.
The Fund’s relationship with “What the Constitution Means to Me” marks the program’s first collaboration with a Broadway show. The initiative plans to work with organizations such as the New York Theatre Workshop, the Debate Society, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the New-York Historical Society to help determine which students qualify for the program and to provide educational resources. The mission of the Fund, according to the statement, is to “connect young adults to art performances and creative programs that promote civics learning, thinking and engagement.”
The announcement adds to a growing amount of buzz surrounding the break-out success of “What the Constitution Means to Me,” which has raked up awards including the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, an Obie Award for Best New American Play, in addition to being named a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
Written by Heidi Schreck (who also stars in the production) and directed by Oliver Butler, the play originated off-Broadway before making its way to Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theater this spring — a move that exposed the story of a 15-year-old Schreck dealing with her personal, and often thorny, relationship with the Constitution to a new audience.
“Growing up, I was fortunate to be able to attend live theater and it changed my life,” Schreck said in a statement to ALL ARTS. “It gave me an understanding of the world beyond my small town upbringing and brought me so much joy. I am deeply honored to partner with the Mayor’s Fund to hopefully pass on some of that joy by making live theater more accessible to young people today.”
The play, performed by Schreck with explosive intensity, is drawn from the performer’s own teen years, during which she traveled to various American Legion halls across the country to debate aspects of the Constitution. Throughout the 100-minute piece, Shreck dons a yellow blazer (a color of the national women’s suffrage movement) to reenact the speeches from her competition days. As she moves through the material, Schreck laces together a legacy of trauma, passed down through generations of women like a leaded suit, with a meditation on how the Constitution both perpetuates injustices against women and provides room for these inequalities to be addressed.
The discounted tickets provided through the Fund will be available to eligible students through the remainder of the show’s run, which was recently extended through Aug. 24, 2019.
Top Image: Heidi Schreck in "What the Conststution Means to Me." Photo: Joan Marcus.