On May 11 in Teton County, What the Constitution Means to Me opens a two week run in the Black Box at the JH Center for the Arts. If you haven't seen it – and even if you have – you should get yourself to Jackson and check it out.
Off Square Theatre presents playwright Heidi Schreck’s boundary-breaking play, which breathes new life into our Constitution and imagines how it will shape the next generation of Americans. Fifteen-year-old Heidi earned her college tuition by winning constitutional debate competitions across the United States. In this hilarious, hopeful and achingly human new play, she resurrects her teenage self in order to trace the profound relationship between four generations of women and the founding document that shaped their lives.
Theater, democracy and debate collide in Off Square Theatre's production of What the Constitution Means to Me by Heidi Schreck. Playing in the Black Box at the Center for the Arts May 11-14 & 18-21. The play features one of Jackson's top high school debaters in the cast!
If you want to dig deeper, join a community conversation in Jackson, Gillette, Casper, Torrington, or Sheridan. The authors of Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights and the Flaws that Affect Us Today are coming to Wyoming to engage in a lively conversation. Free copies of their book are available at Teton County Library and through the other participating communities.
We've written about What the Constitution Means to Me on this site before (you can check it out here) and if you care about things like, oh, you know, democracy – and history, community, autonomy, hope, and WOMEN – this is the play for you! (And everyone you know so that you can talk about it long after you leave the theater!) This play is, ostensibly, about the past (the Constitution is, you know, old) but it invites us to interrogate our present so that we can more fully live into the promise of our future.
We want you to go see it. We want you to participate in the opportunities around the state. We want you to use this as a chance to open some new dialogue and make a difference in our democracy. We are optimistic – in spite of, well, everything – about the possibility that is the future.
The following comes from the Producer's Note (full disclosure: Natalia D. Macker, co-founder here at WWAN, is the show's producer). Read on.
“The Constitution is a living document. That is what is so beautiful about it. It is a living, warm-blooded, steamy document. It is not a patchwork quilt. It is hot and sweaty. It is a crucible.” - Heidi in What the Constitution Means to Me
When democracy was born in Athens 2,500 years ago, it came just on the heels of the creation of the Western theatrical tradition. The word ‘theatre’ comes from the Greek ‘theatron’ – literally translating to ‘seeing place’ and referring, at the time, specifically to the audience seating area in Greek amphitheaters. Those who were in the ‘seeing place’ for the premiere of What the Constitution Means to Me in 2019 knew immediately the great promise of this new play.
This piece of theatre swirls together theatre, democracy, and community. It makes us laugh while holding up the mirror to show us the (sometimes ugly) truth. It brings us together to ask questions, not profess answers.
As you already know, there is much more than ‘seeing’ involved in being an audience. You have brought your own perspective into the room, and your neighbor has brought theirs. In a moment when we are all tempted to stick with who and what we know, you have shown up to share an experience with strangers. This play will ask you to be compassionately critical as you consider our nation’s founding document and how it affects each one of our lives.
Remember, as you ‘see’ this play, the meaning behind the Greek ‘drama’ – to make, do, act.
Remember, as you sit forward in your seat, that America isn't a foregone conclusion to be taken for granted, but a commitment to each other that was made once and is constantly being re-made. This commitment is bound up in ideas, perseverance, and unceasing change.
The living, beating heart of this play is you.
Over the next year, dozens of productions of this play will start conversations in communities large and small across our nation. Here in Wyoming, we invite you to courageously embrace the idea that we don't have to agree to be able to connect and that the debate of ideas is a path forward.
This moment demands active engagement from all of us. The next generation is counting on us, and as you'll no doubt see, they are not waiting in the wings.
Still reading? Yay!
We're giving away a limited number of tickets. Want some?
Tell us the most pressing issue facing women in Wyoming today
We'll pick three lucky winners from the entries and give them two tickets to the show of their choice
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR:
Allison Watrous (she/her) is the Executive Director of Education and Community Engagement at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, which has been her artistic home for over 25 years as an educator, actor and director. What the Constitution Means to Me will be Allison’s second full production with Off Square, following her production in 2018 of Annapurna.
Acting work includes Kelly Young in Just Like Us, A Christmas Carol, John Brown’s Body and Scapin (Denver Center Theatre Company); Girls Only - The Secret Comedy of Women (Denver Center Cabaret); Astronomical Sunset (Curious Theatre Company), and Savage in Limbo, Crimes of the Heart, American Notes, Talley’s Folly and Gidion’s Knot (Sis Tryst Productions).
Directing work includes Annapurna, The Revolutionists, Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike (Off Square Theatre Company), Cult Following, Little Red, Goodnight Moon and Corduroy (Denver Center), Bus Stop (Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities), The Revolutionists (BETC), Brighton Beach Memoirs (Miners Alley Playhouse), Big Love and Trojan Women (University of Denver), and Failure: A Love Story, The Laramie Project, Eurydice, Wintertime, Arcadia and The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Denver School of the Arts).
Allison studied at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center’s National Theatre Institute, earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre at Drake University, and holds a Masters’ Degree in Fine Arts in Acting from the National Theatre Conservatory.
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT:
Heidi Schreck is a writer and performer living in Brooklyn. Her critically acclaimed, award-winning play What the Constitution Means to Me played an extended, sold-out run on Broadway in 2019, and was nominated for two Tony Awards. It had subsequent sold-out runs at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., as well as at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and its national tour concluded in April 2022.
A filmed version of What the Constitution Means to Me, starring Schreck, premiered in fall 2020 exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, and was nominated for a Critics Choice Award, a PGA Award, and a DGA Award. What the Constitution Means to Me was named Best of the Year by The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Time Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter, The New Yorker and more; NPR named it one of the “50 Great Pop Culture Moments” of 2019.
Schreck’s other plays Grand Concourse, Creature and There Are No More Big Secrets have been produced all over the country and she has worked as a stage actor in NYC for almost 20 years. Her screenwriting credits include I Love Dick, Billions, Nurse Jackie and shows in development with Amazon Studios, Big Beach, Imagine Television and A24.
As both an actor and writer she is the recipient of three Obie Awards, a Drama Desk Award, and a Theatre World Award, as well as the Horton Foote Playwriting Award and the Hull-Warriner Award from the Dramatists Guild. She was named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business in 2019 and was featured on Variety’s 2019 Broadway Impact List. Schreck was awarded Smithsonian Magazine’s 2019 American Ingenuity Award for her work in the Performing Arts.