As we get closer to Election Day, the debates people are having about Biden and Trump only seem to further polarize our country. What better way to prepare for or celebrate voting than to brush up on the supreme law of our land—the United States Constitution?
The last time I learned about this document was in high school, and unlike Heidi Schreck, who wrote and stars in What The Constitution Means to Me, the Broadway hit now streaming on Amazon Prime, “warm-blooded” and “steamy” are not the words I’d use to describe it. Yet Schreck makes a strong case for her evaluation.
The story begins in 1989, with Schreck playing her 15-year-old self, a kid who competed in and won prize money as a Constitutional debater — enough money, in fact, to eventually pay for college. From there, the show turns to examining what the Constitution means to Heidi Schreck today. Inspired by women she knows, Schreck unleashes gutting anecdotes and real statistics that suggest that maybe, just maybe, the Constitution that once held our country together is currently failing to protect such vulnerable groups as womxn, immigrants, and people of color. As her compassionate heart pours out on stage, viewers begin to listen and slowly to realize the severity of the injustices these people continue to face every day. The hardest thing to swallow? How little has changed for the above mentioned groups since 1989. Womxn are still being violated and silenced, people in the LGBTQ+ community (particularly the trans community) are being murdered at an all-time high rate, immigrants are still being criminalized, and racial bias still exists against people of color.
The end of the show involves an interactive, unscripted debate that pits Schreck against a current high school student, Rosdely Ciprian, over whether or not the Constitution should be abolished. In my eyes, and those of many others, Ciprian wins the contest. As an ex-Speech and Debate competitor myself, not only was I impressed by the civility, intelligence, and hilariousness of the discussion, I was dazzled by Ciprian’s incredible poise, because when I was 15, I was a nervous wreck before every round. Watching the creative arguments and critical rebuttals on both sides gave me hope that the younger generation is not just interested in becoming TikTok influencers, but that they are also a diverse, passionate group inspired to spearhead change.
After the show, I was moved to ask myself what the Constitution means to me, as a Gen. Z woman. I still don’t think I’d describe it as “warm-blooded” or “steamy,” but I would say it’s a spirited, yet developing document capable of granting equity and equality, but only as long as people continue to call for change so it can meet America where it is today. This comical and authentic show deserves a place on your essential watch list, along with the presidential and the vice-presidential debates. It’ll definitely have you on the edge of your seat, or rather closer to your screen while at home.
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