TheatreSquared takes searching look at America’s Constitution in Heidi Schreck comedy

TheatreSquared takes searching look at America’s Constitution in Heidi Schreck comedy

At the beginning, “What the Constitution Means to Me” feels very much like stand-up comedy. What else would bring a dynamic young woman like the playwright, Heidi Schreck, to a series of American Legion halls to discuss “a dry, dead scrap of antique paper”?

The answer, of course, is that this is the living, breathing document that shapes the U.S. democracy. And as Schreck says in her play, on stage now at TheatreSquared in Fayetteville, it was never intended to protect all Americans, just those white male ones who owned property. And she learns that the hard way.

During its run in New York, The New York Times hailed “What the Constitution Means to Me” as “not just the best play to open on Broadway this season, but also the most important.” The Washington Post added that “it would be hard to find a work for the theater with its finger more on the pulse of America right now.”

But Amy Herzberg, T2 founding member and director of the current production, says the history lesson — which becomes very personal for the character — is “funny, important, and ultimately optimistic.”

“I love how the play, through its interactive aspects, invites us all in to ask the title question,” she says. “It’s not what the Constitution means to Heidi Schreck, the playwright, but what it means to all of us.”

Schreck is played on the T2 stage by Kelsey Venter, most recently seen in the national tour of “Dear Evan Hansen” and hailed by one critic for her emotional range and her ability to keep her pivotal scenes “grounded in reality.”

“The first time I saw the show, I was struck by how much I related to Heidi,” Venter says. “I felt like so many things that I’d thought or experienced myself that I hadn’t been able to put into words, she was speaking and expressing with so much eloquence, gravity, and humor.

“It was also so refreshing to see a piece of theater that was absolutely charged and exploring challenging, important questions, but that was doing it with so much joy and optimism,” she continues. “Before this opportunity came along, I was definitely searching for a way to use my particular skill set to make an impact, to affect change.

“I think that one of the great powers of theater is its ability to allow the audience and company to come together and commune, to experience the world from different perspectives in real time. This piece is a beautiful expression of that.”

Venter says the play has challenged her as an actress and as a woman living in 2024.

As an actress, she says, she has faced the challenges of 20-plus pages of monologue “with very few moments of direct interaction with my castmates,” which she calls overwhelming at first. Then she realized, she says, that in a show that constantly breaks the fourth wall, “my relationship to the audience really does become my main connection, which is a really magical thing. I’ve got you all right there, ready to take this journey with me.”

As a woman, “one of the things that really struck me was becoming more aware of the actual statistics about violence against women and the shortcomings our Constitution and justice system have demonstrated in addressing it.”

“Engaging with this piece in the way I have been has really illuminated for me some of the things that, as a woman, I’ve normalized and internalized that are really distressing,” she muses. “Things that I didn’t fully recognize were distressing because I’ve become so used to carrying them. The questions that Heidi is wrestling with throughout the show are very much questions that I wrestle with as well, and I’ve been very grateful to have her much more eloquent words to help me in grappling with them.”

As the principal supporting character, Bruch Reed says “the play forces me to think actively about improving things.”

“I also recognize and acknowledge that as a middle-aged white cisgender male, I approach the [topic] from a place of inherent white male privilege,” he says. “I cannot help but be who I am. No one can. I am listening hard to the play, every day, every night, and thinking as hard as I can. Our job is to enable the audience to do that, too, long after the last bell dings.

“We are living through a very dangerous time in history and only time will tell who will write it,” Reed concludes. “For now, I’m sure grateful to Heidi Schreck for building this dramatic vehicle and to TheatreSquared for giving me the chance to ride along.”



‘What The Constitution Means To Me’

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2 & 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday, through March 3

WHERE — TheatreSquared in Fayetteville

COST — $43-$68

INFO — 777-7477 or

Categories: Theater