2019 Tony Nominees

12.07.18

Heidi Schreck Discusses New York Theatre Workshop's "What The Constitution Means To Me"

Heidi Schreck's "What the Constitution Means to Me" was the hit of the fall season. Fifteen-year-old Schreck put herself through college by giving speeches about the U.S. Constitution. Now, the Obie Award winner resurrects her teenage self in order to trace the document's profound impact on women's bodies—starting with her great-great-grandmother, a mail-order bride who died under mysterious circumstances. This witty and searingly personal exploration breathes new life into our founding document and imagines how it will shape the next generation of American women.

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** As Captioned Live **

>>> THANKS, EVERYBODY. WELCOME TO BUILD. I'M YOUR HOST RICKY CAMILLERI. ONE OF THE BEST PLAYS OF THE YEAR, DEFINITELY THE BEST ONE PERSON SHOW IS "WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME" BY AND STARRING HEIDI SCHRECK. AT THE AGE OF 15, MISS SCHRECK TRAVELED ACROSS THE NORTHWEST DEBATING AND LECTURING ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION. SHE USED THAT MONEY TO GO TO COLLEGE NOW AND NOW HAS TAKEN HER ADULTHOOD, WHAT SHE WITNESSED IN THE WORLD, HER FAMILY'S HISTORY TO APPLY A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON THE CONSTITUTION. THE SHOW IS HILARIOUS, HEART BREAKING AND INSIGHTFUL. PLEASE WELCOME THE GREAT HEIDI SCHRECK. LET'S HEAR IT.

>> THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME. I'M SO HAPPY TO BE HERE. HI.

>> I'M SO HAPPY TO GET THE CHANCE TO TALK TO YOU. I TALK TO A LOT OF PEOPLE ABOUT MOVIES AND TV AND PLAYS AND EVERY NOW AND THEN YOU GET SOMEONE AND YOU THINK YOU'VE SEEN SOMETHING GENIUS. "WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME" SEEMS LIKE A GENIUS WORK, SOMETHING THAT WAS LABORED OVER FOR YEARS. YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION SINCE YOU WERE 15.

>> YES, A LONG TIME AGO.

>> WHEN DID YOU START RETHINKING ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION AND START THINKING IT COULD BE A ONE PERSON SHOW, WHICH IS KIND OF IS, EXCUSE ME.

>> THERE ARE THREE OF US. BUT I DO TAKE A LOT OF THE STAGE TIME. I STARTED THINKING ABOUT THE PROJECT TEN YEARS AGO. I HONESTLY DON'T REMEMBER WHY. AT FIRST MY IDEA WAS SIMPLE. I WANTED TO MAKE A PLAY ABOUT THIS CONTEST I DID AS A 15-YEAR-OLD. I THOUGHT IT WAS AN INTERESTING PREMISE FOR A PLAY. AND AS I BEGAN RESEARCHING IT, I STARTED TO GO DOWN SOME VERY INTERESTING PATHS BOTH IN TERMS OF THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY AND IN TERMS OF THE HISTORY OF MY FAMILY. AND WHAT HAPPENED TO THE WOMEN IN MY FAMILY OVER MANY GENERATIONS.

>> AND YOUR WOMEN END UP IN -- THE WOMEN OF YOUR FAMILY IN SOME WAYS END UP REPRESENTING NOT JUST THE WOMEN OF THIS COUNTRY, BUT THE WAY THAT MINORITIES AND THOSE WHO ARE NOT RICH WHITE MEN WHO WROTE THE CONSTITUTION HAD BEEN KIND OF TREATED OR AT THE MERCY OF THE CONSTITUTION OVER A THE FOUNDING.

>> OR FRANKLY JUST LEFT OUT OF THE CONSTITUTION, OR WORSE.

>> YEAH. WAS IT DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO START INCLUDING YOUR FAMILY WHEN YOU STARTED HAVING THOSE IDEAS? IT IS VERY DIFFERENT TO HAVE THOSE IDEAS AND THEN TO START WRITING IT ON PAPER AND THEN PERFORMING IT IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE.

>> YES, IT WAS SCARY, SO I GREW UP -- I KNEW MY FAMILY'S STORIES FROM THE TIME I WAS PRETTY YOUNG, ABOUT THE TIME I WAS DOING THE CONTEST AT 15, I KNEW ABOUT THE SORT OF LEGACY OF DOMESTIC ABUSE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT IN MY FAMILY ON MY MOM'S SIDE. AND WE GREW UP TALKING ABOUT THESE THINGS OPENLY. MY MOM WAS VERY ACTIVELY SUPPORTIVE OF OTHER SURVIVORS AND DID A LOT OF ADVOCACY, SO I DIDN'T THINK IT WOULD BE A THING I WAS SCARED TO TALK ABOUT, BUT WHEN I BEGAN TO TALK ABOUT IT ON STAGE, I ACTUALLY REALIZED I WAS TERRIFIED. I DIDN'T REALIZE HOW DEEPLY I HAD INTERNALIZED THE TABOO ABOUT TALKING ABOUT THESE KINDS OF THINGS.

>> WHEN YOU GO INTO THE DETAILS OF THOSE STORIES ON STAGE, IT IS HEART BREAKING, I WAS MOVED, I WAS CRYING, YOU'RE CRYING ON STAGE AS WELL, YOU'RE DOING THIS EVERY NIGHT. MAYBE YOU -- DO YOU DO TWO SHOWS A DAY SOMETIMES AS WELL?

>> I DO, YEAH.

>> AT THIS POINT, DO YOU FIND YOU ARE PERFORMING THAT -- TELLING THE STORY OR IS IT STILL VERY NATURAL, IT JUST COMES OUT?

>> I DON'T. IT IS A GOOD QUESTION. I DON'T ATTEMPT TO FEEL ANY CERTAIN WAY WHILE I'M TELLING THE STORIES AND AS YOU KNOW, A LOT OF THE PLAY IS FUNNY, LIKE, IT GOES DOWN DIFFERENT KINDS OF PATHS. I GET TO THE PART ABOUT MY FAMILY HISTORY, I JUST TRY TO TELL THE STORY AS OPENLY AND CLEARLY AS POSSIBLE. AND SORT OF GO WITH WHATEVER I'M FEELING ON ANY PARTICULAR NIGHT.

>> THE PLAY IS VERY MUCH LIKE THIS RIGHT NOW. AND IN THE SENSE THAT IT IS SMART, IT IS HARROWING, BUT DELIVERED WITH THIS REALLY SWEET SMILE THE WHOLE TIME THAT IS JUST INFECTIOUS AND NO MATTER WHERE YOU'RE GOING, PEOPLE ARE FOLLOWING YOU AND ARE COMPLETELY WRAPPED UP IN WHAT YOU'RE SAYING. I THINK YOU COULD HAVE CURSED THIS OUT, LIKE, HEIDI, OKAY, LET'S KEEP GOING.

>> SOMETIMES I TURN ON THE AUDIENCE A LITTLE BIT. IF YOU'RE OPENING CANDY WRAPPERS, I GET A LITTLE NASTY.

>> THAT MUST BE THRILLING THAT YOU DEVISED A PLAY THAT YOU CAN INTERACT.

>> I LOVE INTERACTING WITH THE AUDIENCE DURING IT. IT IS VERY FUN FOR ME, ACTUALLY.

>> I THREW SOMEBODY A COUGH DROP THE OTHER NIGHT. THEY WERE COUGHING. IT WAS BOTHERING ME. BUT THEY WERE SUFFERING, I HAVE COUGH DROPS ON STAGE I'LL THROW OUT TO THE AUDIENCE.

>> HAS YOUR IDEA OF THE CONSTITUTION CHANGED SINCE YOU'VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS, NOT SIMPLY BECAUSE OF HOW YOU'VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS, BUT IN THE LAST THREE YEARS, THE WAY THIS COUNTRY STARTED TO TALK ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION?

>> YES, I THINK THE -- I MEAN, FIRST OF ALL, I NEVER EXPECTED TO BE PERFORMING THIS PLAY AT THIS MOMENT. SO THAT HAS BEEN KIND OF OVERWHELMING. I FIRST PERFORMED THE PLAY IN 2015 WHEN OBAMA WAS PRESIDENT, IT WAS A VERY DIFFERENT TIME. BUT ALL THE THINGS I'M TALKING ABOUT IN THE PLAY HAVE BEEN TRUE FOR CENTURIES, THEY JUST -- THINGS LIKE THE WAY -- THE WAY PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY HAVE NOT BEEN TREATED AS FULL HUMAN BEINGS SINCE THE BEGINNING OF OUR COUNTRY, NOW WE'RE IN A MOMENT WHERE IT IS BEING TALKED ABOUT VERY -- IT IS JUST BEING TALKED ABOUT MORE. AND --

>> OPENLY.

>> MORE OPENLY.

>> WE HAVE AN ADMINISTRATION OR PRESIDENT A BIT MORE FLAGRANT IN HIS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ON A DAILY BASIS.

>> YES. SO I -- I GUESS WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION WHILE MAKING IT, FIRST OF ALL, THE BIGGEST THING I LEARNED WAS -- I DIDN'T REALIZE THIS, IS I KNEW OUR CONSTITUTION WAS THE OLDEST, IT IS THE OLDEST WORKING CONSTITUTION IN THE WORLD. I DIDN'T REALIZE THAT HOW MANY COUNTRIES HAD MADE NEW CONSTITUTIONS IN THE 20th AND 21st CENTURY AND HOW ALL OF THESE CONSTITUTIONS PROVIDE WHAT ARE CALLED POSITIVE RIGHTS MEANING THESE KIND OF ACTIVE RIGHTS, THE RIGHT TO AN EQUAL EDUCATION OR THE RIGHT TO HEALTH CARE OR RIGHT TO A MINIMUM STANDARD OF LIVING, ALL OF THESE CONSTITUTIONS ALSO INCLUDE GENDER AND IN SOME CASES EXPLICITLY RACE SO THAT YOU'RE ACTIVELY PROTECTED BY THE CONSTITUTION. OUR CONSTITUTION DOESN'T EXACTLY OPERATE THAT WAY. WE HAVE THE 14th AMENDMENT, WHICH GUARANTEES EQUAL PROTECTION TO EVERYONE.

>> VAGUELY, RIGHT?

>> WRITTEN VAGUELY, NOT EXPLICIT THE WAY THE POSITIVE RIGHTS CONSTITUTIONS ARE. I BEGAN OVER TIME JUST QUESTIONING -- I GREW UP, LIKE MANY OF US, I WAS A SUPER DEBATE NERD. I WAS, LIKE, DEEP INTO THE NFL, WHICH IS THE NATIONAL FORENSICS LEAGUE, NOT FOOTBALL, AND I WAS, LIKE, SO -- I WAS JUST, LIKE, AN EVANGELIST FOR THE CONSTITUTION. I LOOKED AT IT LIKE THE BIBLE.

>> HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

>> I DON'T KNOW. JUST, LIKE -- MY DAD IS A HISTORY TEACHER. HE WAS A HIGH SCHOOL HISTORY TEACHER. MY MOM WAS A DEBATE COACH. I WAS, LIKE, VERY, YOU KNOW, I DON'T KNOW, ALL --

>> YOUR PARENTS' CHILD, CLEARLY.

>> YEAH, YEAH. I WAS SUCH A NERD. I FOUND THIS -- MY MOM SENT ME THIS BOX FILLED WITH MEMORABILIA AND ONE OF THEM IS, LIKE, A LOVE LETTER FROM ANOTHER DEBATER THAT I MET ON THE CIRCUIT WHERE HE'S, LIKE, HEIDI, I'VE BEEN LOOKING AT THE AMENDMENT TOO FOR A WHILE AND I JUST WANT TO TELL YOU THESE IMPORTANT THINGS. I WAS, LIKE, WOW, JUST WRITING ME A LOVE LETTER ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION. AND --

>> DO YOU REMEMBER RECEIVING AND READING THAT LETTER.

>> NO MEMORY OF IT.

>> I WANT TO SEE THE YOUNG -- HEIDI IS, LIKE, OH, MY GOD.

>> REALLY HOT. AND THE SECOND AMENDMENT IS -- SO, YEAH, I GUESS -- I GUESS I JUST -- I, YOU KNOW, I WAS VERY -- I REALLY BELIEVED IT IS THE GREATEST PIECE OF POLITICAL WRITING IN THE WORLD. AND NOW PERFORMING THE PLAY NIGHT AFTER NIGHT I HAVE -- I JUST HAVE A LOT OF -- I BEGAN TO QUESTION THAT AND I HAVE A LOT OF QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS. WHAT IT MEANS WE'RE STILL LIVING BY A DOCUMENT THAT WAS CREATED BY, YES, THEY WERE BRILLIANT, BUT WHITE MEN, MANY OF WHOM WERE SLAVE HOLDERS, AND WHO DELIBERATELY ALLOWED THAT TO BE PART OF THE FOUNDING OF OUR COUNTRY. I JUST WONDER WHAT IT MEANS THAT THAT'S STILL THE THING WE LIVE BY.

>> SO WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU HEAR OF A SUPREME COURT JUSTICE WHO SAYS THEY'RE AN ORIGINALIST?

>> SO MY PERSONAL OPINION IS THAT -- SO IF YOU'RE AN ORIGINALIST, YOU SEE THE DOCUMENT AS A NEUTRAL DOCUMENT, RIGHT? IT IS DESIGNED PRIMARILY TO PROTECT US FROM THE GOVERNMENT, TO, YOU KNOW, ALLOW US TO LIVE WITH AS MUCH QUOTE/UNQUOTE LIBERTY AS POSSIBLE. BUT TO ME THAT'S LOOKING AT THE DOCUMENT AS A KIND OF NEUTRAL DOCUMENT, LIKE ITS JOB IS TO NOT INTERFERE WITH OUR LIVES. I DON'T THINK THERE IS SUCH A THING AS NEUTRALITY. AND IT SEEMS TO ME AT THIS POINT IN OUR COUNTRY, GIVEN THE INEQUALITY OUR COUNTRY WAS BIRTHED OUT OF, THAT TO BE NEUTRAL AT THIS MOMENT IN OUR COUNTRY IS ACTUALLY TO PERPETUATE VIOLENCE. AND I -- AND I THINK THAT'S THE PROBLEM WITH READING IT AS AN ORIGINALIST TEXT. BECAUSE IF YOU DECIDE TO BE AN ORIGINALIST ABOUT IT, WHAT ARE YOU SAYING, THAT WE WANT TO LIVE BY THE SAME VALUES THAT THE MEN WHO CREATED THIS DOCUMENT LIVED BY BECAUSE THEY HAD A LOT OF PROBLEMS.

>> THAT'S WHAT I'VE NEVER UNDERSTOOD ABOUT THE ORIGINALIST ARGUMENT AND WHY ANYBODY GETS BEHIND IT. IT SEEMS LIKE YOU ONLY GET BEHIND IT IF YOU SOLELY CARE ABOUT PROTECTING THE STATUS QUO, EVEN THEN THE STATUS QUO NOW IS DIFFERENT FROM WHAT WAS THE ORIGINALIST IN THE MOMENT. SO WHAT ARE YOU PROTECTING?

>> YEAH.

>> YEAH. I MEAN, THAT'S ONE THING I THINK YOUR PIECE TALKS SO WONDERFULLY ABOUT, ABOUT WHO FOUNDED THE DOCUMENT, AND WHAT DID THE DOCUMENT LOOK LIKE THEN AND WHAT IT WOULD LOOK LIKE NOW IF WE DID NOT MAKE ANY KIND OF IMPROVEMENTS WHAT SO EVER. THERE IS A PART OF THE SHOW THAT ARGUES FOR THE OUTRIGHT ABOLISHMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION, WHICH I'M A FAN OF. I SAY LET'S ROLL. WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE TO PRESENT THAT TO AN AUDIENCE. IT IS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT IS SACRED FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE. THEY DON'T EVEN KNOW WHY. THEY KNOW THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO BE, LIKE, THAT'S AMERICA AND THAT'S THE CONSTITUTION. AND THEN TO BE TOLD THAT MAYBE WE SHOULD ABOLISH IT THROWS THEM OUT OF WHACK.

>> YES. LET ME SAY FOR THE RECORD, I DON'T THINK WE SHOULD ABOLISH IT. I THINK IT IS ACTUALLY -- I'M IN A POSITION OF INCREDIBLE PRIVILEGE EVEN TO BE ABLE TO HAVE THAT THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. I THINK IT WOULD BE SO DANGEROUS FOR SO MANY PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT AS PRIVILEGED AS I AM. SO, BUT, I DO LIKE ARGUING IT BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE IT IS A WAY TO QUESTION ALL THE THINGS WE HOLD SACRED ABOUT IT. IT IS A LITTLE WAY OF, LIKE, TAKING A KNIFE TO THE SACRED COW AND I -- WHAT I DO BELIEVE IS THAT WE NEED AMENDMENTS, I BELIEVE WE NEED AN EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT, I BELIEVE -- I WOULD ARGUE FOR A PROCESS BY WHICH WE AMENDED THE CONSTITUTION TO GIVE MORE POSITIVE RIGHTS TO MORE ACTIVELY ADDRESS THE INEQUALITY IN THIS COUNTRY.

>> YOU KNOW, YOU TOOK TEN YEARS TO WRITE THE PLAY, RIGHT? OR TO REALLY WORKSHOP IT AND TO FIGURE IT OUT.

>> YES.

>> WHAT WAS -- I LOVE HEARING STORIES LIKE THIS, BECAUSE I THINK SO OFTEN, I MEAN AUDIENCES THEY GO SEE A MOVIE OR LISTEN TO A PIECE OF MUSIC OR SEE A PLAY, THEY DON'T KNOW THAT TOOK TEN YEARS TO MAKE OR THREE YEARS TO MAKE. AND IT FEELS LIKE THEY GOT UP ON STAGE AND WROTE SOMETHING AND STARTED PERFORMING, YOU KNOW? YOU HAVE NO IDEA THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPMENT THAT WENT INTO IT. WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR YOU, WHAT DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAD TO DEVELOP OVER THE COURSE OF THESE TEN YEARS, WHERE ALL THE IDEAS NOT THERE INITIALLY AND YOU HAD TO FIND THEM OVER THE COURSE OF THESE TEN YEARS?

>> I HAD TO FIND THE IDEAS, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY I JUST HAD TO TALK TO CONSTITUTIONAL SCHOLARS, I HAD TO READ BOOKS, I HAD TO TRY TO UNDERSTAND -- I DON'T KNOW IF YOU ALL LISTENED TO OYE.COM, LISTEN TO MORE PERFECT, ONE OF MY FAVORITE SHOWS, YOU CAN GO TO OYE.COM AND LISTEN TO THE SUPREME COURT CASES THAT HAVE EVER BEEN ARGUED SINCE RECORDING EXISTED. AND I LISTEN TO JUST HUNDREDS OF HOURS OF SUPREME COURT CASES, LIKE, TRYING TO UNDERSTAND HOW THEY CAME TO SOME OF THE DECISIONS THEY CAME TO. SO IT WAS VERY RESEARCH HEAVY IN THAT WAY. AND ALSO BECAUSE I'M A LAY PERSON, DESPITE MY CHAMPION DEBATE PATH, I AM NOT A LAWYER, I'M NOT A CONSTITUTIONAL SCHOLAR. I HAD TO DO A LOT OF WORK EVEN TO GRASP SOME OF THE CONCEPTS THAT HAD AFFECTED MY LIFE AND THE LIFE OF THE PEOPLE IN MY FAMILY. THAT'S WHAT I FOUND MOST FASCINATING, LISTENING TO THE LEGAL CASES AND THE ARGUMENTS ARE SO COMPLICATED AND OFTEN SOUND LIKE THEY'RE IN A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE AND, YOU'RE, LIKE, I DON'T KNOW WHAT STRICT SCRUTINY IS AND WHAT THIS MEANS AND THIS MEANS. YOU REALIZE DECISIONS HAVE MADE A PROFOUND IMPACT ON YOUR OWN LIFE, AND YET WE DON'T -- I THINK MOST OF US, I KNOW I DIDN'T -- DON'T REALLY UNDERSTAND HOW THESE DECISIONS GET MADE OR WHY.

>> SO STRICT SCRUTINY OR THE WORD SHALL, WHICH IS SOMETHING YOU TALK ABOUT IN YOUR SHOW, HOW OFTEN DID YOU FIND WHEN LISTENING TO THESE HOURS AND HOURS AND HOURS OF SUPREME COURT CASES THAT OFTEN SORT OF INSIGNIFICANT WORDS WERE USED IN ORDER TO CRAFT A DECISION BASED UPON WHAT WAS OBVIOUSLY A PRECONCEIVED NOTION OR IDEA ON THE PART OF SOME JUDGES.

>> I MEAN, ALL THE TIME. THAT'S THE THING I FOUND MOST INTERESTING, ONE, IF YOU LISTEN TO THE RECORDINGS, LIKE THE HUMAN COMEDY OF IT. SOME OF THE ARGUMENTS ARE TERRIBLE. LIKE, SOME OF THE -- I'M, LIKE, I KNOW THESE PEOPLE ARE SMART, THIS IS A CONFUSED ARGUMENT. AND THEN ALSO JUST THE FACT THAT I DID, IN LISTENING TO THEM, I DID REALIZE IT IS LIKE A RELIGIOUS TEXT IN A SENSE, I FEEL LIKE THERE ARE WAYS IN WHICH YOU CAN LOOK AT THE CONSTITUTION, TAKE WHAT YOU ALREADY BELIEVE, AND THEN MAKE IT BACK YOU UP. AND I DID NOTICE THAT IN MANY, MANY CASES.

>> IS THAT FRUSTRATING TO HEAR? THE CONSTITUTION IS SUPPOSED TO BE THIS THING THAT IS -- THAT'S WHY SOMEONE SAYS THEY'RE AN ORIGINALIST, THE CONSTITUTION IS THIS THING THAT HAS ALL OF THE RULES, CLEAR AND PUT THERE FOR THEM.

>> RIGHT.

>> YEAH, IT WAS FRUSTRATING. I THINK IT IS ONE THING THAT MADE ME FEEL LIKE WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO HAVE A POSITIVE RIGHTS CONSTITUTION, WHERE IT SAID EXPLICITLY, YOU KNOW, YOU HAVE TO BE GIVEN EQUAL EDUCATION, YOU HAVE TO BE HEALTH CARE HAS TO BE AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE, YOU EXPLICITLY CANNOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST PEOPLE ON THE BASIS OF SEX, RACE, YOU KNOW. WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO JUST BE CLEARER? BECAUSE I DO FEEL LIKE RIGHT NOW THERE IS A LITTLE BIT OF A SENSE WHERE YOU LOOK AT IT AND IT IS, LIKE, A CRYSTAL BALL OR SOMETHING, YOU CAN KIND OF --

>> IS THAT WHY YOU FOCUS ON THE 14th AMENDMENT OR INITIALLY STARTED? BECAUSE THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT THE 14th AMENDMENT, SECTION ONE, WHERE YOU INITIALLY CRAFTED THE PLAY FROM. BASED ON THE INITIAL IDEA, IT IS A NEGATIVE AMENDMENT, BUT IT IS PROVIDING POSITIVE RIGHTS IN SOME WAY. THE GOVERNMENT SHALL NOT TAKE AWAY ANY LAND. SO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO LAND, ESSENTIALLY.

>> THE 14th AMENDMENT DOES -- THAT WAS AFTER THE CIVIL WAR, ITS PURPOSE WAS IN FACT TO GO IN AND ACTIVELY MAKE SURE THAT THAT PEOPLE AND PARTICULARLY FORMER SLAVES WERE PROTECTED. OVERTURNED DREAD SCOTT VERSUS SANFORD. THE WHOLE POINT WAS TO COME IN AND SAY ACTIVELY MAKE THINGS MORE EQUAL. THE REASON I FOCUSED ON IT AT FIRST, I WAS LOOKING FOR WAYS MY OWN LIFE HAD BEEN PERSONALLY AFFECTED BY THE CONSTITUTION. THE 14th AMENDMENT IS VERY POWERFUL. AND THE 14th AMENDMENT SECTION ONE THAT THEY USED TO DECIDE A LOT OF CASES HAVING TO DO WITH FEMALE BODIES, SO BIRTH CONTROL, GRISWOLD VERSUS CONNECTICUT, ABORTION, ROE V. WADE, THOSE THINGS WHICH HAD DEEPLY AFFECTED MY LIFE AND THEY ALSO HAVE TRIED TO ADDRESS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE USING THE AMENDMENT, THIS SECTION OF THE AMENDMENT, UNSUCCESSFULLY. SO LOOKING AT THOSE THREE THINGS THAT HAD A HUGE IMPACT ON MY OWN LIFE IS HOW I CAME TO FOCUS ON THE 14th AMENDMENT.

>> SORT OF HOW IT CAN BE USED FOR AND/OR AGAINST YOU, RIGHT?

>> YES.

>> GO BACK TO WORKSHOPING THIS, WHAT DID YOU HAVE WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED PERFORMING IT. YOU HAD -- YOU STARTED WITH A MONOLOGUE OR TWO, RIGHT?

>> ALL I HAD WAS THE PREPARED SPEECH. MY SPEECH WHEN I WAS A 15 WAS THE CRUCIBLE OF THE CONSTITUTION. I THINK THAT'S BECAUSE I PLAYED ELIZABETH PROCTER IN THE CRUCIBLE. AND I THOUGHT THAT SEEMED LIKE A FUN -- I DON'T KNOW. I DON'T KNOW WHY I PICKED THAT METAPHOR. THAT'S ALL I HAD. I CALLED MY MOM TO SAY, CAN YOU SEND ME THE SPEECH.

>> METAPHOR WORKS.

>> IT IS GREAT.

>> SO MUCH OF WHAT THE PLAY IS ABOUT IS THE TREATMENT OF -- IS THE TREATMENT OF WOMEN AND HOW THE CONSTITUTION RESPONDS TO WOMEN. AND THE CRUCIBLE IS ABOUT WHAT IT IS ABOUT, AND --

>> YEAH, SORRY, GO AHEAD.

>> WELL, I HAVE SOME QUIBBLES WITH THAT. BUT -- SO I JUST -- I CALLED MY MOM AND ASKED HER IF SHE COULD SEND ME MY PRIZE WINNING SPEECH AND SHE THREW IT AWAY, SHE SAID, SO I DECIDED TO KIND OF RE-CREATE IT BASED ON WHAT I REMEMBERED. SO FOR A LONG TIME I WAS PERFORMING THIS TEN-MINUTE SPEECH ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION. I WILL SAY THIS, HOWEVER, I JUST WENT TO MEET WITH IRA GLASS FOR THIS AMERICAN LIFE AND HE CALLED MY MOM AND ASKED HER IF SHE COULD LOOK FOR THE SPEECH AGAIN. AND SHE DID AND SHE FOUND IT. FOR ME. AND I EVEN -- FOR TEN YEARS I'VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS WHOLE PROJECT WHICH IS BASED ON THE FACT I HAVE TO RESURRECT A SPEECH SHE CAN'T FIND AND SHE JUST SENT IT TO ME AND I -- IT IS REALLY GOOD. IT IS WAY BETTER THAN THE THING I WROTE.

>> REALLY?

>> YEAH. SHE PROBABLY HELPED ME WRITE IT AND THAT'S WHY IT WAS SO GOOD, BUT --

>> YOU HAD THAT. I READ THAT YOU BASICALLY MET WITH AN ACTOR FOR A FEW WEEKS AS WELL, TRADED PERSONAL STORIES. PART OF THE SHOW, PART OF THE WONDERFUL ELEMENT OF THE SHOW, IT IS HARD BECAUSE YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT, I DON'T WANT TO GIVE THINGS AWAY, YOU START INCORPORATING OTHER PEOPLE'S STORIES OF TRAUMA, PERSONAL TRAUMA, AND HOW IN SOME WAYS HOW THE CONSTITUTION RELATES TO THEM OR PROTECTS THEM, TELL ME WHAT THESE STORIES THAT YOU AND THIS ACTOR TRADED, YOU HAVE TO TELL ME WHAT THEY WERE. BUT HOW THEY HELPED YOU.

>> WELL, SO I HAVE THE PLAY IS THREE PEOPLE. I HAVE A MAN, A MAN IN THE PLAY WHO PLAYS AN AMERICAN LEGION JUDGE AND TRANSFORMS INTO SOMETHING ELSE AND THEN --

>> WONDERFUL.

>> HE'S FANTASTIC. I HAVE TWO YOUNG HIGH SCHOOL DEBATERS. I BRING OUT REAL TEENAGE DEBATERS AT THE END OF THE PLAY TO DEBATE CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES WITH ME. TWO INCREDIBLE YOUNG WOMEN, THURSDAY WILLIAMS, ROSDELY CIPRIAN AND REAL CHAMPION DEBATERS. AND WHAT I DID TO WORK ON THE PLAY WITH THEM IS EVERYONE'S PART IS PERSONALIZED FOR THEM. AND I SPENT A LOT OF TIME INTERVIEWING ALL OF THE OTHER ACTORS AND TAKING DOWN THEIR STORIES AND THEN KIND OF SHAPING THEIR STORIES TO FIT WITH THE MATERIAL OF THE PLAY. SO A LOT OF IT HAS TO DO WITH, LIKE, HOW ARE YOU AFFECTED BY THE THINGS WE'RE TALKING ABOUT IN THE PLAY, WHERE ARE YOU FROM? WITH THE YOUNG WOMEN THEY HAVE TOTAL CONTROL OF THEIR STORY, I ONLY WANT THEM TO SHARE WHAT THEY FEEL COMFORTABLE SHARING, BUT WE BASICALLY DID SOME STORYTELLING WORKSHOPS TOGETHER AND --

>> WHEN YOU WERE DOING THE WORKSHOPS, HOW FAR ALONG IN THE PROCESS WERE YOU AND WHAT DID YOU KNOW THAT THE PLAY WANTED TO BE WHEN YOU WERE DOING THAT.

>> RIGHT. I ALWAYS KNEW I WANTED A REAL TEENAGE DEBATER TO COME OUT. I WANTED SOMEONE WHO, YOU KNOW, WAS MY AGE WHEN I DID THIS CONTEST. I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED, LIKE, WHAT THAT MEANT YET. AND SO FOR A WHILE I JUST WORKED WITH THIS AMAZING DEBATER, ROSDELY, WE WORKED TOGETHER, TRYING DIFFERENT THINGS, I WROTE MATERIAL FOR HER, WE TRIED THAT OUT, WE DID PRACTICE DEBATES UNTIL WE FINALLY LANDED ON THE THING -- THE BIG FINALE OF OUR PLAY, WHICH WE CAME TO TOGETHER.

>> WHAT ABOUT WITH THE OTHER ACTOR?

>> WITH THE OTHER ACTOR, I WAS JUST IN REHEARSAL ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE DEVELOPING THE PLAY AND I SAID, I -- AT THIS POINT IN THE PLAY, I'M REALLY TIRED OF TALKING. I FEEL REALLY OVERWHELMED BY SOME OF THE STORIES I'VE BEEN SHARING, DO YOU -- IS THERE ANYTHING YOU COULD TALK ABOUT HERE? AND I WAS WORKING WITH A DIFFERENT ACTOR AT THE TIME, HE WAS REALLY WONDERFUL. HE HAD ACTUALLY --

>> THAT'S WHAT YOU SAY IN THE PLAY, ACTUALLY?

>> YES. I'M PRETTY TRANSPARENT IN THE PLAY. THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED. I WAS JUST, LIKE, I'M TIRED -- IT IS A POINT IN THE PLAY -- THE PLAY STARTS OUT QUITE FUNNY AND THEN IT GOES DOWN TO, YOU KNOW, MORE DIFFICULT PATH. AND IT IS A POINT IN THE PLAY WHEN I'M TALKING ABOUT CENTURIES OF MALE VIOLENCE AND OF LEGAL VIOLENCE TOWARD FEMALE BODIES AND I WAS JUST, LIKE, I IT IS TOO MUCH AND I FELT LIKE YOU'RE UP HERE WITH ME, WHY DON'T YOU HELP? CAN YOU SHARE THIS BURDEN WITH ME A LITTLE BIT. HE WAS, LIKE, ABSOLUTELY, AND WE WORKED ON FINDING A STORY, YEAH.

>> WHAT -- WHERE DID YOU GET THE COURAGE TO BE SO FLUID ABOUT FINDING YOUR VISION? I THINK SO OFTEN PEOPLE ARE, LIKE, THIS IS THE VISION AND THIS IS THE PLAY. WHERE AS WITH THIS, I MEAN, CLEARLY WHEN WE SEE IT ON STAGE, IT FEELS QUITE FLUID AS WELL. YOU SAID IT IS TRANSPARENT. WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THAT THE PROCESS HAD TO BE THAT WAY AS WELL?

>> I MEAN, I KNEE THE WHOLE -- I FELT LIKE THE WHOLE TIME I WAS FOLLOWING MY INTUITION, I NEVER WAS QUITE SURE WHAT I WANTED TO BE. IN PART BECAUSE I WAS TALKING ABOUT SUCH PERSONAL MATERIAL AND IT WAS SO SCARY TO ME THAT I KIND OF JUST HAD TO GROPE AROUND IN THE DARK WHILE I WAS MAKING IT. BUT ALSO I HAD JUST SPENT FOUR LONG YEARS WORKING ONLY IN TV. I HAD TAKEN A BREAK FROM THEATER, I HAD WRITTEN FOR SHOWS LIKE NURSE JACKIE AND BILLIONS --

>> WROTE THAT GREAT EPISODE BY -- A WONDERFUL EPISODE.

>> IN TV, YOU CAN'T WORK THIS WAY. YOU HAVE TO HAVE AN OUTLINE, KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING, EVERYTHING IS VERY, LIKE, RULE ORIENTED. THERE ARE DEFINITE RULES TO STORYTELLING STRUCTURE WHICH I GUESS WE DID BREAK A LITTLE BIT. I WAS, LIKE, I WANT TO MAKE SOMETHING THAT CAN ONLY HAPPEN IN THE THEATER. I WANT TO -- I WANT IT TO BE LIVE AND LOOSE AND MESSY AND IMPROVISATIONAL. I DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHERE I'M GOING. I DON'T WANT TO HAVE TO MAKE THESE DECISIONS AHEAD OF TIME. SO IN A WAY I WAS JUST -- I WAS READY TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

>> SO HOW DID YOU KNOW WHEN YOU WERE DONE?

>> I'M STILL -- I DON'T KNOW IF I'M DONE.

>> LIKE, YOU HAVE BEEN DOING THIS, YOU'VE BEEN REHEARSING IT, WORKSHOPING IT.

>> I DO CHANGE -- NOT MUCH. NOW THE STRUCTURE IS PRETTY SET. IT HAS BEEN FOR ABOUT A YEAR. BUT PEOPLE STILL COME TO THE -- THE FANTASTIC THING IS PEOPLE COME TO THE SHOW NOW AND GIVE ME NEW PIECES OF INFORMATION. SO I'M, LIKE, GLORIA STEINEM CAME TO THE SHOW, WE HAD A LONG CONVERSATION AFTER AND I WAS, LIKE, IF I WERE TO SIT DOWN WITH HER, I THINK SHE WOULD GIVE ME A LOT OF NOTES. BUT SHE TOLD ME THIS THING I DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT, WHICH I'M EMBARRASSED, I'VE BEEN WORKING THIS A LONG TIME, ABOUT THE CONFEDERACY, HE MET WITH THEM AS A MODEL FOR THE CONSTITUTION, THEY HAD SIX NATIONS, LIKE THEY HAD A VERY SOPHISTICATED GOVERNMENT AND HE BROUGHT A DRAFT OR AN IDEA OF WHAT OUR CONSTITUTION WAS GOING TO BE TO THESE LEADERS. THE FIRST THEY SAID WAS WHERE ARE YOUR WOMEN? WHICH I DIDN'T KNOW. I'VE BEEN LOOKING --

>> TALKING ABOUT THE EGALITARIAN NATURE.

>> THAT HAS TO DO WITH THE INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES WHERE I GREW UP. BUT I'M TRYING -- I FEEL LIKE MAYBE NEXT WEEK I'LL FINALLY BE ABLE TO GET THAT PIECE OF INFORMATION INTO THE DEBATE.

>> REALLY?

>> YEAH. I'M ALWAYS ADDING LITTLE PIECES OF INFORMATION.

>> WHEN IT CAME TO THE ENTIRE STRUCTURE, WAS THERE A MOMENT WHERE, BECAUSE YOU HAD BEEN DIGGING AROUND IN THE DARK FOR SO LONG, WERE YOU KNEW THAT YOU HAD IT OR IT TOOK SOMEBODY ELSE SAYING, HEIDI, WE GOT IT HERE?

>> I THINK I REALIZED IN FRONT OF THE AUDIENCE, ACTUALLY. THE AUDIENCE -- BEFORE I DID IT FOR A LIVE AUDIENCE, I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT IT WAS. AND THEN A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO I DID IT FOR A PRESENTATION OF IT, AND THAT'S WHEN I WAS ABLE TO HEAR WHAT I STILL NEEDED TO DO, WHAT WAS MISSING. I DON'T THINK I REALLY FULLY FELT LIKE IT WAS -- THE STRUCTURE IS NOT COMPLETE. EVEN IF I ADD LITTLE THINGS. I THINK I REALIZED THAT IN SEPTEMBER.

>> BUT IT IS STILL SUCH A DIFFERENT BEAST, I WOULD IMAGINE, THAN STAGING, YOU KNOW, A FOUR PERSON DRAMA THAT HAS TWO ACTS OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. RIGHT. YOU CAN -- WHICH YOU'VE WRITTEN AND I THINK YOU CAN SEE ON THE PAGE THE WAY THE ART WORKS AND HOW TO SHAPE IT AND YOU FOLLOW RULES A LITTLE BIT TO CREATE THAT. WITH THIS, YOU'RE BREAKING EVERY RULE POSSIBLE WHILE STILL TRYING TO MAINTAIN AN EMOTIONAL ARK.

>> YES.

>> TO AUDIENCE QUESTIONS, SORRY.

>> YEAH, NO, NO.

>> LET'S HEAR A QUESTION. RIGHT HERE.

>> HI, HOW ARE YOU?

>> I'M WELL, THANK YOU.

>> ALL RIGHT. SO HOW HAS YOUR PREVIOUS KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONSTITUTION INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING IN TV, NURSE JACKIE, BILLIONS.

>> THAT'S REALLY INTERESTING. THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION. SO I WILL SAY THIS, DON'T KNOW ABOUT THE DOCUMENT ITSELF, BUT THE CONTEST INVOLVED EXTEMPORANEOUS SPEAKING. YOU HAD TO THINK QUICKLY, WHAT IS THE STORY HERE, WHAT IS GOING TO BE MY METAPHOR, HOW AM I GOING TO MAKE SOMETHING OUT OF THIS? I FEEL LIKE THAT DEFINITELY HAD AN EFFECT ON -- OR HELPED ME LEARN TO BECOME A WRITER.

>> GOOD IN A WRITER'S ROOM.

>> I'M GOOD IN A WRITER'S ROOM. I CAN LOOK AT SOMETHING QUICKLY AND SAY THIS IS THE STORY I SEE, YEAH.

>> NEXT QUESTION, RIGHT HERE.

>> HI. SO YOU MENTIONED GAINING YOUR INTERESTS IN THE CONSTITUTION WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER. AND ALSO NOW ON YOUR SHOW, BRINGING IN OTHER MEMBERS OF THE YOUNG ADULTS FROM THE DEBATE TEAM.

>> YES.

>> I WANTED TO KNOW, WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST OR WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE TO OTHER YOUNG ADULTS THAT MAY NOT KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION.

>> THAT'S -- I LOVE THAT QUESTION. THIS IS FUNNY, SO THERE IS THIS BOOK THAT I GREW UP STUDYING CALLED THE RUGGED -- YOUR RUGGED CONSTITUTION. AND IN SOME WAYS IT IS KIND OF A CONSTITUTION FOR DUMMIES THAT I FIND VERY HELPFUL WHEN I WAS 15 YEARS OLD, HAS LITTLE PICTURES, BREAKS DOWN EVERY AMENDMENT AND ARTICLE AND EXPLAINS HOW IT WORKS. I WOULD SUGGEST THAT TO ANYBODY. I THINK IT IS A GREAT, FUN PRIMER ON THE CONSTITUTION. THERE IS ALSO A GREAT HIGH SCHOOL TEXTBOOK CALLED FAULT LINES IN THE CONSTITUTION, WHICH I READ AS AN ADULT AND HAD ALL OF THE ADULTS IN OUR REHEARSAL ROOM READ AND I LEARNED SO MUCH FROM THAT BOOK AS WELL. I DO WISH IT WOULD BE TAUGHT MORE IN SCHOOLS, BUT, YEAH.

>> IT IS KIND OF TAUGHT AS THIS THING THAT IS BORING BUT YOU GOT TO -- WE GOT TO TELL YOU ABOUT IT.

>> IT IS SO FASCINATING. FILLED WITH SO MUCH HUMAN DRAMA, BUT, YEAH.

>> THAT'S AMAZING THAT GLORIA STEINEM STORY, I NEVER HEARD THAT. THAT'S FASCINATING. DO YOU KNOW WHAT THEY --

>> PROBABLY GOT SOME THINGS WRONG.

>> DO YOU KNOW WHAT BEN FRANKLIN SAID WHEN THEY SAID WHERE ARE THE WOMEN? TIME FOR ONE MORE.

>> HI. SO I REMEMBER YOU MENTIONING ABOUT POSITIVE AMENDMENTS AND POSITIVE CHANGES TO OTHER CONSTITUTIONS. SO I'M WONDERING WHAT ARE THE IMMEDIATE POSITIVE CHANGES YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE IN OUR CONSTITUTION?

>> SO, YEAH, IT IS NOT JUST POSITIVE CHANGES. SO IT IS WHAT IS CALLED POSITIVE RIGHTS, WHICH I JUST LEARNED ABOUT. POSITIVE RIGHTS MEANING THEY'RE, LIKE, ACTIVE RIGHTS, SO, FOR EXAMPLE, I MEAN, I BELIEVE WE SHOULD HAVE AN AMENDMENT THAT GUARANTEES HEALTH CARE TO PEOPLE. I REALLY WOULD LOVE AN AMENDMENT THAT PROTECTED THE ENVIRONMENT ACTIVELY. THOSE THINGS WOULD BE CONSIDERED POSITIVE RIGHTS. I FEEL LIKE THE AMENDMENT AND HEALTH CARE WOULD BE MY FIRST TWO CHOICES. YEAH.

>> A HUGE PART OF THE COUNTRY THAT DISAGREES WITH --

>> I KNOW. MY FAMILY DISAGREES WITH ME. IF WE DON'T TAKE CARE OF THE ENVIRONMENT, I DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENS SO --

>> WE DON'T HAVE A PLAN, WE DON'T HAVE A WORLD, YEAH. IT IS A VERY SIMPLE EQUATION THAT WE'RE ACTUALLY SORT OF SEEING WORK ITSELF OUT NOW WITHOUT ANY HELP ON OUR PART, ESPECIALLY A LOT OF HELP ON OUR PART. HEIDI, I LOVE THE SHOW SO MUCH. IT IS GENIUS. YOU'RE AMAZING, CONGRATULATIONS, IT IS UP UNTIL THE 30th OF DECEMBER, RIGHT, AT THE GREENWICH PLAYHOUSE THEATER. JUST AROUND THE CORNER HERE AT THE -- ON BARROW STREET. EVERYBODY GIVE A HUGE ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR HEIDI SCHRECK AND GO SEE "WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME.” IT IS INCREDIBLE.

>> THANK YOU.

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