“What the Constitution Means to Me”: Riveting, Beautiful, Personal

By: Arianna Garcia, Riley’s Way Council Member, The Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem

“It was unexpected, it was so moving. It captured you the whole time. I enjoyed that she brought up uncomfortable topics that are not commonly discussed because the discussion of these topics is how change happens.”
– Julia Westra, Riley’s Way Council Member, The Nightingale-Bamford School

On Wednesday, July 24th, a few Riley’s Way Council members and I watched “What The Constitution Means To Me,” a captivating Broadway show written and performed by Heidi Schreck. From the moment Heidi started speaking to the audience, she engaged me with her accomplishment of being able to pay off all of her college tuition; she did this with her advocacy for the Constitution in debates all over the United States during her youth. She spoke in such a captivating voice and performed with great poise. There were no dull moments in the show.

What I liked the most about the show was how the audience was able to interact with Heidi’s points, especially during the debate she did with a brilliant young woman named Rosdely Ciprian. In this debate, she argued for the abolishment of the Constitution, while her opponent argued for the United States to keep the Constitution. This was interesting to me because up until that moment, I felt the premise of the play was based on her undeniable support for the Constitution. But then I quickly realized, Schreck truly knows the ins and outs of the Constitution; she can argue for both sides seamlessly.

As I sat next to other Council members during the show, I couldn’t help but realize how the show connects to Riley’s Way’s mission. I was wholeheartedly inspired when I was reminded of my fellow Council members and I using kindness and empathy to make the world a better place. By doing this, we are paving the way for future generations to lead the world with kindness and empathy. By using the mission of Riley’s Way in our daily lives, we are impacting the lives of others by bringing about change. This connects to the impact Schreck’s show has on people; she stresses the importance of thinking more critically about what the Constitution means to every one of us. This was more than clear to me because as I left the show, I saw conversations being sparked all around me about the Constitution and its impact on our daily lives.

I especially loved how she was able to connect the stories of the lives of the women in her family to the Constitution. She was very raw in the details of the stories of the women in her family. Particularly, she connected their stories to the long-running oppression of women throughout history. I felt immense empathy for her and the women in her family. The way she told these stories was very genuine and personal; it must have taken great courage for her to share their unfiltered stories and hers. She spoke up specifically about violence against women, and how the Constitution may have tried, but ultimately fails to protect women. She showed how it has especially failed to protect the women in her family over generations, because of the violence they had to endure. It was truly a performance unlike any other.