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Ithaca theaters co-produce play ‘What the Constitution Means to Me’

Hangar Theater

The Kitchen Theatre and Hangar Theatre in Ithaca are co-performing and producing the play “What the Constitution Means to Me”, which runs through June 24.

The autobiographical play by Heidi Schreck originally premiered on Broadway and was nominated for best play at the 2019 Tony Awards. “What the Constitution Means to Me” is about Schreck recounting her perspective about the Constitution from childhood, when she debated issues about it to win money for college, to her present self in her mid 40s.

Erica Steinhagen, who previously played the Baker’s Wife in the Hangar Theatre’s “Into the Woods” and Natalie in the Kitchen Theatre’s “The Ding Dongs”, plays the lead. She described the play as juicy, incredibly relevant, and moving as the character explores the Constitution.

“Try to figure out what it was that was so important to her about the Constitution and about talking about it in that way you know, in these speech contests, and also just exploring sort of what that means to her now as an adult woman living in the United States,” Schreck said. “There’s a lot of healing of her inner child I think that she’s doing in this play and at the same time I feel like it's really a love letter to young people.”

The play discusses Supreme Court cases, what it means to be a citizen, and women’s representation, or lack of, in the Constitution.

Karl Gregory, who is the interim artistic director for Kitchen Theatre, said the play has been on their shortlist for a while and found that the Hangar Theatre was interested in putting it on as well.

“It's a really great, thought-provoking, modern piece of theater that asks you to look at the Constitution differently than you’ve thought about it previously,” Gregory said.

Gregory stated that “What the Constitution Means to Me” was the first show that the Kitchen Theatre and Hangar Theatre have co-produced. The decision was made to consolidate resources and save money for both theaters, following the pandemic.

Both Steinhagen and Gregory said the pandemic has changed the world of theater because there is a lack of people seeing performances and some are still hesitant to return.

“Live theater is really struggling right now, post pandemic, like very much so,” Gregory said. “But we really just need people to come see shows. So we want to make it as welcoming as possible for everyone to come back in and enjoy live theater with us.”

“What the Constitution Means to Me'' runs at the Kitchen Theatre until June 11 to finish their season. Then the show will play at the Hangar Theater for two weeks until June 24 to begin their season.