New York Magazine

What What the Constitution Means to Me Means to Them

Tony Kushner has a favorite new play. Heidi Schreck wrote it. They have a lot to talk about.
Heidi Schreck and Tony Kushner.

In late 2018, when Heidi Schreck’s play What the Constitution Means to Me was produced at New York Theatre Workshop, New York’s drama critic, Sara Holdren, called it the best thing she’d reviewed all year. It’s an unusual drama—mostly a monologue in which Schreck recounts her life as a teenage debater in American Legion competitions and intertwines those experiences with those of her adult self. Tony Kushner, the world-spinning playwright best known for Angels in America, appears to have agreed with our critic, because he’s seen it three times. In advance of Constitution’s transfer to Broadway, Kushner and Schreck spoke with Holdren about the play and its reverberations large and small.

Sara Holdren: We might as well start big. I’m going to borrow from Krista Tippett: What gives you hope right now, and what frightens you? It could be in a general sense, Lord knows, but let’s make it specifically about theater. What about the world of theater gives you hope right now, and what concerns you?

Tony Kushner: Well, I have it easy.

Heidi Schreck: You go first.

T.K.: Your show. You know, I went back to see it three times and sent everybody I know to see it. Honestly, it’s one of the most exciting things I’ve ever seen, which explains my going back a second time. But I think the third time I went back, I realized that I was getting something out of it beyond the absolutely magnificent writing and the extraordinary production.

It’s such a terrible time right now—it’s frightening in ways that are really without parallel for anyone who’s conscious and, well, not a Republican. And you know, I’ve always been a little skeptical of the notion that there’s something sort of shamanistic or medicinal or restorative about theater in a

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