Through September 24
WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME D’Youville University/Kavinoky Theatre
By Augustine Warner
From that hot summer in 1787 when a delegation of America’s “great and good” met in secret and drafted the Constitution, it’s been the subject of debate.
This summer, its provisions are the subject of greater debate, from the rules for electing a president to the rules for the criminal justice system.
Most people have some views on the Constitution, even if they have never read it or only know what someone told them.
There’s a lot of that.
You can get a different view in the Kavinoky Theatre: What provisions of the Constitution or interpretations of the wording do to women.
It’s Heidi Schreck’s “What the Constitution Means to Me.”
The story base is an American Legion competition with that title and the fictional Heidi (Lindsay Brandon Hunter) working her way up in the levels of competition.
The event is run by Danny (Kodi James) from the American Legion.
Later on, we meet Amara (Amara Gómez) who discusses the issues with Heidi.
As Heidi points out, the document was written by a bunch of White guys, many of whom were slaveowners and were well-off, in a time when there was often a property requirement to vote.
Things didn’t change for decades, until the 14th Amendment which freed slaves and made them citizens and introduced what’s now called “birthright citizenship,” the rule that if someone is born here, mostly they are automatically citizens.
Of course, that’s (again) men.
That Amendment also barred anyone involved in an insurrection from holding public office, clearly written to cover Confederates in the Civil War.
Another issue surfacing in today’s politics.
Initially, Heidi stands behind the podium and then as the discussion stretches out, from the words of the Constitution itself to the 14th, she gallops around the stage.
It’s a wonderful re-creation of an old American Legion hall, with that wall of old photographs of past commanders, often black and white.
First Heidi and then Amara show how, time after time, women wind up losing on the big issues, from suffrage to abortion.
Now, you might not agree with their points of view but you might think about the question they raise late in the show: Do you want to get rid of the Constitution and try again or stick with the current one and make changes?
In a sense, this is what Shakespeare did in his day: Raise the issues of the day on the stage and let the public think about the issues.
It’s an interesting play and an interesting issue in these times and worth seeing “What the Constitution Means to Me” and thinking about it all.
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