Rick @ 'What the Constitution Means to Me' - Shaking. My. Head.
What’s it about?
Somewhat of an autobiography told on stage. Heidi shares her story, saving money for college at 15 by making speeches about the Constitution around the country, using her experience as a woman to explain the document in relation to women’s rights.
I thought I was in for a typical play, an interpretation of the Constitution told from a feminist perspective. But what I ended up sitting through were reenactments, storytelling, history lessons (maybe even a scandal?) and a live debate!
The opening scene started with Heidi giving us her backstory. I thought this wasn’t an actual retelling of someone’s REAL life. I was really confused because she would refer to herself often without making it clear if the other things she was sharing actually happened. Once I figured this out however, I just sat and listened to her story.
In order to make it through college, Heidi’s mother made her participate in speech competitions around the country, with the main theme being the Constitution (I’m going to abbreviate this as Const. only because I hate typing this word out lol). Heidi had to know the Const. like the back of her hand. For a 15 year old, that seems pretty impressive to me. I can only imagine how much this helped shape her public speaking skills (yes, that’s what I thought about) and how she actually won these competitions! I know I definitely could have never done that at 15. I mean, I did hate history, but that’s another story.
The History Lessons:
She gave a bunch of history lessons, which I actually really appreciated (I feel like I’m getting old). There was a ton of information that I’ve forgotten over the years (okay now I really sound old — I’m only 23 I swear) and even some new information that I learned regarding the Const. For example, I actually forgot the ninth amendment. Although, maybe that’s just like all of America. But there was a time where I knew the first ten amendments by heart.
Nostalgia feels 😷
Heidi then played recordings of old white men — you know the ones in power? — being super hypocritical and even arguing over trivial things like the meaning of the word “shall” (these were real recordings!). It made me think about who rises to power and who we keep in power. Funny to realize that not much changes even in the modern age #shade.
Okay, here is where it got interesting. After all the history lessons and reenactments, Heidi got real with us. Her current self got into the reasons why the play itself was relevant to our time. Time to learn about human rights.
⚠️Spoiler alert ⚠️
She told us the story of her mother and why she began doing speeches in the first place. There was a history of sexual trauma and abuse that occurred in her family. A history that was seen as “okay” at the time. A history that happened so close to home, but sadly didn’t matter enough to local law enforcement to stop. Heidi herself knew of a woman who was repeatedly sexually assaulted, and got law enforcement involved in the case, and then nothing. Nothing happened. She wasn’t protected. It wasn’t even considered a serious matter.
Shaking. My. Head.
Heidi’s speeches were her way of always reminding herself of her rights as a woman. Her mother wanted this for her, because this way she would be able to protect herself against sexual violence.
⚠️Spoiler Over ⚠️
There’s a lot more to this story that really just sucks to hear about. We all know the world isn’t perfect, but Heidi’s family, personal history of trauma and the stories of other women really reminded me that it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you do, because EVERYONE has demons. EVERYONE goes through shit.
As a male minority, I know firsthand the struggles that people like me face. However, I know that women, especially female minorities, go through much more. It sucks to know that sexual assault is usually inflicted by people close to the victim. It’s often not a stranger, which is f***ing scary. It also doesn’t help to have learned that the Const. doesn’t really concern itself with protecting women or minorities. It only serves to protect “the persons” aka straight, white and male.
Isn’t that stupid?
However, change is happening, albeit slowly. Hopefully one day “human rights” will be for ALL people. While these rights do get violated, especially under our current leadership, it’s really up to us, the people, to change the system. We can do so politically, but also in the way we view, interact and raise future generations.
I didn’t mean to make this so political, but this was the premise of this show — to allow us to understand the law we follow and understand the traumas it can cause.
It came to the point where Heidi presented an interesting idea.
Abolish the Constitution.
In her effort to make this as engaging as possible, Heidi brought on stage a young woman for a live debate! This part was really cool. They debated for a few minutes over retaining or abolishing the Const. We also got cool pocket Constitutions for free!!
Both sides brought up interesting points and it really made me think of what I wanted. Personally, I really liked both arguments and I’m so glad I wasn’t chosen to pick the winner. I couldn’t decide whose argument I agreed with. Instead, my thoughts were to get new people in power who could rectify the current Const. Make it better.
While that hopefully happens, I really think this show has a lot to offer. While I found the jokes corny, I think a lot of us don’t understand how much power we hold as the people of this country. And ultimately that’s Heidi’s point — teaching you how to protect yourself.
Tell us about your experience.
In the comments below.