Broadway’s “What the Constitution Means to Me” | Talks at Google
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Broadway’s “What the Constitution Means to Me” | Talks at Google

October 11, 2019


[APPLAUSE] SPEAKER: We are thrilled
to have you here today. I am thrilled to
have you here today. HEIDI SCHRECK: Thank you. SPEAKER: Heidi, your story
of a 15-year-old girl in love with the Constitution and
the journey that we go on as we understand how the
Constitution does and does not define the lives that we lead
is really deeply affecting. The experience from the audience
and the performance I saw was one where the whole
audience– you could really feel we felt as one
listening to you, going on this journey with you. And I think that that’s in
large part because of the warmth and candor that you
bring to the production. And I wanted to start
kind of at the beginning. So I understand
that you wrote this for a theater company, the
Clubbed Thumb theater company. HEIDI SCHRECK: Yes, yep. SPEAKER: And this
was a few years ago. And I was wondering
if you could just tell us a little bit about
the journey the piece has taken from when you first
started out with them to today. HEIDI SCHRECK: Sure. I actually started the
play about 10 years ago. Well, 20 years ago, I
actually had the idea to write a play about
the Constitution where I would trace personal– I would take a personal
story and connect it to every single amendment
in the Constitution. But that was way too
ambitious, and I quit. And then 10 years
later, I thought, I should go back to that idea. Doing this contest as a teenager
was such a formative part of my growing up. It was such an interesting time. I wanted to return to that. And I thought, what if
I take one amendment and try to do that,
try to find a way this one amendment has shaped
my life, affected my life. And then, of course,
that led me to the way it’s shaped the lives of– the women in my family
is what I focused on. So, yeah. I really started with a
very kind of innocent idea just to revisit
this time and try to find personal stories that
connected to the Constitution. And then it kind of led
me into this deep dive into the legal history of
women in this country, which I actually wasn’t expecting. SPEAKER: Interesting. Have you found over time
that the audience has changed in their
reaction to it or what you feel from the audience? HEIDI SCHRECK: I mean,
I can ask my team too. But I feel like it
changes every night. I mean, the play has largely– I first performed my section,
which is like almost an hour long monologue while
Obama was president. And it was received very
well at that time too. But I think now, although
it remains unchanged, depending on what’s going on in
the world in the news that day, suddenly parts of it
suddenly seem incredibly vital and urgent to the moment. So people respond differently
every single night depending on what’s
going on in the world. SPEAKER: So I just want to take
a quick moment to introduce everybody in our cast. So here we have
Heidi Schreck, who is the playwright,
star of the show. We have Thursday Williams,
Rosdely Ciprian and Mike Iveson as well. [APPLAUSE] So my next question is
for Rosdely and Thursday. So in the play, you
alternate performances. And you are, in real life,
very experienced debaters, and you’re also onstage
debating with Heidi. In kind of drawing from
your experience being in this play as well as
accomplished debaters in your own right, what do you
think debating can teach us– teach people? ROSDELY CIPRIAN:
Can I [INAUDIBLE]?? Well, I think that debate
can teach you that there’s two sides to every story. And each side has its
flaws and its imbalances. But then there’s also something
that’s very similar about it. So it teaches you how to
go against your, like, natural beliefs but
still put it in a way where you still
actually want to do it. So it’s, like, it changes
your perspective for a minute. That’s what I
learned from debate. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: That is
a very interesting question. [LAUGHS] Wait, can you ask
the question again? [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER: Sure. I’m just wondering if,
based on your experiences during the play where you’re
debating Heidi as well as your experiences
debating through debate clubs and the other
opportunities you’ve had, what do you think debating
can bring to people who aren’t in a debate? THURSDAY WILLIAMS: I’m
just going to piggyback off of what Rosdely said. I feel like during
a debate, it’s very essential that a person
hears both sides of an issue. And I think this is a
very difficult question. [LAUGHTER] HEIDI SCHRECK: Thursday is– her, like, inner compass
for truth is very strong. So– ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Yeah. HEIDI SCHRECK: –we
switch sides every night in this debate about
the Constitution. And she will not say a thing
unless she believes it. I mean, that is– I agree with both of you. Like, that’s one of the
most challenging things about a debate is really to
try to get into the mindset and perspective of a point you
might totally disagree with and to find what
parts of that argument might ring true to you. And you are a very– you have to go through a
deep process to do that. And then you come out with
some amazing truth that usually flummoxes me [LAUGHS]. SPEAKER: So I
learned that you’ve had a number of
luminaries come and see the show over the
course of its run. And they’ve included some
Supreme Court justices. HEIDI SCHRECK: Yes. SPEAKER: And this question
is for anybody on the panel is what has the experience
been like performing or meeting these people, such as Ruth
Bader Ginsburg, et cetera. And do you have any particular
stories or experiences you would highlight? HEIDI SCHRECK: The RBG
night was a very big night. It was a roller coaster of a
night for all of us, I think. Some of us knew she was
out there while performing because some people
made a mistake and accidentally told us. And– MIKE IVESON: I told people. Only Heidi knew. [LAUGHTER] None of us knew. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Yeah,
Heidi was the only one. MIKE IVESON: Heidi knew. HEIDI SCHRECK: Yeah. But you figured it out
pretty quickly, right? MIKE IVESON: I
figured out because I say in my opening
monologue, I say, this is a good chance to
give these kids a chance to see what it’s like when
they’re arguing in front of the Supreme Court one day. And ordinarily, the
audience is like, oh, OK. And on this day,
they’re like, whoo! Oh my god! [LAUGHTER] What? What? What? I was like what? And then I kind of
looked at Heidi. And she was, like, mm-hmm. [LAUGHTER] I was, like– and then I
still had myself tricked. I was still a little bit
like that could Elena Kagan. [LAUGHTER] Probably not RBG. HEIDI SCHRECK: Which
would still be amazing. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Yeah. HEIDI SCHRECK: Let’s be clear. That would be amazing. MIKE IVESON: Probably not Alito. Probably not Justice Thomas. Maybe it’s Kagan. But it was just foolish. That’s the person. That’s the rock star
of the Supreme Court. So, of course, the whole
audience flipped out. It was amazing. HEIDI SCHRECK: But then Thursday
was debating that night. And Thursday– I mean,
we’re all RBG devotees. But– ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Yeah. HEIDI SCHRECK: –she
is the biggest of all. She argues with an RBG pencil. Is it OK if I disclose– THURSDAY WILLIAMS: Yeah. HEIDI SCHRECK: –this? She has more legal training
then all of us, let me be clear. So go ahead. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: So RBG came. But Sonia Sotomayor
came as well. MIKE IVESON: Had come earlier. She’d come, like, about
a week or two earlier. THURSDAY WILLIAMS:
And she tricked us. She told us that RBG will
not be coming anytime soon. But apparently, they’d been
having secret conversations– [LAUGHTER] –which is fine. MIKE IVESON: And we’re
all like, oh, OK. Sotomayor says she’s
not coming till August. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: But my
experience when I, you know, I met Sonia Sotomayor. I did her internship
program over the summer. And I met her for five
seconds by the elevator. And I told her the
story of my name. And as soon as I
finished the story, the Secret Service just
grabbed her away from me. And I yelled out, I
will see you soon. [LAUGHTER] I don’t know how or when
I was going to see her. But I made it happen
because now I’ve had, like, more than 20
minutes with her telling me she loves me and, like, I have
VIP pass to the Supreme Court. MIKE IVESON: Sorry, Mike. HEIDI SCHRECK: She also– she
made it very clear that she came to see Thursday. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Yeah. HEIDI SCHRECK: It
was very exciting. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: Yeah. And RBG, I collapsed
to the floor. [LAUGHTER] ROSDELY CIPRIAN: That’s my– MIKE IVESON: Oh, wait a minute. Let’s not– let’s not jump ahead
because there’s a lot of stuff happened before– THURSDAY WILLIAMS: Hey, Mike. MIKE IVESON: The young
women are backstage. Heidi and I are on
stage the whole time. The young women are backstage
the whole time, right? So keeping it for me
is not that big a deal. I just was, like, I
wander around in a haze all the time anyway. I figured it out on stage. Heidi figured it out right
before we went onstage. But the real trick was keeping
it from these two women as they’re waiting backstage
for what was it like? An hour and a half? ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Yeah. MIKE IVESON:
Something like that? THURSDAY WILLIAMS:
They stole my phone. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: They didn’t– MIKE IVESON: Stage
management stole her phone. And so then also
they could see– tell me if I get
this right, Terri, but, like, so they could see
the Secret Service standing in the back of the house. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: I
saw the Secret Service. Everyone was like, no,
somebody went to the restroom and is standing at the
back of the theater. I’m like, OK. [LAUGHTER] ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Because
I wasn’t on that that day. And I’m just, like,
wait, what’s going on? Everybody’s running
around the building. This isn’t what usually happens. And then my guardian,
Kate, she was just, like, I don’t want you to scream
because this is a workplace. We’re not going to scream. So she just ran me
into my dressing room. She was, like, somebody
very important is here. And I was just, like, who is it? Who is it? Is it Liza Koshy? Is it somebody that I adore? And then she was just like, no. It’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And I’m just, like,
do not scream. This is where you work. Do not scream. Do not scream. So I was, like, I
squeezed her hand. I think I collapsed on my
little couch futon thing. And then I was just like, whoo. Does Thursday know yet? They were just,
like, I don’t know. Like, they’re telling her now. And I’m just like, oh, my god. THURSDAY WILLIAMS:
They did not tell me. [LAUGHTER] MIKE IVESON: But also, Thursday
waits backstage right before– THURSDAY WILLIAMS:
Unicorn lounge. MIKE IVESON: No, no, no. No. I’m talking about
when you’re on stage. So right before
she comes onstage, we actually play a Ruth
Bader Ginsburg snippet– an audio snippet of Ruth Bader
Ginsburg right before she comes onstage. So apparently,
Thursday was backstage. They heard the snippet. The audience flipped out. They all stood on their feet. They all turned around
and looked at RBG. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Yeah. MIKE IVESON: But Thursday
couldn’t see, right? But you could hear it. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: Because
Terri kept me standing forward. You need to stay in place. What? I pace back and forth
before every show. Why do I need to stay in place? They did very well. ROSDELY CIPRIAN:
Terri is our ASM. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: It was good. It was so good. They kept it from me. HEIDI SCHRECK: I
think they told– didn’t they tell you
that the audience was so vocal and
cheering because they drink a lot in the
summers or something? [LAUGHTER] ROSDELY CIPRIAN: What? HEIDI SCHRECK: There
was some, like, excuse about why the audience was so– THURSDAY WILLIAMS: Terri
told me that there’s, like, many ends to the play. And, like, she said
that the people thought that that’s, like,
the end of the play when it’s, like, OK. RBG quote. Show’s done. MIKE IVESON: But
she would have never done that any other night. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Yeah. MIKE IVESON: So and
we’re, like, 100 chosen. That’s OK. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Oh, and not
to be kind of stalkerish, but we have a life-size photo
of her and our Unicorn lounge. MIKE IVESON: That’s true. Backstage, we have a
cardboard cutout of RBG. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: And I think
she has, like, three heads. No worry. They’re detachable. MIKE IVESON: So then we
all sort of collapsed. [LAUGHTER] When she was backstage,
we all sort of collapsed. Thursday did not stop
crying for a second. And I was just, like, I know. I can’t believe we’re– I know. I was just like– THURSDAY WILLIAMS: Sonia– Sonia– one thing that I
really– just my last story. [LAUGHTER] Please. I love– So RBG
is from Brooklyn. Sonia Sotomayor
is from the Bronx. And I’m going to be
from Queens, right? So it’s, like, we got
three boroughs that’s going in the Supreme Court. [LAUGHTER] But because this is– I love RBG. I, like, I’m trying
to keep it together. I love RBG. But I love Sotomayor more. Like, I love them both equally. But what made me, like, really– my dream school was
Cornell for undergrad. And I applied to many schools. I didn’t get into Cornell. Their loss. I was following RBG’s
path because, you know, she went to Cornell. But Sonia Sotomayor
looked at me. And she goes, I’m
very proud of you for getting into
Trinity College. My niece applied. She didn’t get in. And she cried. So you’re doing something great. And I was, like, bye, Cornell. [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER: Yeah. The Ginsburg with three
heads threw me a little. But Mike, I had a
question for you because– MIKE IVESON: Mm-hmm SPEAKER: –you’re the
only man in the show. MIKE IVESON: Mm-hmm. SPEAKER: And you’re on
the stage the whole time. MIKE IVESON: Mm-hmm. SPEAKER: And you have more
than one role, so to speak. MIKE IVESON: Mm-hmm. SPEAKER: And you are sitting
there not just listening, but you’re an active listener. It’s very apparent to me
sitting in the audience that you weren’t sitting
and just sitting, but that you were
really involved in what Heidi was saying– MIKE IVESON: Yeah. SPEAKER: –and in hearing her
and having a conversation back. it’s a little bit
like a Greek chorus– MIKE IVESON: Yes. SPEAKER: –of one. MIKE IVESON: I like that. Yeah, yeah, yeah. SPEAKER: I wondered how you have
seen the production of the show change, how your
experience has changed, and as a follow-on, what
the experience of working on your piece was
like with Heidi? MIKE IVESON: You mean
my little monologue that I say toward
the end of the show? Well, to answer
your first question, I really like what I
get to do in the show because it is quite
open what I’m doing. There’s a lot of ways that
because I’m perfectly visible. I’m not hidden. And what I’m actively
doing is listening. In a way, I’m sort of the
person that the audience sort of identifies with in a
certain– and, of course, they identify with Heidi. But then sometimes
they’re, like– I would expect–
that they’re, like, am I that weirdo on the
side, this sort of thing. You know what I mean? But then also, I get to
be sort of an antagonist. I get to be sort
of the person that is sort of vaguely a counter
argument or point of view from what Heidi is saying. But then Heidi just uses me as
a prop for, like, basically all of her– so I’m
basically every man in every one of her stories. Sometimes I’m her dad. Sometimes I’m her
teacher, Mr. Berger. Which, just to be clear
if you haven’t seen, I don’t say anything
other than that. It’s not, like, I put on a hat. I’m, like, I’m Mr. Berger now. You know what I mean? So she talks a lot about men. I think it’s really
smart on Heidi’s part that she talks a lot
about women and about men. But then it complicates
your processing to see a guy sitting
there for some reason. It just makes it
slightly complicated. And also, of course,
what I’m doing is I am actively listening. So, like, that’s,
like sort of telling the audience that’s
what you might want to be doing right now too. Like, really pay attention
because, actually, you don’t want to miss– What Heidi is doing
is very deceptive. It seems like, oh, I
know what the genre is. It’s, like, one-woman show
talking about her experiences. But I think it’s a
lot more than that. And, like, if the
audience follows me and really tuning in, they’ll
catch all the other stuff that’s going on. Also, I think that
the show is a play. Like, it’s not a one-woman show. Do you know what I mean? And we get the experience
quite frequently that people see it once and the
content is very overwhelming. There’s a lot of
very intense stuff that mostly Heidi talks about. And then the second time– I hear this from
people all the time– you spend a lot of time trying
to negotiate the relationship between me and Heidi on stage. You know what the
content is going to be. And then you realize
how complicated it is, what’s going on between
me and Heidi the whole time. The second question
is I have a monologue at the end of the show where I
talk about my own experiences, not dissimilar to the
way that Heidi does. And, yeah, I just– I had to– yeah. Heidi asked me a
bunch of questions. And the stuff that was
worth talking about was the stuff that was the
hardest stuff to talk about. I mean, I don’t know
that that’s always true. I don’t know that
that’s a truism for, like, every play or every
piece of art or anything. But for this show, it really– it was a bunch of stuff that
I had never told anybody. And you don’t even
realize you haven’t told– there’s that kind of stuff. And so I just told a bunch
of way too many stories. And we, like, whittled
it down into something. And Heidi made it sound
like actual, good English. [LAUGHTER] Because that’s what
she’s very gifted at. HEIDI SCHRECK: You were speaking
good English before, but– MIKE IVESON: I mean, I– HEIDI SCHRECK: It was
interesting though. I don’t think I realized
how important that was for this character–
obviously mine too. There is an element of
the play that is, like, bringing to light the things
that normally, I think, we are too ashamed to talk
about in this culture, or we just are too
polite to talk about, or we think we’re not
supposed to share, or all the layers of taboo. And so it is important,
I think, to find the kernels of the
things that you’re willing to share
for the first time, speaking to the larger idea
that the only way to move toward a more
humane, just culture is to be honest about what
it’s really like for us to live in this country. So, yeah. SPEAKER: Did you find, when
working on the material for yourself, that– Mike’s talked about
telling a story that he hasn’t told anybody. When you were working on
it, because it’s your piece, did you find that you
were telling yourself things you didn’t know? HEIDI SCHRECK: I certainly
discovered all kinds of things I didn’t know. I mean, I learn something new
every night doing the play, both just by the act of
saying things out loud and even having the debate. Like, I learned from
Rosdely and Thursday, like, in debating I am,
like, wait a second. They just beat me on that point. I think I have a better idea. I feel like the show is
constantly evolving in that way that we’re always
learning things. But the biggest thing for me–
the biggest thing I learned was that I was
actually very scared to talk about things that I
thought I was quite open about. Like, I grew up. My mom is a survivor of
physical and sexual violence. She was very open about it from
the time I was a little girl. She’s told me the story. She supported other
survivors publicly. And this was back in the ’80s. She was really on the forefront
of being open about that stuff. So when I started to talk
about those kinds of things in my show, I thought,
well, I grew up knowing that it’s important
to talk about this. And we shouldn’t
be ashamed of it. And it’s also not our fault
if that happens to us. And yet, I still was overcome. Like, the first time I
tried to speak it out loud on stage, my
heart started beating. I wanted to throw up. I did, in fact, walk
off stage and had to be convinced
to come back out. I drank some tequila after. I could feel in
my body, actually, like, centuries of
taboo, even though I thought I was very open and
OK talking about this stuff. That is the biggest
thing I learned. SPEAKER: I found
watching you, that it felt like a very brave act. And I thought about how you
do this eight times a week– HEIDI SCHRECK: Yes. SPEAKER: –and how
that’s probably freeing in a certain way. But also, it’s a lot
of emotional work and physical work to do
this over and over again. And I wondered if,
throughout the production, have you made concrete changes
to the script along the way to reflect either how the
experience has changed for you inside or to reflect
changing political situations, news cycle? HEIDI SCHRECK: I have not
made any giant changes. Like, things change. Little things change. Our debate changes
in a little ways. But the content is
largely the same mainly because it has
been the same in some ways for 230 years. Like, the things
I’m talking about are systems that
have been in place, well, for centuries but also
in this country for 230 years. So that doesn’t change a lot. But my relationship
to things changes. Many things are easier to
talk about now than they were. Sometimes they’re harder. Like, I found the whole– actually, I found this
week performing the show to be very exhausting because
of the Jeffery Epstein story. I’m actually, just
bringing so much more rage and grief into the
theater with me that I find that
a little harder. But in many ways, it’s been
very healing in my life. Like, my relationship
with my mom is at a whole new
beautiful place because we’ve been really even
more honest with each other than we were when
I was growing up. That part has been very healing. And then hearing other
people’s stories. People stay at the stage door
and share their own stories with me. And I find a lot of,
actually, comfort. I mean, it makes me sad that
the stories are so common. But I know that because
of the statistics. So I actually find comfort
in the sense of community and sharing and openness. SPEAKER: Rosdely and
Thursday, so for both of you, this is your first time on a
professional stage in a play, right? And I’m wondering,
what’s different or the same about
debating Heidi in front of an audience versus
a debate that you might do through school? ROSDELY CIPRIAN: It’s
different because, you know, there’s, like, 580
people watching now. But in this sense, it’s, like,
more comfortable with Heidi because, like, she’s, like,
this, like, this ball of light. I call her sunny sunny
sunshine sometimes. [LAUGHTER] It’s, like, more comfortable. And it’s, like, sometimes, Heidi
is, like, sometimes she, like, switches things up. And I’m just like, oh my god. And then sometimes I
have to switch things up. So in that way, it’s
kind of, like, hard. But then when I used to do
it in, like, school-wise, it would kind of be the same. But it would only
be the same when we did state and
city championships because that school
was watching. Then the judges were watching. There were, like,
three judges and, like, 20 kids crammed
into a classroom. And I honestly think that
that’s more intense than what I do in this show because it’s,
like, I find comfort when I’m doing the show now that I’ve
gotten used to it so much and the fact that Heidi shares
these deeply personal stories. I’m just, like, Rosdely,
you got to chill out. Like, you see what
she’s doing over here, and you’re freaking
out over a debate? [LAUGHTER] And that’s how it’s different. Just, like, the
feeling, but it’s way more intense when
you do it at school and when you have a debate
coach yelling at you. [LAUGHTER] HEIDI SCHRECK: There’s
no yelling in our– THURSDAY WILLIAMS:
Except for our part. HEIDI SCHRECK: Well, we yell. But, yes. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Yeah. HEIDI SCHRECK: We yell
during the debate. But– [LAUGHS] THURSDAY WILLIAMS:
For me, it’s the same. I– debating is something
I hold right here. Like, I just–
before every show, I’m backstage with my
stage manager, Terri, and I’m pacing back and forth. Like, oh my god, I’m so nervous. It’s really– it’s the
same feeling that I have before a real debate. The only thing is it’s funny. In my real debates, I’m
not laughing at all. The trophy is my goal. [LAUGHTER] So there’s no laughing there. But it’s pretty much the same. I go out with the same
energy, with the same mindset. It’s to win. And I’m nervous
just the same way. Probably nervous even
more for the show because it’s a lot of people. So I’m the same. HEIDI SCHRECK: I will say
one of the greatest pleasures for me is when we first
had this idea to have– I mean, it just seemed
like a beautiful idea, and since I did this
debate as a teenager, to have a teenager now
be part of the show. And I was, like, I didn’t
want this sense that if I was debating a teenager,
that there was anything cute about it or
that, like, I would be trying to let them win,
which, wow, it’s funny that I ever thought
that I would do that. So debating these
young women is– because, like, I’m
just fighting as hard as I can to actually win. And I get to be as
ferocious as I can possibly be because they
match and usually exceed me on every point. So it’s really exciting to get
to match wits with these women because they’re so brilliant. So that has been really
pleasurable for me. And I feel like I’ve
gotten better as a debater. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Yeah. You can really get, like,
your rage out there. [LAUGHTER] And it’s like sometimes
when I’m doing a debate, I’m just getting in it
and in it and in it. And I’m getting louder and
louder and louder and louder. And I’m just, like, well,
you’ve got to take it down. You don’t want to
kill these people. Yeah, you can really
let it all out because Heidi is
giving it her all. I’m giving it my all. I’m trying to destroy Heidi. And I’m trying to yell at
her during the cross ex. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: I would
say that sometimes it’s fun debating Heidi
because sometimes I try to trick her with some words. And I will tell a funny story. So we did a debate call. And I’m like, OK, Heidi. These are the questions I’m
going to ask you for the show. MIKE IVESON: Debate
call, is, like, what we do to prepare for
the show before the show. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: Yeah. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Yeah. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: And
so she’s, like, OK. I’m preparing my
answers for this. I think this is an
off-Broadway, right? HEIDI SCHRECK: Yes. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: And–
and we’re, like, yeah. OK. So when the show started,
I asked her new questions. [LAUGHTER] And she was, like, uh-huh. HEIDI SCHRECK: She
was really mean. [LAUGHTER] THURSDAY WILLIAMS: Fun. It’s fun. I personally like things like
that because one thing about me when it comes to,
like, the Constitution, I love when people challenge me. I love thinking on my feet. It’s just, let’s keep going. Let’s keep going at it. Like, I have points. You have points. Some are stronger than others. I will find more
points, invent my own. But it’s just debate. Like, it’s fun. It’s amazing. HEIDI SCHRECK:
Rosdely, actually, when we first started
working together, taught me this term
called speed-thinking, which you learned from
your debate coach, Mr. [INAUDIBLE],,
which I really love, which is this idea of being
put in kind of a pressure cooker of a debate. Suddenly your mind starts
working at this hyperspeed and ideas start coming
to you that you might not have if you were just
sitting alone, unchallenged. And I love that idea. I feel like you do that too. It’s just, like– yeah. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: It’s
crazy that a 12 year old two years ago would be yelling
at you about the Constitution. HEIDI SCHRECK: Yes. Rosdely was 12 when she
first started doing the show. SPEAKER: I was going to
ask if there’s anything that you and Mike feel like
you’ve learned from working with these two young women. And you kind of just
answered that a little bit. HEIDI SCHRECK: I learned what
a Horcrux is in Harry Potter. [LAUGHTER] MIKE IVESON: That’s a big one. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Yeah. MIKE IVESON: That’s
a real big one. HEIDI SCHRECK: No. Actually, I also
learned from Thursday, when we first started
working together what “strict scrutiny” meant. I mean, I sort of understood
it vaguely as a legal concept. And then she just laid
it down for all of us. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: It
wasn’t only strict. It’s intermediate, rational
basis, and strict scrutiny. HEIDI SCHRECK: Yes. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: The
levels of scrutiny. There are legal
terms I have been wrestling with that
she explained very cogently upon first meeting. [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER: So I want to
ask you a little bit about the life of the show
after the end of August. So the run on Broadway
is coming to an end. But what happens next? HEIDI SCHRECK: Well, we’re going
to Washington, DC in September for two weeks, which
will be fascinating. Well, Thursday is
going to college– THURSDAY WILLIAMS: Mm-hmm. HEIDI SCHRECK: –which we’re
all very excited about. [APPLAUSE] Rosdely will be
performing in DC. And, yeah, we’re going to
do it there for two weeks. And then, in 2020, there
will be a kind of tour. And we’re working that out
right now because I’m not able to go everywhere. So this will be the first time
another actor plays my role. And we’re figuring
out how to do that. I think because of the nature
of the piece, that person– like Mike does in the
show– will eventually have to sort of step
out of character and become themselves and share
something about themselves in relationship to
the Constitution. So we’re figuring
out how to do that. SPEAKER: That’s exciting. HEIDI SCHRECK: Yeah, yeah. SPEAKER: Do you foresee
that you will step into any of the parts of the tour? HEIDI SCHRECK: I’m
sure that I will. Yes, I’ve been doing
it for so long now that I just need a little break. But, yes. I will definitely do
it again in the future. SPEAKER: So I was
kind of wondering if– this is for everybody– if there was one amendment
or Supreme Court argument that you would like
to feature, what would it be outside
of the two amendments that were discussed
in the piece? MIKE IVESON: Oh, like if
we were making new play. SPEAKER: Yeah. Absolutely. HEIDI SCHRECK: Oh. I mean, my new play would
be called the Equal Rights Amendment [LAUGHS]. Long overdue. MIKE IVESON: Yeah. ROSDELY CIPRIAN:
That’s a good title. HEIDI SCHRECK: Thank you. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: E-R-A,
long overdue, dot, dot, dot. HEIDI SCHRECK:
That would be mine. Yeah. MIKE IVESON: I mean,
it’s hard to not want to go in on the Second
Amendment or Citizens United. I mean, like, both of them are
so egregious that I feel, like, you can talk about both of
them for forever and ever. I have no idea how we
would go in on that. But I’m interested by
both those problems. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Well,
I always thought– because I like the
creative side of things. So I always wanted to
feature the First Amendment. And I think the title of my
play would be, What can I say? What can I not? HEIDI SCHRECK: Oh. That’s a great title. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: I just thought
of it, like, five seconds ago. [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER: Speed thinking. HEIDI SCHRECK: I know. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: I’m next. I don’t know, guys. I don’t know. SPEAKER: We can– ROSDELY CIPRIAN:
Yeah, not right now. I’ll tell you after. Yeah. SPEAKER: OK. If you could create
your own amendment today and you could just put
it in the Constitution, what would it be about? HEIDI SCHRECK: Oh, my god. I mean, I’ll go back to mine. So I think we
should pass the ERA. But more importantly, either
next or instead of the Equal Rights Amendment or– I feel like there is a
human rights amendment that needs to be passed. And this has been discussed. People have talked about this,
like an equal rights amendment that explicitly prohibits
discrimination– excuse me– explicitly prohibits
discrimination on the basis of sex, gender,
sexual orientation, ability, immigration status. I feel, like,
personally, I think we need essentially what I would
call a human rights amendment. And Thursday could explain
this more cogently to you, but just the idea that it’s
very hard, for example, to prove discrimination on
the basis of sex and all those other
categories I just listed. So I feel like– THURSDAY WILLIAMS: Do you guys
want me to explain it to you? HEIDI SCHRECK: Yes. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Yes, go. All right THURSDAY WILLIAMS:
So strict scrutiny, it’s still a little
bit jumbled in my mind because I did this,
like, three years ago. So it’s, like, the different
levels of scrutiny. Rational basis is really easy to
get passed in court cases that go through rational basis. Like, it’s easy for you to
get a violation on that. Like, the court will just
be like, OK, whatever. Like, it’s like an
easy case to pass. Then you have
intermediate scrutiny. That’s what you
bring to the court when you have discrimination
based on gender. That’s a little easier to pass. But it takes a
little bit more time. What you really want is strict
scrutiny to be triggered. Once you got strict scrutiny,
the court has to take– it’s like a deep
and– it’s strict– deep analysis. And that’s based on race, sex. And that is why when it comes
to the thing about the Equal Rights Amendment,
it’s, like, well, we have the 14th Amendment
that says, like, no. It basically says equal
protection under the law. But it passes, like, under
intermediate scrutiny but not strict scrutiny. So when we have the
Equal Rights Amendment. It has fine lines. And so the court has to
use strict scrutiny, which means that it will be a lesser
chance of them violating your rights based on all
the things she just listed. HEIDI SCHRECK: And can I ask
you– strict scrutiny, OK. So this is what I understand. In terms of, like,
proving discrimination based on sex, say, based on
the fact that I’m a woman, it’s, like, you have to
prove intention, right? THURSDAY WILLIAMS:
It’s the language. The law has to be
narrowly tailored– OK. So it’s like this. The cases that I’ve got, it’s
like if your legislature passed a law that says, like,
well, because you’re– I don’t know– a woman,
you can’t do this. You can bring that case
to the Supreme Court. And then it’s, like, is
this law narrowly tailored– I forgot. There’s another one. There’s two steps
that you have to pass. Like, it’s, like, it’s fine,
fine, fine, fine lines. Like, it’s, like, it has
to serve, like, the means. HEIDI SCHRECK: But
the general idea is that it’s just harder
to prove discrimination on the basis of sex. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: It goes– like, you have a less violation. HEIDI SCHRECK: Right. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: So when I
learned it, I was, like, what? HEIDI SCHRECK: This is what we
do in rehearsal all the time. But we need an equal
rights amendment. That’s all I’m saying. You know, it should cover a
lot of categories [LAUGHS].. THURSDAY WILLIAMS:
I’ll give an example. I’ve been done with debates. I, like, erased my everything. But it’s like– I forgot the word. It’s like it has to be
narrowly tailored to– MIKE IVESON: And something else. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: Yeah. It’s something else. There’s two things. It’s like the law– MIKE IVESON: Two litmus tests. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: Yeah. There you go. You’re in my mind. Yeah. I forgot the second part. But it’s, like, you
bring it to the court. HEIDI SCHRECK: I
will just say this. I’m going to piggyback. No, no. She explained it
me very well, like, the legal implications of them. But because I’m
an actor and not– I, like, took it into the
larger story, which is just, like, the numerous ways the
14th Amendment, equal protection under the law, has failed
so many populations in this country– MIKE IVESON: Even
though it nominally is supposed to protect– HEIDI SCHRECK: –so many of us. Even though it’s supposed to
protect all of us equally, it just is failing us
over and over again. And therefore, I think
we need an amendment that explicitly states who is
protected and why and how. That’s what I think. OK. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: But also,
I just have to say one thing. [LAUGHTER] I don’t know. I’ve been thinking
about this for a while. So I brought the Equal Rights
Amendment to school, right? I was giving a presentation. And then one of my friends
asked me society has evolved and new, like, identities
are being created. And it’s, like, will the
Equal Rights Amendment be for them too? HEIDI SCHRECK: That’s
a great question. MIKE IVESON: New sort
of gender categories. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: Because
we know it’s for women. MIKE IVESON: Yeah. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: But who
knows what we’re going to have– MIKE IVESON: Yeah. THURSDAY WILLIAMS:
–30, 50 years from now. Are we going to just make
another amendment for them? HEIDI SCHRECK:
Well, why don’t we make a more encompassing
amendment then? I think if you say, on the
basis of gender, for example, then if you identify as
non-binary, if your– THURSDAY WILLIAMS: Then
that will be intermediate. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Yeah. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: It’s so– ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Because like
Thursday said, in 30 years, we don’t know what group we
might be addressing right now. HEIDI SCHRECK: So
you’re saying, like, if we enumerate the
categories, then we might be in
trouble in 30 years. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: I
mean, yeah, ’cause there might be
something that comes up that we don’t know about yet. HEIDI SCHRECK: Well, then
we pass another amendment. MIKE IVESON: Yeah. HEIDI SCHRECK: All right. ROSDELY CIPRIAN:
It’s not that easy. [LAUGHTER] Yeah, let’s just
pass an amendment. SPEAKER: So let’s take a couple
of questions from the audience. We’ll go over here first. AUDIENCE: Thanks for this. This was great. So I was struck when
you had the experience of Sonia Sotomayor telling you
that Ruth Bader Ginsburg wasn’t coming. That uniquely, not
too many people have been deliberately lied
to by a Supreme Court justice. [LAUGHTER] I was wondering
what that effect has on your faith in the
Constitution [INAUDIBLE]?? SPEAKER: Oh, my god. [LAUGHTER] THURSDAY WILLIAMS: It
doesn’t have an effect. I am really actually
happy she did that because for
Justice Sotomayor, it was, like, aahhhh! Like, I screamed. But then for RBG, it was,
like, a whole different– it was, like– MIKE IVESON: She wouldn’t have
been able to do the debate if she had known. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: I would
have probably, like, just froze and was, like, show over. The end. Like, you know, like, I
would have probably, like, walked off stage. So I’m kind of happy
that she did that. And it turns out
that they’ve been having conversations about me. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: They’ve been
in cahoots with each other. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: So maybe
that’s not a bad thing. I actually love my
Constitution even more because you know what? These women get to stay on that
court along with other people. But– SPEAKER: Thank you. AUDIENCE: Thank you so
much for coming out today. So my question is you
mentioned that every day, sometimes your feelings
towards the show change based on the news. And as an audience
member, when I saw it, I can definitely see, had
I saw this show maybe two weeks earlier, how I
would feel the same. So I’m curious, as
you get ready to go on tour, what role
of location do you think is maybe going to
take in to affect your audience? HEIDI SCHRECK: That’s
a fantastic question. I don’t know. I’m so excited to find out. I mean, I would love to
take it to my hometown, for example, which
is an amazing town. It’s a rural, fairly
conservative town. I crafted it deliberately
to be a conversation, to be something that
would, hopefully, be welcoming to different
kinds of people in part because I would like
to bring it to my town. So I don’t know. I think it will be
interesting to do it for people who are maybe less
on the same page than we are. We’re all on the same page
about most of these issues. And I think it will be important
and fascinating to take it to places where
people maybe are not. Yeah. But I have no idea what that’s
going to look like [LAUGHS].. AUDIENCE: Awesome. Thank you. SPEAKER: Thank you. AUDIENCE: Hi guys. Thank you so much for coming. I’ve been following this since
it was off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop. And it’s amazing. But it’s great that you guys are
getting such positive reception too because everyone loves it. It’s a really important play. I wanted to know sort
of your decision– you talked a little
bit about the decision to cast teenagers as sort of
a play on your teenage self. But I’m interested
to know your decision to cast nonprofessional
actors and debaters. And also, why, specifically, you
chose these two great ladies. HEIDI SCHRECK: I wanted to
have real debaters because I wanted to have a real debate. And I didn’t want
to cast an actor and then write a debate for
us that was then performed. Now, of course, we’ve
been doing it a long time. So there is a performing
element to it now. And we know the
debate quite well. But I wanted the
reality of, like, of getting into it
with an actual debater. And then the truth is, as
you might know, like, debate and theater, there’s
a lot of crossover, especially in high school,
like, a lot of kids who do both. Rosdely does. Thursday, no. You haven’t done theater
before this, right? But that was the reason. And then in terms of
Thursday and Rosdely, I will just say this. We had two rounds of
auditions when we first hired Rosdely when she was
12 in our first workshop version of it. And then Thursday, we hired
for New York Theater Workshop. We had several days of
auditions in both cases. Those were the best
days of my life. I was like, wow. Every young woman in the
city is a genius, apparently. It was really overwhelming,
truly, and gave me such hope. And out of all of
those geniuses, these were the most brilliant. So that’s all I can say. They truly just blew me
away with their intellect and their talent. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Even though
Heidi wasn’t at my audition. HEIDI SCHRECK: I saw your video. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Video! HEIDI SCHRECK: Yes. ROSDELY CIPRIAN: What video? HEIDI SCHRECK: You– oh my god. [LAUGHTER] We’ll talk. [LAUGHTER] AUDIENCE: Thank you. You made the right choice. HEIDI SCHRECK: Thank you. AUDIENCE: Hi everyone. I’m visiting from
London this week. And coincidentally, was
at your show last night. HEIDI SCHRECK: Oh, my gosh! AUDIENCE: It was amazing. HEIDI SCHRECK: Thank you. AUDIENCE: I learned a ton
about the US Constitution that I didn’t know. And it made me
wonder if you thought about what you wanted
foreigners, non-Americans, to take from the play. HEIDI SCHRECK: Well, I
don’t know what I intended. But I will say we
have a lot of judges, actually, from other countries. And when we have the
debate at the end– MIKE IVESON: Yeah, that’s
happened quite a lot. HEIDI SCHRECK: Yeah. A lot of times judges– I think when they’re
not from America, a lot of times they vote to abolish. Is that true? ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Yeah. HEIDI SCHRECK: They’re
like, yeah, get rid of it. I’m from Canada. Use ours. But what I have
noticed, like, speaking to people from other
countries– and you all don’t have a constitution, right? No. Is that I think the
questions we’re asking and the issues
we’re debating are issues that are urgent in pretty
much every country in the world right now. And that’s the feedback I’ve
been getting in terms of, like, whose rights are protected,
whose aren’t; what immigration means to any given country;
what the rights of women are in any given country. So I’ve found that
there seems to be a lot of universal connection,
which has been exciting. And then either countries
also they have a constitution, or they don’t. But they’re really
interested in the idea of, like, how a document like
this shapes a country and shapes a people. Yeah. AUDIENCE: Hey, all. I just saw your show on Monday. It was amazing. Thank you for coming
and talking to us. Something that really struck
me when I was watching it is that you all clearly seem
to, like, hold some sort of love for the Constitution, I
would guess largely, like, the government and
some of its workings. And I think that’s
something that affects so many
Americans today is just this belief that, like,
the Constitution is so broken that it’s really not
something for us, and fixing it feels so insurmountable. So how do you
balance, like, despair at current state of things
with, like, really caring for this document and thinking
that it can work for us? MIKE IVESON: I feel
like one of the things that the show does–
almost addresses the previous point
too– one of the things is that it’s just
that it’s a chance to get up close with
something that in a way we’re expected to
take for granted. Do you know what I mean? We don’t engage. I think that the end
point of the show could be actual engagement
with something that dictates our lives that we spend
a significant amount of time trying not to think about. I mean, not to make a
Google-centric metaphor, but it’s like a terms and
conditions kind of thing. You know what I mean? Like, you check off the box
in terms and conditions. Then you don’t actually read it. Do you know what I’m saying? And so, like, I feel like
the Constitution is that. We’re taking the time. I mean, my friends
who see it, I feel like they don’t ever say it. But they’re quite
shocked at how deep Heidi goes into one amendment. It’s just, like, even when
you learned it in school, you don’t do that. You don’t actually go
through sort of word by word and be like this relates
to me like this, really. So I mean I think
there’s a way that no matter how many horrible
things have been done in the name of this document,
engagement with it, I think, promotes hope, weirdly. Like, it seems insurmountable
because it seems, like, you’re never going to be
able to read this whole thing. But actually, all
you have to do is start reading it at some point. And then you can assimilate it. I don’t know. Now I’m just using words. [LAUGHTER] HEIDI SCHRECK: Makes sense. SPEAKER: We’ll take one
more question, I think. AUDIENCE: Do you ever
hear Supreme Court rulings that you agree with the
outcome but disagree with the interpretation
of the Constitution or vice versa, where you
agree with the interpretation but don’t like the outcome? And is that a good thing? What does it mean
for the Constitution? Should the goal be to
fix the Constitution and interpret it
faithfully or use the tools we have to sort
of get the outcome whatever way possible? HEIDI SCHRECK: That’s
a great question. I think there’s– THURSDAY WILLIAMS: Wait. I’m sorry. Can you just give me
that question again? AUDIENCE: Well, So it’s– what should the goal of
the Constitution be– ROSDELY CIPRIAN: Oh, wait. I’m sorry. So the first one you
said, have you ever had an interpretation
where you’re, like, you don’t agree with? AUDIENCE: Where you either
agree with the interpretation and don’t like the
outcome or disagree with the interpretation
but you’re, like, good. I wanted this. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: So in “DC
versus Heller,” our Supreme Court stated that
handguns are considered protected under arms. But then there was
a reasoning that says it’s anything that’s
not dangerous and unusual. So when I debated
this, I’m like all guns are dangerous and unusual. MIKE IVESON: And unusual. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: What type
of interpretation are we– but I agreed with it. I said, OK, fine. It’s, you know, fine. Fine. So that’s my example. Yeah. HEIDI SCHRECK: And then– yeah, go. No. THURSDAY WILLIAMS: And
your second question was, how do we– AUDIENCE: Well, so if you agree
with the interpretation of “DC versus Heller,” like, is that– is that a failing
of the Constitution? Or would it have
been a good thing if the minority opinion,
which you disagree with, had won, if that makes sense? MIKE IVESON: Yeah,
right, right, right. I mean, many of the
cases that are cited have multiple arguments, right? Like, especially, I mean,
if it’s, like, a 7 to 2 Court, there’ll be, like,
two or three factions. Isn’t it true? I mean, that’s a good question. I mean, does it– I don’t– I don’t know if you
have to agree with how they arrived at a certain decision. I suppose the
Supreme Court would say you just have to
abide by the decision no matter how they got there. HEIDI SCHRECK: I would say
that it’s a fantastic question. I think the one thing I’ve
honed in on just making the play and performing it
over and over is that when it seems clear
that the Constitution is consistently failing
a group of people, then I feel like maybe this is
the point that we look and say we need to pass an amendment. For example, in the
cases I talk about– “Griswold versus
Connecticut,” “Roe v. Wade”– those are decisions
I agree with. Griswold legalized
birth control. “Roe v. Wade” legalized the
right to choice, the right to get an abortion. I agree with both
of those decisions but not the way they
came about them. They tried to bring both
of those cases in terms of equal protection
under the law, which means like how can you
be equally protected in this country as a woman
if you don’t have rights over your own body, if
you’re not allowed to control your own reproductive life? But the Court didn’t
think that worked. So they had to bring
it under the right to privacy, which is
a very tenuous right. It’s not enumerated
in the Constitution. And it’s one of
the things that has left our reproductive
rights in peril. So I think those were
good decisions made with bad reasoning, personally. A lot of people
disagree with me. And then I think the other case
I talk about in the play, which is “Gonzalez versus
Castle Rock,” which is where the Constitution,
it just explicitly failed to say that women
have protection in this country from
domestic violence, from physical violence,
from sexual violence, and said that the police are not
compelled by the Constitution to offer that kind
of protection. It was a badly argued
case in many ways. There were problems with it. But to me, the
fact that it was so hard to find in favor
of police protection for, in this case, a
woman and her daughters, suggests to me that
there’s something wrong with the Constitution
and that we should look again at passing an amendment. And I think that the
Constitution, I mean, it was explicitly
written to evolve. So when people talk about
being originalist, to me the originalist spirit
of the Constitution is that it was made
explicitly to be something that grows and changes. They did it right away. They put the Bill of
Rights in right away. So I feel like to
me, yeah, to me originalism is an
evolving Constitution. Yeah. Thank you. SPEAKER: I would love to
continue this conversation. And I loved talking
to all of you. And I know we’re all
having a great time. But we are out of time. So I want to thank you
so much, each of you, for coming in today
and wish you the best on the rest of the run
and the show’s future. HEIDI SCHRECK:
Thank you so much. MIKE IVESON: Thank you. [APPLAUSE]

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