The Constitution is a “living document,” one to progress with society, but only those fighting for the right to be represented in it have progressed. Our present has become turbulent and unpredictable, mainly because we no longer accept what was once normalized, and we don’t remain silent to oppression.
The award-winning play ”What the Constitution Means to Me” dust the Constitution back to the headlines of our minds and reminds the audience of the sole purpose of America’s most important document; while painting a picture of how it dictates our present.
The Tony Award nominee and shining Broadway success was written and mainly performed by Heidi Schreck. She re-enacts her life as a 15-year-old girl that earned her full college tuition by competing across the country in Constitutional debates. By going back and forth from her 15-year-old self and her current self, she knit-picks at our founding document, challenging its relevance today and lack of flexibility. Through a constitutional lens, the play pokes on issues like women’s rights, immigration, and domestic abuse.
If “What the Constitution Means to Me” could be described in one word, it would be depicted as humane. It displays real and personal experiences of abortion and abuse and features a cast that brings different generations’ voices. Rosdely Ciprian, 14 at the time of the play, a charming and intelligent young woman, represents her mastering of debate when she comes into the scenes towards the end and proudly presents her arguments regarding the founding document. The young girl alludes to race, the supreme courts’ power, and citizenship rights, opening a discourse when communication is vital yet lacking by our elected officials.
The bright Dominican-American teen is aware of the lack of representation of women of color and Latinas in our governmental institution and how minorities have been placed at the margins of the constitutional document itself. Rosdely recognizes that “…a lot of people like [her] me and [her] my background is not represented,” and this film opens the door for representation because “if another young Latina sees [her] me, it can give them hope.” It is truly beautiful to see such a talented young woman targeting issues of representation. Still, it is also eye-opening that girls like Rosdely have to worry about the lack of representation of her ethnicity and gender at such a young age. This film exposes that the Constitution needs to be treated as what it is, a ‘living document.’ One was created based on the ideals of the times and needs to be adapted to the society we are right now. One that empowers women accepts love for what it is, denounces abuse of power, and does not normalize inequality of any type.
When watching ”What the Constitution Means to Me,” now available in Amazon Prime Video, keep Rosdely’s advice in mind and “…prepare yourself and be open to new ideas” while reflecting on what the Constitution truly means to you. It is the moment to ask ourselves whether we truly feel represented by this document and whether our elected officials are defending our constitutional rights. Many are blind to our founding document’s antiquatedness, but those are afraid of change, and fear will never allow us to progress.