"I was feeling a lot of rage and very hopeless and really wanted to find some way to channel that into action," said Heidi Schreck of her reaction to the recent news that the U.S. Supreme Court may soon roll back the abortion protections of Roe v. Wade.
So the Pulitzer finalist and Tony-nominated author/star of What The Constitution Means to Me did just that. Schreck gathered her original Broadway cast and will present a special one-night-only reading of the play to benefit the National Network of Abortion Funds June 9, with the help of producers Matt Ross, Diana DiMenna, Aaron Glick, Oliver Butler, and New York Theatre Workshop. Schreck also serves as producer.
"The show does a deep dive into the history of this [type of] potential ruling and the context of it and the potential consequences of it," Schreck explained, "So putting the show out there at this moment seems like it could be both cathartic and useful to people."
She continued, "[I also wanted] to be in a room with other people kind of expressing my feelings about this, and gaining support and solidarity with other people who really care about bodily autonomy and the rights of pregnant people."
Learn more about the event, and how Schreck hopes her play can be a balm to hurting audiences in the interview below. And join Schreck for a night of solidarity and support, by clicking here.
Are there any memories that stick out for you of audience's reacting to the play's abortion-related narratives?
Schreck: Yeah, they've been chipping away at Roe for a long time. When we were performing the show on Broadway, there was a kind of rash of new legislation passed in the spring and summer of 2019. And so when people came to the show, during that time, a lot of people would come up to me after the show and thanked me for talking about it and ask if I had changed the show to address that those rights were being rolled back. And I had to explain that no, the show didn't change at all, it's just the way the show kind of works. So a lot of people were happy to have the place to kind of express their rage and fear and sadness about the laws being rolled back. And also a place to learn something about those laws and why it’s possible to roll them back.
Tell us more about the National Network of Abortion Funds and why that was the beneficiary you chose.
I just felt right now, especially, I think it's triage. The important thing that needs to happen right now is that people who don't have access to healthcare, who don't have access to abortion, and who don't have access, in many cases, to a lifesaving medical procedure, just need practical help getting it. The National Network of Abortion Funds basically gives money to organizations all across the country who help people pay for transportation to go to states where they can get an abortion, and to help pay for education about non-surgical abortion.
What are the overlaps in the themes of What the Constitution Means to Me and the work of the National Network of Abortion Funds?
I had an abortion, and I tell the story of that in my show. I also trace the history of four generations of women in my family. I was the only person to come of age when abortion was technically legal, and the only person in my family who got to make that decision legally. The play tells the story of, I would say, the great harm that came to a lot of the women in my family because that choice wasn't available to them. It felt important to use the play to support what I think every person deserves, which is decision making power over their own body.