When Obie Award-winning playwright Heidi Schreck was a teenager, she traveled the United States giving speeches about The Constitution for prize money. These experiences inspired her to write What the Constitution Means to Me, an engaging and entertaining play that is now playing in FST’s Keating Theatre.
Actress Amy Bodnar, who has performed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and in national tours, plays Schreck in FST’s production of the critically-acclaimed play. Over the course of 90 minutes, Bodnar’s character talks about her admiration and appreciation for The U.S. Constitution, but also discusses the people the document has let slip through the cracks.
We sat down with Amy Bodnar to talk about her personal connection to the play, the rehearsal process, and the challenges of being onstage, acting, and being vulnerable for an hour and a half straight with little to no break.
What does What the Constitution Means to Me mean to you, Amy Bodnar?
For me, this play is about the way that women have had to deal with generations of being left out of conversations (and laws) that directly affect them. The play is so beautifully constructed and personalized, yet I think that many people are going to relate to it. I certainly do.
What drew you to audition for What the Constitution Means to Me?
I loved this play from the first time I saw it, and I’ve wanted to do it ever since. It’s unlike anything I have ever done, and it is a thrill and a challenge every time I take the stage. I don’t want anyone to roll their eyes at this next comment, because you hear actors say things like I am about to say, probably a little too often, but I think this play is important. It is thought provoking. It has the power to help us to understand each other a little better, and it shows us that we have more in common than we think. And the things that we differ on can be appreciated and understood.
What the Constitution Means to Me has no intermission and requires you to be performing and connecting with an audience for almost 90 minutes straight with very few breaks. How do you keep yourself going during each eight or nine show week, especially given that your role is so emotionally and vocally demanding?
Hydration and rest are the key elements to being able to do this show eight times a week. My entire day revolves around doing this show. Everything I eat and everything I do has to be carefully considered.
What are some of the challenges of having no “fourth wall” between you and the audience with What the Constitution Means to Me? What is fun about this?
Well, I guess one of the challenges is how vulnerable I am in the situation. I am playing a character, but that character is very familiar and intimate with the audience from the first moment of the play. And I can often see and certainly hear what the audience is doing and saying. The fun part is the opening when I introduce the circumstances of the play and have more of a direct interaction with them.
What the Constitution Means to Me is now playing in FST’s Keating Theatre through February 26. For tickets and more information, click here.
Header Image: Amy Bodnar. Photo by John Jones.