Review On WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME


Eric A Gordon

Eric A Gordon

Registered Critic


The play reaches back to the late 1980s, when 15-year-old Heidi, from her hometown of Wenatchee, Wash. (Apple Capital of the World), traveled across the United States to participate in Constitutional debate competitions sponsored by the American Legion, earning her college tuition with her prize-winning reflections on “What the Constitution Means to Me.” Aside from genre-bending in form, the play engages in a number of other kinds of shape-shifting. Dizzia portrays both Heidi Schreck now, a mature, wiser and perhaps more cynical woman in her 40s, and wistfully, without any change of clothes, the 15-year-old she once was. Later, when she engages spontaneously with the teenage debater, she can’t possibly still be Heidi Schreck; by now she must be herself, Maria Dizzia. Enough to make you dizzy (sorry!) sorting out everyone’s identity at any moment.

The droll American Legion guy too is a shape-shifter. The character is identified as Mike Iveson, but that’s the actor’s name. At one point, the actor drops the stiff drill-sergeant martinet rule-maker persona and becomes what he purports to be himself. Later on, he drops that too and just serves Ms. Dizzia in neither of those personas by handing her cue cards. I would also observe that the “understudy for Mike Iveson,” the aforementioned Gabriel Marin, seemingly would play “Mike Iveson,” not himself as “Gabriel Marin.” The audience also goes through an identity change: “Schreck” tells us we are the American Legion audience and we are all older white men smokers. Now I’m even dizzia.

Eric A Gordon
Eric A. Gordon, writes for People's World (peoplesworld.org). He has written for dozens of local, national, and international publications, mostly about art, music, culture, religion and politics. His undergraduate degree is from Yale and his doctorate in history is from Tulane. He was director of the Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring in Southern California from 1995 to 2010. Eric is the author of "Mark the Music: The Life and Work of Marc Blitzstein," and co-author of "Ballad of an American: The Autobiography of Earl Robinson." A book he translated from Portuguese ("Waving to the Train and Other Stories," by Hadasa Cytrynowicz) appeared in 2013. In 2015 he executive produced "City of the Future," a CD of Soviet Yiddish music from the 1930s. He is the former Southern California Chapter Chair of the National Writers Union (Local 1981 UAW/AFL-CIO).