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BETH LACKE TO STAR IN
TIMELINE THEATRE’S PRODUCTION OF
WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME
MAY 10 – JULY 2
Raymond Fox, Sophie Ackerman, and Makalah Simpson
also featured in first Chicago staging of Heidi Schreck’s
Tony Award-nominated play, directed by Helen Young
TimeLine Theatre Company concludes its 2022-2023 season with the first Chicago-based production of the 2019 Broadway sensation, What the Constitution Means to Me by Heidi Schreck.
Fifteen-year-old Heidi earned her college tuition by winning Constitutional debate competitions across the United States. In this hilarious, hopeful, and guttingly human debate-meets-play, Schreck resurrects her teenage self to trace the relationship between four generations of women—all while grappling with the founding document that, for better and worse, shapes their lives.
Helen Young, who staged TimeLine's Chicago debut of The Chinese Lady last season, returns to direct the first Chicago production of What the Constitution Means to Me. Beth Lacke plays “Heidi.” TimeLine's cast includes Raymond Fox, Sophie Ackerman, and Makalah Simpson.
With constitutional law and a woman's right to choose caught in political crosshairs, What the Constitution Means to Me has never been more timely. Don't miss TimeLine's first Chicago staging of this Pulitzer Prize finalist, and two-time Tony Award nominee, hailed as a “singularly charming, politically urgent and cathartically necessary play” (Los Angeles Times) that shows “how broad concepts of law and governance effect individual lives in the most intimate ways” (The Guardian).
Beth Lacke stars in What the Constitution Means to Me.
All Pre-production photos by Joe Mazza / brave lux, inc.
Pictured, from left: What the Constitution Means to Me playwright Heidi Schreck, director Helen Young, and cast members Beth Lacke, Raymond Fox, Sophie Ackerman, and Makalah Simpson.
TimeLine Theatre Company announced today that Beth Lacke will return to the TimeLine stage to star as “Heidi” in the fourth production of the company’s 2022-2023 season—the first Chicago-based production of the “shattering, galvanizing, and very funny” (The Guardian) What the Constitution Means to Me by Heidi Schreck. Directed by Helen Young, who most recently directed the acclaimed hit The Chinese Lady at TimeLine, What the Constitution Means to Me runs May 10 – July 2, 2023 at TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Avenue in Chicago. I'll be out for the Press Night on May 17th, so check back shortly after for my full review. I had the pleasure of reviewing the Broadway tour a few years back, and I'm eager to see TimeLine Theatre's take on this thought provoking piece.
Tickets to What the Constitution Means to Me are now on sale. To purchase and for more information, visit timelinetheatre.com or call the TimeLine Box Office at (773) 281-8463 x6.
Beth Lacke (she/her) previously has been seen at TimeLine in Awake and Sing! and Frost/Nixon. A graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University, her other theatrical credits include Domesticated (Steppenwolf), God of Carnage (Goodman); Big Lake, Big City (Lookingglass); and a Jeff Award-winning turn in The Life and Times of Tulsa Lovechild: A Road Trip (Collaboraction). Recent television and film credits include Night Sky opposite Sissy Spacek (Amazon Prime), Christmas Again and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (Disney+) and Guess Who Died (Norman Lear/NBC).
Joining Lacke in the cast will be Raymond Fox (he/him) as “Legionnaire.” Fox is also returning to TimeLine, where he previously appeared in Blood and Gifts, receiving an Equity Jeff Award for Actor in a Supporting Role, Play. A Lookingglass Theatre Ensemble Member, where he’s acted in numerous productions since 1989, Fox also has appeared at countless other theatres around Chicago and the United States, as well on Broadway in Metamorphoses.
Rounding out the cast are Sophie Ackerman and Makalah Simpson, who will alternate the role of “Debater.”
Sophie Ackerman (she/her) is returning to TimeLine, where she debuted in The Audience. Currently a freshman at Lane Tech High School, Ackerman’s theatre credits also include The Music Man (Goodman), Beauty and the Beast (Drury Lane), The King and I (Lyric Opera) and the Lookingglass Young Ensemble. On screen she can be seen in Saturdays (Disney+) and South Side (HBO Max).
Makalah Simpson (they/them) also is returning to TimeLine, where they have spent three summers as part of the TimeLine South Ensemble, creating and performing in devised pieces Fulmination, Flowers Grow On Trees, and Recidivism. Born and raised in Chicago, Simpson is an avid activist and artist and is currently a senior at Thornton Fractional South High School.
The production team for What the Constitution Means to Me includes Jessica Kuehnau Wardell (Scenic Designer, she/her), Megan E. Pirtle (Costume Designer, she/her), Maggie Fullilove-Nugent (Lighting Designer, she/her), Amy Peter (Properties Designer, she/her), Forrest Gregor (Sound Designer, he/him), Maren Robinson (Dramaturg, she/her), and Miranda Anderson (Stage Manager, she/her).
Heidi Schreck (Playwright) is a writer and performer living in Brooklyn. Her play What the Constitution Means to Me was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist and won the Obie Award and New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American Play in 2019. She also received two Tony Award nominations for Best Play and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play, and received the 2019 Benjamin Hadley Danks Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters. A filmed version of What the Constitution Means to Me, starring Schreck, premiered in 2020 exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, and was nominated for a Critics Choice Award, a PGA Award, and a DGA Award. Her other work includes Grand Concourse, which debuted at Playwrights Horizons and Steppenwolf Theatre in 2014-15 and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and her first play Backwards into China, produced by Printer's Devil at the Theater Off Jackson in 1997. Screenwriting credits include I Love Dick, Billions, Nurse Jackie, Dispatches from Elsewhere, and projects in development with Plan B, Amazon, and Imagine Television. Schreck has also taught playwriting and screenwriting at New York University, Columbia, and Kenyon College, and is the recipient of three Obie Awards, a Drama Desk, the Horton Foote Playwriting Award, and a Theatre World Award.
Helen Young (Director) returns to TimeLine, where she mostly recently directed the acclaimed hit production of Lloyd Suh’s The Chinese Lady. At TimeLine, she also directed the online event Setting the Stage: The Chinese Lady — Building a Bridge Toward Asian Visibility, the TimePieces readings of The Chinese Lady and The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin, and served as Associate Director of The Audience and Assistant Dramaturg of Chimerica. Chicago credits include directing Wild Boar and director lead for New China Festival (Silk Road Rising), directing American Hwangap (Jeff Recommended) and Tiny Dynamite (Halcyon/A-Squared), and directing Tea (Jeff Recommended, Prologue Theatre). Other directing credits include work with Chicago Dramatists, Remy Bumppo, Our Perspectives, Indie Boots (reading festival winner), Polarity Ensemble (reading festival winner), Artemisia, Artistic Home, Token Theatre, and Miranda Theatre's Liz Smith Reading Series at the Cherry Lane in New York City. Young is also an actor and serves on the boards of Token Theatre and Chicago Dramatists.
ABOUT WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME
Heidi Schreck's Pulitzer Prize finalist is a “slyly crafted piece of persuasion and a tangible contribution to the change it seeks” (The New York Times) and a “singularly charming, politically urgent and cathartically necessary play” (Los Angeles Times) that shows “how broad concepts of law and governance effect individual lives in the most intimate ways” (The Guardian).
Fifteen-year-old Heidi earned her college tuition by winning Constitutional debate competitions across the United States. In this hilarious, hopeful, and guttingly human debate-meets-play, she resurrects her teenage self in order to trace the relationship between four generations of women—all while grappling with the founding document that, for better and worse, shapes their lives.
What the Constitution Means to Me became a sensation upon its premiere at New York Theatre Workshop in 2018 and went on to a five-month Broadway run with Schreck in the leading role, garnering Tony Award nominations for Best Play and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play. A national tour—launched in 2020, paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and resumed in 2021—followed. The play has been filmed, again with Schreck performing, for Amazon Prime Video.
TimeOut New York declared: “Here is something that every citizen must see: It’s theater in the old sense, the Greek sense, a place where civic society can come together and do its thinking and fixing and planning.”
On the heels of the reversal of the foundational Roe v. Wade ruling, What the Constitution Means to Me is bound to feel even more relevant, profound, and searing than during its original run and Broadway debut. In the end, Shreck’s personal stories reflect our own, as does her passion, her laughter, and her outrage at a document that deserves to be challenged as much as it is upheld.
“TimeLine is thrilled to include Heidi Shreck’s profoundly moving play in our 26th season,” said Artistic Director PJ Powers. “We first encountered this script in 2018, amidst a national debate spurred by the Brett Kavanaugh hearings for the Supreme Court, and it was immediately clear that this wholly original piece of theatre was an ideal fit for TimeLine’s mission. While its resonance was palpable when it first premiered, its impact has only grown since then. Delving into the past through stories that are both personal and political, Heidi examines the flaws and fragility of our country’s founding document and shines a light on the ways in which the quest to form a more perfect union remains a work in progress, beset by steps forward and back.”
“When I first encountered What the Constitution Means to Me, I was struck by how the play got me to realize I indeed have feelings about the Constitution (and our democratic process)!” said director Helen Young. “It energized me to want to talk to others who saw the play and debate about its topics, especially if others had differing interpretations. It reminded me that discourse, which includes listening, is an essential obligation of our democracy, and that the contents and interpretation of these living documents are woven into our everyday living, whether we realize it or not.”
Tickets to What the Constitution Means to Me are now on sale via timelinetheatre.com or by calling the TimeLine Box Office at (773) 281-8463 x6.
Preview tickets are $25. Single tickets to regular performances start at $47 (Wednesday through Friday evenings), $54 (Saturday evenings and Thursday matinees) and $62 (Saturday and Sunday matinees). Student discount is 35% off regular price with valid ID. TimeLine is also a member of TCG’s Blue StarTheatre Program and is offering $25 tickets to U.S. military personnel, veterans, first responders, and their spouses and family.
Ticket buyers ages 18-35 may join TimeLine’s free MyLine program to obtain access to discounted tickets, special events and more. Discounted rates for groups of 10 or more are also available. Visit timelinetheatre.com/discounts for more about available discounts.
Previews for What the Constitution Means to Me are Wednesday, May 10 through Friday, May 12 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, May 13 at 4 p.m.; Sunday, May 14 at 2 p.m.; and Tuesday, May 16 at 7:30 p.m. Press Night is Wednesday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m. Opening Night is Thursday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m. Regular performances continue through July 2: Wednesdays (May 24, June 7, and June 21 only) and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. Exceptions: No shows on Saturday, May 20 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, June 25; additional Thursday matinees on June 1, June 15, June 22, and June 29 at 2 p.m.
Post-Show Discussions: A brief, informal post-show discussion hosted by a TimeLine Company Member and featuring the dramaturg and members of the production team on Sunday, May 21; Wednesday, May 24; Thursday, June 8; and Thursday, June 15 at 2 p.m.
Pre-Show Discussions: Starting one hour before the performance, a 25-minute introductory conversation hosted by a TimeLine Company Member and the dramaturg before the matinee performance on Thursday, June 1 and the evening performance on Thursday, June 15.
Company Member Discussion: A post-show discussion with the collaborative team of artists who choose TimeLine’s programming and guide the company’s mission on Sunday, June 11.
Sunday Scholars Panel Discussion: A one-hour panel discussion featuring experts on the themes and issues of the play alongside a member of the production team in a moderated discussion, following the performance on Sunday, June 18.
All discussions are free and open to the public. For details, visit timelinetheatre.com.
Distanced Performances: Performances on Sunday, May 28 and Wednesday, June 7 will have a capacity cap and seating chart so that patrons can sit with additional space allocated between parties.
Captioned Performances: Open-captioned performances with a text display of words and sounds heard during performances are Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17 at 4 p.m.
Audio-Described Performance: On Thursday, June 22, the performance will feature narration about visual elements of the production around the dialogue, available for individual patrons via headphones.
TimeLine Theatre is accessible to people with disabilities. Two wheelchair lifts provide access from street level to the theatre space and to lower-level restrooms. Audience members using wheelchairs or who need to avoid stairs, and others with special seating or accessibility needs, should contact the TimeLine Box Office in advance to confirm arrangements.
What the Constitution Means to Me will take place at TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington Ave., in Chicago’s Lakeview East neighborhood, near the corner of Wellington and Broadway, inside the former Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ building, now Chabad East Lakeview. TimeLine is served by multiple CTA trains and buses. There are multiple paid parking options nearby, plus limited free and metered street parking. Visit timelinetheatre.com/timeline-theatre for details and available discounts.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Currently, TimeLine will require mask-wearing only at selected performances of What the Constitution Means to Me each week, specifically all Thursday evening, Sunday matinee, and Distanced Seating performances (Sunday, May 28 at 2 p.m. and Wednesday, June 7 at 7:30 p.m.). While masking is no longer required at most performances, TimeLine will support an individual’s choice to mask and will continue to make good quality masks available upon request. TimeLine’s health and safety protocols are subject to change. To learn more, visit timelinetheatre.com/health-and-safety.
ABOUT TIMELINE THEATRE COMPANY
TimeLine Theatre Company, recipient of the prestigious 2016 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, was founded in April 1997 with a mission to present stories inspired by history that connect with today's social and political issues. Currently celebrating its 26th season, TimeLine has presented 85 productions, including 12 world premieres and 39 Chicago premieres, and launched the Living History Education Program, which brings the company's mission to life for students in Chicago Public Schools. Recipient of the Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence and the Richard Goodman Strategic Planning Award from the Association for Strategic Planning, TimeLine has received 60 Jeff Awards, including an award for Outstanding Production 11 times.
The company has long been bursting at the seams of its current leased home located at 615 W. Wellington Avenue in Chicago’s Lakeview East neighborhood, where the theatre has been in residence since 1999. In December 2018, TimeLine announced the purchase of property at 5033-35 North Broadway in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood to be the site of its new home. Plans feature an intimate black box theater seating up to 250 audience members, expanded area for the immersive lobby experiences that are a TimeLine hallmark, new opportunities for education and engagement, room to allow audience members to arrive early and stay late for theatergoing experiences that extend far beyond the stage, and more. TimeLine is working with HGA as architect for its new home project, which is expected to be completed in 2024.
TimeLine is led by Artistic Director PJ Powers, Executive Director Mica Cole, and Board President John Sterling. TimeLine Company members are Tyla Abercrumbie, Will Allan, Nick Bowling, Janet Ulrich Brooks, Behzad Dabu, Charles Andrew Gardner, Lara Goetsch, Juliet Hart, Anish Jethmalani, Mildred Marie Langford, Mechelle Moe, David Parkes, Ron OJ Parson, PJ Powers, and Maren Robinson.
Major corporate, government and foundation donors providing season support via TimeLine’s Annual Fund include: Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation; Crown Family Philanthropies; Joseph & Bessie Feinberg Foundation; Laughing Acres Family Foundation; Lloyd A. Fry Foundation; The MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity, and the Arts at Prince; National Endowment for the Arts; Polk Bros. Foundation; The Shubert Foundation; Van Dam Charitable Foundation; and Walder Foundation. TimeLine also acknowledges the support of a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
For more information, visit timelinetheatre.com or Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (@TimeLineTheatre).
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