Arden to debut intimate performances of ‘What the Constitution Means to Me’

Arden Theater Company

Opening soon at the Arden Theatre Company’s intimate Arcadia Stage, ‘What the Constitution Means to Me’ is the cultural institution’s second stage show of the season, and it’ll be shown from the end of the month through Dec. 10 to a capped audience of 175 people at a time. 

The 90-minute show, written by Heidi Schreck, and directed by Jennifer Childs—Artistic Director and Co-Founder of 1812 Productions—officially starts previews on Oct. 26, and originally was supposed to end its run on Dec. 3. But with increased demand, they decided to preemptively extend their run later in the year.  

The show was originally written in 2017, but gained more popularity in 2019 on Broadway at the Hayes Theater—and Schreck was in the leading role. As a release states, throughout the show, Schreck reimagines how the living document (that was created in Old City) has affected her past and how it is shaping the next generations of Americans. She debates her way through topics found within the Constitution, including women’s rights, slavery, immigration, and history, while tracing the profound relationship between four generations of women and the founding document that shaped their own lives.

Jennifer ChildsProvided

The plot culminates in the character of Heidi, who will be debating a 17-year-old local high school student, played by Local Masterman High School Senior Lily Chancey and Central High School Junior Dasha Mamontova, as both actresses will be alternating performances as the student debaters.

“‘What the Constitution Means to Me’ reminds me that yes, the Constitution is the foundation of our democracy, it is historical, it is legal, but it is also personal,” says the show’s director, Jennifer Childs, in a statement. 

Childs continues: “Behind the formal language of every article and amendment are human stories. Stories of people who couldn’t vote, who were not allowed to practice the religion of their choice, or who didn’t get read their Miranda rights. Schreck challenges us to look at this wonderful and flawed, beautiful and incomplete document, and see ourselves in it.”

The ‘What the Constitution Means to Me’ cast also features Brian McCann on top of Lily Chancey and Dasha Marmontova, with the latter two making their Arden debut. McCann on the other hand has performed at the venue before in past shows like ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, ‘Gem of the Ocean’, and ‘Great Expectations.’

Dasha MamontovaProvided

The role of Heidi will be played by Jessica Bedford in her Arden debut. Philadelphians may have caught the local actor, director, and playwright in other performances around town at the Walnut Street Theatre, Theatre Horizon, Lantern Theater, McCarter Theatre and beyond. 

“We’re thrilled to have Jennifer Childs and Jessica Bedford bringing their extraordinary talents to the Arden,” says Arden Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Terrence J. Nolen in a statement. “As director, Jennifer brings years of experience to the work, and, as an accomplished actress as well, is uniquely qualified to support and guide Jessica as she brings to life the voice and spirit of this piece. Jessica a great theatre artist, highly regarded as an actress and educator, both of which will be invaluable for this Philadelphia premiere of ‘What the Constitution Means to Me’ here at the Arden.”

Audience members will hopefully leave the Arden with various opinions about what the Constitution means to them, the release states, as Schreck’s work is meant to remind us that so many people with stories and experiences are not represented in or protected by the Constitution.

Lily ChanceyProvided

Single tickets for ‘What the Constitution Means to Me’ start at $30, with discounts available for students, groups of 10, seniors, children and teens. Tickets are available online at, by phone at 215-922-1122, or at the box office at Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. 2nd Street.