Observe the final two phrases within the title of Heidi Schreck’s hit present, “What the Structure Means to Me”: This can be a extremely private take, not a historic or authorized lecture. But Schreck succeeds in widening her autobiographical play right into a paean for fundamental equity: The American Structure, admired as it’s, fails to guard all of us from violence and discrimination.
Just like the latest captures of “Hamilton” and “American Utopia,” albeit on a way more intimate scale, “What the Structure Means to Me” (streaming on Amazon) efficiently preserves a Broadway expertise for the display screen. Schreck, who has the amiable presence, storytelling verve and pedagogical chops of a super schoolteacher, begins off by recounting how she paid for faculty with the cash she earned as a youngster giving speeches in regards to the Structure in American Legion halls.
A terrific actress who manages to make the textual content really feel off the cuff, Schreck begins by channeling her 15-year-old self, then shortly broadens the scope. She explores each her private historical past (together with her abortion) and household historical past to methodically expose the biases and omissions baked into the Structure. And all the time, she makes the possibly dry materials accessible, whereas her sidekick Mike Iveson, projecting “optimistic male vitality,” has a quiet, affecting presence.
The director Marielle Heller (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”) used a multicamera setup to shoot a few performances, as well as a rehearsal, of Oliver Butler’s production. She refrains from flashy moves, though a few judicious shots of the audience help widen the frame by suggesting the idea of community.
At the end of each performance, Schreck faced one of two poised New York high school debaters over whether the Constitution should be kept or abolished. (In the movie, it’s Rosdely Ciprian; you may see Thursday Williams in a bonus video.) A random viewers member was then requested to select the winner. A last panel informs us that the Structure was saved at 123 of the 183 Broadway performances.
What the Structure Means to Me
Not rated. Working time: 1 hour 40 minutes. Watch on Amazon.