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'What the Constitution Means to Me' Breaks Records at the Taper

CENTER THEATRE GROUP ANNOUNCES “WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME” ACHIEVES THE HIGHEST SINGLE WEEK GROSS IN MARK TAPER FORUM HISTORY WHILE SETTING THE RECORD FOR MOST FREE AND LOW-COST TICKETS THROUGHOUT THE RUN

Four Dedicated Student Matinee Performances Reached More Than 2500 Students from Over 50 Local Schools

Center Theatre Group broke two records with the highly acclaimed engagement of “What the Constitution Means to Me” by offering more free and low-cost tickets throughout its run than any other production at the Mark Taper Forum while also setting the record for highest weekly gross in the theatre’s over 50-year history with $533,285 for the week ending February 23, 2020.

“Center Theatre Group is constantly experimenting with new ways to make everyone feel welcome and to break down barriers that keep people from coming to the theatre, a mission we share with the producers of this show,” said Meghan Pressman, Center Theatre Group Managing Director/CEO. “It’s exciting to see us uniting our access efforts—some continuing, some expanding, some new—under one umbrella, Theatre Access for L.A., which has put a new focus on this important work. With ‘What the Constitution Means to Me’ breaking sales records, it has also been heartening to see our generous donors make it possible to double our number of Student Matinee performances, ensuring that more first-time theatregoers and young people who wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to see this important play have this exceptional opportunity.”

Written by Heidi Schreck, directed by Oliver Butler and starring Maria Dizzia, the Tony-nominated play began performances on January 12, 2020 and was originally scheduled to run through February 16 before being extended twice. The production closes February 28, 2020.

To make sure as many people as possible could see “What the Constitution Means to Me,” Center Theatre Group partnered with several local law firms to launch a new funding initiative titled Theatre Access for L.A. Under this initiative, Center Theatre Group added $15 student rush tickets (a limited number available for students 25 and under with a valid student ID) and 232 $25 tickets in the extension week (in honor of the United States’ 232-year-old Constitution) to the existing FreePlay program (free tickets at a preview performance for people 25 years of age and under) and $15 TodayTix lottery (made available for all evening performances) in an effort to make theatre available to every audience. To date, 6,841 free and low-cost tickets were made available throughout the run including 2,520 tickets at four student matinees reaching students from over 50 local schools.

The Theatre Access for L.A. Initiative supports Center Theatre Group’s efforts to reach an audience that reflects the diverse makeup of Southern California and the communities it serves. A gift to this fund helps provide access to underrepresented community members and create a more inclusive theatre through subsidized ticket offers, innovative audience engagement and education projects and more. Lead funding for Theatre Access for L.A. is provided in part by Glaser, Weil LLP; Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman et al.; and Jeffer Mangels Butler and Mitchell LLP.

The student matinee program for “What the Constitution Means to Me” is generously supported by Deena and Edward Nahmias; Betsy and Harold Applebaum; Cindy and Gary Frischling; and The Norman and Sadie Lee Foundation. The continuing student matinee program would not be possible without the generous support of the Rosenthal Family Foundation; City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs; US Bank; Diana Buckhantz and Vladimir and Araxia Buckhantz Foundation; Renee and Meyer Luskin; Laura and James Rosenwald and Orinoco Foundation; Union Bank; The Walt Disney Company Foundation; Paramount Pictures; and the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation. For more information on the student matinee program, please visit CTGLA.org/StudentMatinee.

In addition to Maria Dizzia, the cast of “What the Constitution Means to Me” includes original Broadway cast members Rosdely Ciprian and Mike Iveson as well as local debater Jocelyn Shek (who alternates in the role with Ciprian). Gabriel Marin and Jessica Savage are understudies. The creative team features scenic design by Rachel Hauck (“Hadestown”), costume design by Michael Krass (“Hadestown”), lighting design by Jen Schriever (“Eclipsed”) and sound design by Sinan Refik Zafar (“Hamlet”). The production stage manager is Nicole Olson and the casting director is Taylor Williams.

Playwright Heidi Schreck’s boundary-breaking play breathes new life into our Constitution and imagines how it will shape the next generation of Americans. Fifteen-year-old Heidi earned her college tuition by winning Constitutional debate competitions across the United States. In this hilarious, hopeful and achingly human new play, she resurrects her teenage self in order to trace the profound relationship between four generations of women and the founding document that shaped their lives.

Schreck’s timely and galvanizing play became a sensation off-Broadway before transferring to Broadway where it received two Tony Award nominations among countless other accolades. The New York Times hailed “What the Constitution Means to Me” as “not just the best play to open on Broadway so far this season, but also the most important.”

Initially announced for a 12-week engagement on Broadway, “What the Constitution Means to Me” was extended twice and fully recouped in its Broadway engagement, shattering box office records at the Helen Hayes Theater (240 W 44th Street, New York, NY), for a total run of 24 weeks. “What the Constitution Means to Me” officially opened March 31, 2019 after beginning preview performances March 14, and played its final Broadway performance on August 24, 2019.

Immediately following the conclusion of the Broadway run, “What the Constitution Means to Me” played a record-breaking limited engagement run at the Eisenhower Theater at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., from September 11 through September 22, 2019.

“What the Constitution Means to Me” was commissioned by True Love Productions. This production originated as part of Summerworks 2017, produced by Clubbed Thumb in partnership with True Love Productions.

The national tour of “What the Constitution Means to Me” is produced by Diana DiMenna, Aaron Glick, Matt Ross, and Level Forward & Eva Price. Heidi Schreck is a playwright, screenwriter and performer living in Brooklyn. Her most recent play “What the Constitution Means to Me” was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist and won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American Play. Schreck also received two Tony Award nominations for “What the Constitution Means to Me” for Best Play and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play, the 2019 Smithsonian Magazine American Ingenuity Award, the Horton Foote Playwriting Award, the Hull-Warriner Award, and an OBIE. Heidi’s other plays include “Grand Concourse,” “Creature,” “Mr. Universe” and “There Are No More Big Secrets.” Her screenwriting credits include “I Love Dick,” “Billions” and “Nurse Jackie.” Schreck has taught playwriting and screenwriting at NYU, Columbia, Kenyon College and Primary Stages.

Center Theatre Group, one of the nation’s preeminent arts and cultural organizations, is Los Angeles’ leading nonprofit theatre company, which, under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Ritchie, Managing Director Meghan Pressman and Producing Director Douglas C. Baker, programs seasons at the 736-seat Mark Taper Forum and 1600 to 2100-seat Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles, and the 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. In addition to presenting and producing the broadest range of theatrical entertainment in the country, Center Theatre Group is one of the nation’s leading producers of ambitious new works through commissions and world premiere productions and a leader in interactive community engagement and education programs that reach across generations, demographics and circumstance to serve Los Angeles.

The Mark Taper Forum is located at The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A. 90012.

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February 28, 2020