Nowadays celebrating freedom can seem trite since so many people are taking other people’s away. On this 4th of July in America, there are children in cages at the southern border, a war with Iran is brewing, our veterans are homeless, and families dread Thanksgiving because of who they voted for. Still, our default setting as humans is freedom and personal freedom is always worth celebrating.
This is why I love the theater so much– because no matter what is happening in the world, onstage we cheer on the valiant person who is moving closer to their personal legend. So, this Independence Day, I have decided to compile a list of my favorite theater quotes about freedom. After you read this, set your ego aside and have a burger and brews with your problematic uncle and tell him that you know his heart is better than his behavior.
“Just like my country, I’m young, scrappy, and hungry and I’m not throwing away my shot!” – Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
“You born free. It’s up to you to maintain it. You born with dignity and everything else. These niggers talking about freedom, but what you gonna do with it? Freedom is heavy. You got to put your shoulder to freedom. Put your shoulder to it and hope your back hold up.” – August Wilson, Two Trains Running
“Always, you are free.” – Stephen Aldy Guirgis, Between Riverside & Crazy
“What do you do when your dreams come true?
I’ve spent my life inheriting dreams from you
What do I do with this winning ticket?
What can I do but pray?” – Quiara Alegria Hudes, In The Heights
“Then isn’t there something wrong in a house – in a world – where all dreams, good or bad, must depend on the death of a man?” – Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun
“Yes the wheels are turning for us girl
And the times are starting to roll
Any man can get where he wants to
As long as he’s got some fire in his soul” – Terrence McNally, Ragtime“
“Ordinary people often confuse courage for insanity.” -Pearl Cleage, Pointing at the Moon
“You can’t stop the river as it rushes to the sea
You can try to stop the hands of time, but you know it just can’t be!
And if they try to stop us, Seaweed, I’ve got the N double A.C.P.
‘Cause the world keeps spinnin’ round and round
And my heart’s keepin’ time to the speed of sound
I was lost ’til I heard the drums, then I found my way
‘Cause you can’t stop the beat!” – Marc Shaiman and Scott Michael Wittman, Hairspray