Declaring Independence: Then & Now
What does the Declaration of Independence mean today and what did it mean to citizens throughout the Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area when it was conceived and debated during their lifetime? The thought provoking public performance piece, Declaring Independence: Then & Now, seeks to answer this question by integrating a reading of the Declaration of Independence with first person accounts presented by costumed living-history performers. As the 18th century words and ideas are performed, the narrator explores their meaning to challenge the audience to consider their relevance and power for today.
During 2017 Declaring Independence: Then & Now was successfully performed in six historic venues and attended by audiences of more than 8,000 people. Click here to see the details of the 2017 program. In 2018, we are pleased to offer the program again.
To assist program partners in staging the performance the Freedom’s Way Heritage Association provides an annotated script, publicity materials, assistance in finding performers, a video of one of last year’s performances, directions/assistance on staging and background materials. Partner organizations provide the venue, community outreach and publicity and if required, a small stipend to reimburse the performers.
Interest in our nation’s founding principles and civic engagement is high and Declaring Independence: Then & Now provides an engaging forum in which to explore both. Audiences are inspired and challenged by hearing the Declaration of Independence anew providing an opportunity for reflection about the words mean in contemporary society.
If you are interested in staging a performance of Declaring Independence: Then & Now please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-772-3654
A reading of the Declaration of Independence enlivened by costumed living-history performers who share the perspectives (drawn from first-hand accounts) of citizens who lived in the communities the program is performed within.
A narrator and five or six costumed living-history performers.
To explore the meaning and challenge of the Declaration of Independence as it was written and affirmed as well as its relevance to contemporary society.
The program is offered free of charge.
The Declaration of Independence is both a beloved statement of our nation’s embrace of liberty and equality and a living document, whose values continue to shape our lives today. In the spring of 1776, the Massachusetts' assembly sought to know the hearts and minds of the people. They charged each community with debating and resolving a critical question: Should the colonies declare independence from Great Britain? Declaring Independence - Then & Now engages Freedom's Way communities in uncovering the evidence of response to this challenge, through town debates, resolves, and local declarations of rights and liberties. Their deep commitment to the public act of declaring liberty and equality continues to shape our local and national conversation begging the question - What does this mean today?
The authors of the Declaration spoke what many Americans by 1776 had come to believe: that Britain’s king, Parliament, and people had violated our fundamental rights, that we were justified in abolishing such a flawed government, and that we were entitled – and determined – to create a new and better nation.
In this sense, the Declaration is a document fixed in time: it declared the end of one government and the beginning of a new one. Yet it also asserted truths that transcend time: that governments secure their power from the people, with the purpose of securing their liberty and guaranteeing their equality. The history of our nation has been, and continues to be, the story of our struggle to redeem those promises for all.
Performances will be followed by a moderated discussion of questions raised and challenges posed by this living document and will occur in both major public history sites and community venues to maximize exposure to diverse audiences. Each will explore how The Declaration of Independence came to be, how we can find its roots in communities within the heritage area, what it meant to the founding generation, and how it continued to inform the generations that followed – including our own.