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Soapbox Square

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A public square or park where all sorts of people (possibly including the Soapbox Sadie) can be found Waving Signs Around and making impassioned speeches about various subjects; usually political, but sometimes rather more bizarre. Crowds will gather to variously cheer or jeer. Generally, the quality of the speeches made won't be very high, and will be on such topics as outlandish conspiracy theories, how things were better back in the old days and the verbal equivalent of the Strongly Worded Letter. In short, at a Soapbox Square you will see very few well spoken gentleman but a heaping helping of babbling loons.

May involve a Literal Soapbox Speech if an improvised platform is used.


Films — Live-Action

  • In Monty Python's Life of Brian, Brian hides out from the authorities in a plaza filled with speechifying mystics and prophets and starts spouting nonsense in order to blend in. Problem is the crowd thinks he's the First Coming.
  • The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit: Villanazul is introduced in a public square, trying in vain to capture people's attention so he can deliver a Rousing Speech to inspire them. He returns to the site when he gets his hour with the suit, where he's all ears and speaks of his vision for the people.


  • Blueberry Park in Daniel Pinkwater's story The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, where three speakers go on simultaneously about the virtues of vegetarianism, getting the British out of Kenya, and Demonic Possession. The protagonist then decides to make a speech himself and brave the hecklers.
  • In the Discworld novel Jingo, Sator Square is described as generally holding several ranters, haranguers, and self-absorbed mumblers at any given time, all of which declaim at the top of their voices. The crowds generally cheer them no matter what they're actually saying, to egg them on. However, on this particular occasion, Commander Vimes notices with some disquiet that this time they're not: They're actually paying attention, and nodding thoughtfully in agreement, while someone agitates for an all-out war with a neighbouring country. Fortunately, he deescalates the situation by repeatedly snarking at the speaker's claims until he realizes who's heckling him.
  • In John Brunner's novel The Squares of the City, the government of the fictional Latin American country of Aguazul allows the Plaza del Sur in the country's planned capital city of Ciudad de Vados to serve as a forum for public speakers, both those who favor the government and those who favor the opposition (more as a safety valve than out of any actual belief in free speech). This is explicitly compared to Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park, London, by a character in the book.

Live-Action TV

  • The Expanse: In "Dulcinea", the Epic Tracking Establishing Shot for Ceres station features a voice-over on the plight of the Belt that's eventually revealed to be an OPA agitator speaking in a marketplace in the slum at the very bottom of the colony.


  • In Let 'Em Eat Cake, the sequel to Of Thee I Sing, Union Square in Manhattan plays host to a surprisingly well-mannered group of protesters, whose messages include "Schultz's Restaurant Is Unfair to Union Labor," "Union Labor Is Unfair to Schultz's Restaurant" and one addressing the workers of China in Yiddish. They are perturbed when the agitator Kruger energetically takes the stand with his anti-everything platform. Mary also happens to be selling her blue shirts there, and this is how they become the uniform of the revolution.

Tabletop Games

  • Planescape: Sigil, the main city of this Dungeons & Dragons setting, has The Hall of Speakers. Anyone may come, check-in, and speak whatever they want when the podium isn't occupied by usual factions' bickering or (very rarely) some sane attempt at law-making. Just don't be surprised if a boring speech summons a rain of rotten tomatoes from the Abyss.

Video Games

  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: The "Knights of the Nine" expansion adds a mysterious Prophet who spends his days in the gardens of Anvil, preaching about the incipient return of Umaril the Unfeathered to everyone who will listen.
  • Fable: The Heroes' Guild has a stone Boasting Platform in the green outside the front door for amateur speechifying. A few characters make plot-significant announcements there, and if the Hero accepts a Challenge Run on a quest, a Cutscene Drop puts him on the Platform, bragging to a crowd.
  • Mass Effect:
    • In Mass Effect 2, in the Emporium on Omega there is a Batarian religious fanatic going on long rants about the evils of humanity. The humorous part is that his entire audience is a group of curious humans.
      Mad Prophet: You, sir! You are a blight!
    • In Mass Effect 3 and its Omega DLC, he's still there, even when half the station's on fire... but he's got a bigger audience. Which is still majority human.

Western Animation

  • In The Simpsons, a lot of big speeches seem to be made in the park near the statue of Jebediah Springfield.
  • One pops up in South Park when the economy crashes. Named characters who speak there include Eric Cartman, Randy Marsh, and Kyle Broflovski.

Real Life

  • Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park, London; also known as The Geopolitical Centre of the Planet.
  • In ancient Rome, speakers could do this at the Forum.
  • Some universities have a special area near the quad where campus speech codes are not enforced. Naturally, this brings the weirdos out of the woodwork.
  • Washington Square Park in Chicago was nicknamed "Bughouse Square" in the 1890's through the 60's, where it was home to soapbox debates. Socialists and union organizers were particularly common. The tradition petered out, but soapbox debates are held at an annual commemorative event today.