Ian Ruskin is a producer, writer, actor, and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He has starred in theatre, television, and film in both the UK and the US. He has written and performed in various one-man plays, From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks which details the life of Australian-born American union leader, Harry Bridges and To Begin the World Over Again: The Life of Thomas Paine. To learn more about or contact Ian, visit: www.ianruskin.org. To learn more about Ruskin’s one-man show, visit: thelifeofthomaspaine.org
In this week’s interview, Jim Underdown and Ruskin discuss the life of Thomas Paine, his influence on politics, religion, and what Ian learned about Paine in his work preparing for The Life of Thomas Paine.
In 1775, a man who had lived 37 remarkably unremarkable years in England arrived in Philadelphia. He then proceeded to change the world. His pen ignited the American Revolution, defined the French Revolution and articulated the concept of Reason. For this he was nearly hanged in England, nearly guillotined in France and, by the end of his life, more hated than loved in America. He was one of the world’s greatest propagandists and worst politicians, a nearly fatal combination, and he is one of the most misunderstood men in American history. Yet his vision of true justice and equality for all human beings continues to inspire millions of people and his ideas, revolutionary in 1776, continue to be as revolutionary today.