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Film & Theatre

To Begin the World Over Again: the Life of Thomas Paine

Sat 3 May 2014, 19.00

“The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion”

- Thomas Paine

Was he “one of the most brilliant minds in human history” or merely a “filthy little atheist”? He was certainly one of the most misunderstood men in American history. 

Thomas Paine is a man largely forgotten and greatly misunderstood yet his ideas about democracy, equality, slavery, social programs and morality were truly revolutionary. He changed the world, only to have the world he changed turn its back on him. He ignited revolutions but died largely ignored and disdained, yet when he was writing he was at the epicentre of world events and literally transforming nations through his words.

The one-man show “To Begin the World Over Again: the Life of Thomas Paine” , leaps from the stage and captures the living essence of America's brilliant, fiery and most radical Founding Father. It brings to life the wit, contradictions and contrariness of a man whose intellect and words shaped the American national character, inspiring Americans always to be their better selves.

His pen sparked the American Revolution,
defined the French Revolution and championed the Age of Reason. He went from hero on the streets of Philadelphia to prisoner in Paris awaiting the guillotine. His books were the biggest best sellers in history and at his funeral… there were six mourners. 

Today there is the Occupy movement, back then there was Thomas Paine.

Tickets Advance: £10 (plus booking fee), Concs. £5

Admission £15/£7 on the door. Free to Ethical Society Members.

Doors 18.30. Start 19.00

Ian Ruskin (writer/actor) trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and currently lives in Los Angeles, CA. He has performed his other one man play From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks about labour leader Harry Bridges well over 200 times. The film version, directed by Haskell Wexler, has aired in America on PBS for the past 4 years. This is the London première of To Begin the World Over Again: the Life of Thomas Paine which has been performed just over 30 times in the past two years.

“Ruskin’s Paine provides more than a mere history lesson; it’s a sort of performance art. Not only do we learn of a largely untold slice of the American story, we also get to see an actor in top form. So nuanced and layered is Ruskin’s performance, and so enlightening is his script, it’s as if Paine has been brought to back life just to speak to us”.

Ben Miles, showmag.com, Los Angeles

“Ian Ruskin’s performance had a profound impact on our students…who are all in their own right struggling to realize their own value and contributions to this world, and the lessons learned as a result of experiencing this brilliant performance are many…for weeks following they commented on such things as: wanting to read more about the extraordinary life of Thomas Paine; wanting to read a particular work mentioned in the play…It is our upmost pleasure to give the highest praise and to recommend this play without reservation”.                                   

Julie Davis, Professor, History and Women’s Studies, Cerritos College

“It is a spectacular way to introduce people to the historical struggles and the ideas of the most important revolutionary thinker of the late eighteenth century. You bring Paine alive and create throughout the play excitement for history and the world of ideas, and deliver important lessons for our own time…to the possibility that democracy can attain great things, and that we have visionaries who can get us back on that virtuous forward path.”         

Elaine Bernard, Executive Director, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School


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