J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, September 30, 2017

“Life of Thomas Paine” at Faneuil Hall, 7 Oct.

On Saturday, 7 October, Ian Ruskin will perform his one-person play To Begin the World Over Again: The Life of Thomas Paine in Faneuil Hall.

Ruskin wrote this play with advice from “a distinguished group of Paine scholars,” he says. This will be its Boston debut. Ruskin has performed it in various venues around the world, including most recently in Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater in New York. A filmed version aired on P.B.S. on Independence Day weekend.

Ruskin’s description for his play says:
No other Founding Father was anywhere close to Thomas Paine in his vision of democracy. Paine’s book Common Sense sold hundreds of thousands of copies and everybody read it or had it read to them. It was the spark that ignited the American Revolution and remains in print today over 200 years later. He helped shape our national character and inspires us to be better guardians of that legacy.

Paine based his beliefs on one simple yet powerful idea, “justice for all.” This call resounds in America now, echoing the words of Martin Luther King [actually Theodore Parker]: “the moral arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Today’s political environment, while never specifically mentioned in the play, reminds us to revisit Paine’s words with his calls for the end of slavery and voter suppression, and for a government that cares for its citizens and provides equality for women. In this time of division and despair, we need, more than ever, to hear Paine’s words.
Tickets cost $10-15 and are available through this site. The show is scheduled to run from 7:30 to 9:00 P.M. on 7 October.

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