Ian Ruskin GhostsIan Ruskin The ManIan Ruskin King Lear

Following my training I worked in English repertory theatre, in London, and in film and television, including the Laurence Olivier version of “King Lear” for Granada Television and the title role in “Jack the Ripper” in London’s West End. Work in Los Angeles included the acclaimed one-man play “The Man Himself” and voice work in over 100 films and television shows.

In 1994 I was cast as Harry Bridges in Strike Story: the Harry Bridges Story, written by Rob Sullivan and produced by Susan Franklin Tanner for TheatreWorkers Project, and this inspired me to found The Harry Bridges Project in 2000. Since then, I have produced, written, and narrated two radio documentaries – From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks and From Piers to Plantations, a Union in Hawai’i – distributed by PRI. From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks is also the name of the one-man play that I wrote and premiered at the University of Washington Summer Arts Festival in 2001 and have since performed over 200 times, particularly to unions and educators. I have written two more one-man plays and produced three documentary films – about mechanization on the waterfront, the life and work of Arbitrator Sam Kagel, and the ILWU Local 10 Drill Team. The film version of From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks, which I produced along with Suzanne Thompson, was directed and shot by multi-Academy Award winner Haskell Wexler. It has aired nationwide on PBS for the past three years, making it available to 150 million Americans. 

I produced the CD soundtrack Step by Step, and I have just completed an educational package of 12 Lesson Plans for high schools. In 2010 I received a COLA Fellowship to write To Begin the World Over Again: the Life of Thomas Paine, which I am now performing across America. 

I am also currently working on a treatment for a feature film based on the 1934 San Francisco General Strike.

Ongoing Projects

Harry Bridges Ian Ruskin as Harry Bridge
Harry Bridges was a skinny Australian sailor who arrived in San Francisco in 1919 and by 1934 had led the way to forming one of America’s most radical and democratic unions, the ILWU. He was its President for 40 tumultuous years, including 21 years of trials accused of being a communist, three wives and the controversial arrival of mechanization on the waterfront. He ended his career as an elder statesman of San Francisco but with the same biting humor and unique view of the world that he had when he arrived as an 18-year-old kid. Along the way he fought for an end to prejudice, discrimination and war, and for social security, workers rights, and a national health system! He was friends with Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles and on the cover of Time Magazine, but always considered himself a working stiff. 

"I had a bunch of guys down below that I represented, and if I made a mistake- and I made plenty - and led with my chin - they'd throw me back in the ring again and say " Get back in there, you stupid fool, and next time- duck."
-Harry Bridges

Ian Ruskin Thomas Paine 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.

“My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”
-Thomas Paine




Ian Ruskin Barbara Dane

A Wild Woman Sings the Blues, a radio documentary about the life of singer and activist Barbara Dane, is a 2 CD set covering Barbara's amazing life and 6 decades of radical American history. Available at

My New Project

Ian Ruskin Telsa

I have begun work on a new one-man play about inventor, electrical engineer, scientist and visionary genius Nikola Tesla, “the man who invented the 20th century”. I am looking for sources of funding to make this a spectacular event about one of the world's greatest geniuses!


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This website is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through Los Angeles County Arts Commission