Pierce Performance Series

The Pierce Performance Series seeks to raise the visibility of the Boston Public Library's Special Collections through free public performances. Thanks to the generosity of the Harold Whitworth Pierce Charitable Trust our past performances have commemorated the hundredth anniversary of the Peace Jubilee, explored abolitionists' vital messages, celebrated women's suffrage, and examined the life of Thomas Paine. Stay tuned for what's next!


REVISITING the life & influence of one of America's first rebels

The Associates of the Boston Public Library's held its fourth Pierce Performance, To Begin the World Over Again:  The Life of Thomas Paine, in person and virtually in November 2022. This one-man show, written and performed by Ian Ruskin, featured excerpts of Paine’s incendiary writings that sparked the American and French Revolutions.

Thomas Paine was one of the world’s greatest writers, but worst politicians. With strokes of his pen, Paine inspired the American Revolution, defined the French Revolution, and championed reason as the basis for our beliefs and morality. His ideas about democracy, equality, slavery, pensions, healthcare, education, and morality would have created a very different kind of world if they had been acted on. He also fought passionately against the institution of monarchy. Paine, who ignited revolutions, would die largely ignored and disdained, yet when writing his books and pamphlets he was at the epicenter of world events, literally transforming nations through the power of his words.

Pierce Performance 2022
The Associates of the Boston Public Library is proud to present this free production of To Begin the World Over Again: The Life of Thomas Paine. Through his portrayal of this pivotal patriot, Ian Ruskin will provide audiences with an intimate insight into Paine’s life and his important role in bringing about revolutionary changes in the world. The play’s period costuming and props, the soundtrack of original music by Joe Romano, and the sound effects by Keith Robinson will add immediacy and intimacy to Ruskin's powerful performance. The film version of this production, directed by legendary filmmaker Haskell Wexler, aired on PBS for several years.

Five Star" Images – Browse 2,253 Stock Photos, Vectors, and Video | Adobe Stock “It’s performance art... nuanced and layered, enlightening... it’s as if Paine has been brought back to life just to speak to us.”

Showmag, Los Angeles


Past Pierce Performances