From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks
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About the Play
"Something special happened in 1933 and 1934. We took history into our own hands, and it felt good."

- Harry Bridges-

Harry Bridges

Harry Bridges…a hero or the devil incarnate? It all depended on your point of view.
He was certainly radical. He was fighting for workers rights, equality, justice for all and a national health care system 75 years ago! And the issues in his life – the growing gap between rich and poor, government surveillance, immigration, globalization, communism and terrorism, prejudice and discrimination – they certainly haven’t gone away. If anyone stood up for the 99%, it was Harry Bridges.

This multi-media production is a rousing portrayal of legendary labor leader Harry Bridges’ passion, struggles and wicked sense of humor, with 40 + sound and visual cues. It takes you on an amazing journey through a Great Depression, a stunning General Strike, the rise of the American labor movement and McCarthyism, and the longest attempt in history to deport an individual. It also takes you through three wives, two bitter divorces and a couple of years of a lot of Jack Daniels. A live performance was filmed by Hollywood legend Haskell Wexler and has aired on PBS for the last three years.

This play is edgy, entertaining and educational, and there is the possibility of course credits for students of American history, political science, sociology, anthropology, drama and writing. Workshops on writing and performing monologues are also available, led by Ian Ruskin.

“There will always be a place for us somewhere, somehow, as long as we see to it that working people fight for everything they have, everything they hope to get, for dignity, equality, democracy, to oppose war and to bring to the world a better life.”
                                                        - Harry Bridges

Reviews and Reactions:

“Unmistakable topicality and human interest infuses From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks…it is undeniably apropos for the corporatist-beleaguered present. Certainly Ruskin, whose versatility, innate affability and easy delivery lands directly between middle-period Geoffrey Rush and the late Roger Livesey, conveys the truth as he sees it, holding focus…maintaining intrigue…"
David C. Nichols, Los Angeles Times

“Ruskin, a stellar storyteller, revivifies Bridges in both appearance and sentiment. Ruskin’s script is wonderfully didactic and his presence is compelling. Not only do we see this master stage craftsman in a sterling performance, we also are informed of an important and rarely broached part of America’s sordid labor history. For anyone who works for a living, or is dependent on workers to live (and that’s all of us), From Wharf Rats to Lord of the Docks is a must-see show”.
Ben Miles,, Los Angeles

“Harry Bridges is one of the most important labor leaders of the 20th century, and Ian Ruskin, in his one-man show, has captured him -- his persona, his ideas -- brilliantly. There were times when I forgot this was someone other than Harry Bridges speaking. It’s a valuable piece of working-class history, presented colorfully and intelligently”.

Howard Zinn, Historian, Playwright and Social Activist

Prologue About the Play Cast and Crew Book a Performance
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The Harry Bridges Project  |  P.O. Box 662018  |  Los Angeles, CA 90066  |