Tom Paine’s Bones @ Chapel Theater | Bringing to Life The Founder of America Who Put His Life on The Line for Equal Rights

From our sponsors:
Tom Paine’s Bones
February 18-20, 2023
Saturday 7PM
Sunday & Monday 3PM
Student $5 | GA $20
More info:

Chapel Theater
4107 Southeast Harrison Street Milwaukie, OR 97222

What can a middle-aged nobody do to totally change the course of history? Write. Write the first bestseller in English. Write lines so inspiring that readers found new nations.

Common Sense by Thomas Paine persuaded colonial Americans to rebel against the mighty British Empire. Paine edited The Declaration of Independence and named the new nation, “The United States of America”. He donated his royalties to the revolution. His articles, American Crisis, kept colonists battling when the army was in constant defeat and retreat. Founding Father John Adams said if not for the pen of Paine, the sword of Washington would’ve been raised in vain.

Portland’s new play, Tom Paine’s Bones, clarifies the career of our most misunderstood founder. Paine is oft quoted by people all across the political spectrum. Congressional Democrats bestow the Thomas Paine Award for clear and inspiring political prose, while radio host Glen Beck does a show on this original hero.

Growing up in feudal England, Paine experienced injustice. In his late teens, he became a legal pirate (privateer), revealing a lifelong taste for adventure. Endowed with a keen intellect like his friend Benjamin Franklin, Paine invented useful things, notably a lightweight bridge.

It was his books—Rights of Man and Age of Reason and Agrarian Justice—selling in the millions that made Paine the first person from the working class to become a world celebrity, invited into the homes of the most famous people of his era—lords, scientists, artists, etc. Adams referred to the years of Paine’s career as “The Age of Paine”.

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”

If Americans today could use a jolt of idealism, it could come from the pen of Paine. He wrote the first law in the US outlawing slavery. However, “no good deed goes unpunished.”

Speaking truth to power, Paine put his lofty principles and other people’s wellbeing first, even risking his life, facing death more than seven times. Despite Paine having prominent friends—Franklin, Jefferson, a Belgian baroness—the ruling elites of three nations sought Paine’s demise.

Tom Paine’s Bones, by Jeffery J Smith, a lifelong political activist, is a cleverly written monologue rich in detail and humor. Marty Beaudet, the regional actor on both stage and screen, performs this complex historical character. To nail down Paine’s accent, Beaudet gleaned hints from the historical record and contemporary descriptions in dictionaries. The production uses props of the day to make it period-perfect.

Paine’s personal history sheds much-needed light on the political climate of his day as well as ours. Paine’s life was dramatic and controversial enough to become a movie. To enjoy an exciting night at the theater, performances are at Milwaukie’s Chapel Theater, President’s Day weekend, Saturday, February 18th, 7 pm, Sunday the 19 and Monday the 20th at 3 pm. Tickets are available at Eventbrite.




  1. LMJ on February 8, 2023 at 1:23 pm

    This looks awesome. History in an entertaining and learning way.
    Can’t wait!

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