Chautauqua History Comes Alive Festival - Nikola Tesla
Portrayed by Ian Ruskin
Nikola Tesla has been called many things: wizard, showman, prophet, charlatan, magician, and Father of the 20th Century – perhaps even of the 21st. He was a prophet dishonored in his own time, but revered in ours. Now he’s a rock star icon for billionaires, cyberpunks, and inventors who are still fiddling with everyday machines in their basements and garages. A car, a rock band, and a unit of magnetic measurement have been named after him.
Tesla sparked the electrical revolution that transformed daily life at the turn of the 20th century. This lone genius inventor is credited with inventing everything from radar to the microwave oven – including alternating current, the Tesla coil, and wireless transmission.
Called a madman by his enemies, a genius by others, and an enigma by nearly everyone, Nikola Tesla was a trailblazer who created astonishing, sometimes world-transforming devices that were virtually without theoretical precedent. He is now seen as a visionary who sparked the electrical revolution and wanted technology to be used for world peace.
Performer: Ian Ruskin
Ian Ruskin trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and then worked for the next 15 years in England in repertory companies, London’s West End, and in television and film. Highlights included working in the Laurence Olivier “King Lear” for Granada Television and playing Jack in “Jack the Ripper” at the Players Theatre, London.
He came to Los Angeles in 1985. A pattern developed of guest star roles, usually playing the intelligent bad guy, in shows such as “Murder She Wrote”, “Scarecrow and Mrs. King”, and “MacGyver.” While this work paid the rent, it did not in any way fulfill his dream as a student at RADA – to be involved in great plays that could not only move audiences but could shine a light on their shared humanity, not happening on “MacGyver.”
About Nikola Tesla:
Nikola Tesla has been called many things – Wizard, Showman, Prophet, Charlatan, Magician and Father of the 20th Century. Perhaps even of the 21st…
He created three-dimensional machines in his mind that would change the course of the world, had an eidetic memory, spoke nine languages and often worked for days on end with little sleep. He loved pigeons, but detested germs. He had dinner every night at Delmonico’s or the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, at exactly 8:10 PM, always served by the headwaiter and always with 18 napkins (the power of three – “If you only knew the magnificence of the 3, 6 and 9, then you would have the key to the universe”) on the table to polish the cutlery. He had to calculate the volume of each dish of food before he ate it. He usually dined alone. He also lived alone, in hotels, until he was repeatedly expelled for not paying his bills…and then on to the next one.