“Nathan the Wise” Is a 200-Year-Old Lesson in Religious Tolerance Set in Jerusalem

he "Nathan the Wise" cast includes (from left) Joseph Henderson, Jason Peck, and Lucas Campbell (photo by Jonathan Young)
he "Nathan the Wise" cast includes (from left) Joseph Henderson, Jason Peck, and Lucas Campbell (photo by Jonathan Young)

he "Nathan the Wise" cast includes (from left) Joseph Henderson,  Jason Peck, and Lucas Campbell (photo by Jonathan Young)
The "Nathan the Wise" cast includes (from left) Joseph Henderson, Jason Peck, and Lucas Campbell (photo by Jonathan Young)

Deep Dish Theater Company will present Nathan the Wise, British dramatist Edward Kemp’s 2003 version of German playwright Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s 1779 drama Nathan der Weise, on Oct. 28-30 and Nov. 2-6, 9-13, and 16-19 in its performance space between The Print Shop and the future home of the Public Library at the Dillard’s end of University Mall in Chapel Hill, NC. Tony Lea will direct the show.

According to Deep Dish Theater Company:

“A 200-year-old lesson in religious tolerance, Nathan the Wise is an intricate 18th century story set in Jerusalem during the Crusades. As religious conflict wages, the lives of a Jewish merchant, a young Templar and a Sultan become entwined in tale of familial coincidence. While religion may divide them, they discover a common goal of peace and reconciliation.

“‘The play is a parable, but one told in very human terms,’ said [director Tony] Lea. ‘Nathan is able to forge friendships with people who some would consider enemies. To me, this is enough to make any story relevant, but Nathan the Wise also tells this story with love, humor, and compassion, making it entertaining as well as relevant.’

“This Deep Dish production boasts a talented cast, including: Lucas Campbell, Joseph Henderson, Sherida McMullan, Michael Murray, Paul Paliyenko, Jason Peck, Page Purgar, Rajeev Rajendran, and Alice Turner. The design staff includes Miyuki Su (set), Doug Wood (lights), Jordan Jaked (costumes), Devra Thomas (properties), and Marc Maximov (sound). John [Rogers] Harris is the dramaturg, and Ramona Traynor is the stage manager.

“[Dramaturg John Harris] will give a pre-show ‘Meet the Play’ talk on Thursday, Nov. 4th, at 7 p.m.

“Post-performance discussions will be offered on Thursdays and Sundays. [They include:]

Sunday afternoon, Nov. 6th: A panel discussion on ‘Contemporary Parallels in Our World and Community,’ with Jerry Mikell of the Islamic Center of Raleigh, the Rev. Rollin Russell of the Christian Unity Conference, and Rabbi Leah Berkowitz of the Judea Reform Congregation.

Thursday evening, Nov. 10th: A panel discussion on ‘Religious Pluralism on Campus,’ with UNC Students Josh Orol, Sakire Dogan, Olivia Hyatt, and Religious Studies Professor Carl Ernst.

Sunday afternoon, Nov. 13th: Dr. Jonathan Hess, the Moses M. and Hannah L. Malkin Distinguished Term Professor of Jewish History and Culture at UNC, on the history of the play and its context.

Thursday evening, Nov. 17th: ‘Meet the Designers’ –a talk with the production team….

“The Deep Dish Book Selection, Bruce Feiler’s Where God Was Born [http://brucefeiler.com/books/where-god-was-born/], will be discussed on Monday, Nov. 14th, at 7 p.m. at Flyleaf Books [http://www.flyleafbooks.com/]….

“The Deep Dish Theater Company is committed to presenting compelling, human-centered dramatic work that contributes to the cultural richness of the Triangle area and challenges audiences to explore concerns of the community and the world-at-large.”

Deep Dish Theater Company presents NATHAN THE WISE at 8 p.m. Oct. 28 and 29, 2 p.m. Oct. 30, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2 and 3, 8 p.m. Nov. 4 and 5, 2 p.m. Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9 and 10, 8 p.m. Nov. 11 and 12, 2 p.m. Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 and 17, and 8 p.m. Nov. 18 and 19 in its performance space between The Print Shop and the future home of the Public Library at the Dillard’s end of University Mall, at the intersection of Estes Dr. and U.S. 15-501, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514.

TICKETS: $21 ($14 students and $19 seniors), with a $2 discount for Wednesday and Thursday shows and $10 “Cheap Dish Night” on Nov. 2nd.

BOX OFFICE: 919/968-1515 or http://www.etix.com/.

SHOW: http://www.deepdishtheater.org/productions?p=50.

SEASON: http://www.deepdishtheater.org/productions.

PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.deepdishtheater.org/.

DIRECTIONS/PARKING: http://www.deepdishtheater.org/location.


The Play: http://www.edwardkemp.co.uk/page8.htm (official web page) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathan_the_wise (Wikipedia).

The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).

The Playwright: http://www.edwardkemp.co.uk/ (official website).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.

By Robert W. McDowell

Robert W. McDowell is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer, editor, and critic. He has written theater, film, book, and music previews and reviews for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, and Classical Voice of North Carolina, all based in Raleigh. In 1980-91, he covered business, industry, government, and education for (We the People of) North Carolina magazine, published monthly by N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. In April 2001, McDowell started Robert's Reviews, a FREE weekly e-mail newsletter that provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the performing arts in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Triangle Review is the latest-and-greatest version of McDowell's original newsletter. (To start your FREE subscription, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) From December 1980 until September 2017, McDowell served on the board of directors of The Cinema, Inc., a Raleigh-based nonprofit film society formed in 1966. He currently publishes a weekly list of FREE advance screenings of movies in the Triangle area. (To have your e-mail address added to this FREE list, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.) McDowell also co-edited and supervised the production of Jim Valvano's Guide to Great Eating (JTV Enterprises, 1984), a 224-page sports celebrity cookbook; and he served as a fact checker for Valvano: They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead (Pocket Books, 1991).