Hope College Theatre will present "Nathan the Wise" by German playwright and philosopher Gotthold Ephraim Lessing on Wednesday-Saturday, April 26-29, in the DeWitt Center main theatre.
The performance on Thursday, April 27, will start
at 9 p.m. The other three performances will be at 8 p.m.
Set in 12th-century Jerusalem during the period of
the Crusades, the play portrays a utopian dream world of
sorts where Christian, Jew and Muslim meet and confront
certain conflicts. The resolution of the conflicts is at
the heart of the play.
As a portrait of idealized humanity and religious
tolerance, the play has occasionally been banned, including
under the National Socialists in Germany. When Lessing
wrote the play in 1779, he himself had recently been
officially forbidden from further publishing the theological
pamphlets that had been stirring up religious controversy.
Lessing then turned the decreed silencing into the "dramatic
poem," as he subtitled it, "Nathan the Wise."
Playing the title role will be guest artist
Michael Page, well-known in West Michigan as both an actor
and director. Page has a long list of credits with Grand
Rapids theatres, Boars Head Theatre in Lansing and
Peterborough Players in Vermont. He has worked as a guest
artist with the Hope theatre program on two previous
occasions, and has spent several seasons with Hope Summer
Repertory Theatre. Last year he was a visiting professor of
theatre at Hope, when he directed "The Winter's Tale," and
earlier this year he appeared in "Translations" as a guest
artist at Calvin College.
"Nathan the Wise" is being directed by Daina
Robins, associate professor of theatre at Hope and chair of
the department. She notes that she is pleased that Page is
part of the production team.
"I can't imagine tackling this difficult play
without Michael as Nathan at its core," she said. "His
presence models professional discipline, creativity and
commitment to our students, and he is a wonderful acting
partner/teacher/collaborator for them all."
The rest of the cast consists of student actors:
junior Michelle Rynbrandt of Clio as Rachel; junior David
Romero of Grand Rapids as Saladin; senior Christopher
Mahlmann of Tiffin, Ohio, as the Patriarch; sophomore Blaine
M. Cook of Niles as Siitah; sophomore Joshua M. Carstens of
Libertyville, Ill., as the Friar; senior Kara Lee Burk of
Rochester Hills as Daja; freshman Peter Beck of Manila, the
Philippines, as the Templar; and sophomore Patrick Glaub of
Plymouth, Ind., as Al-Hafi.
Scenic and properties design is by senior Katie
Drop, a theatre major from Iowa City, Iowa. She is working
under the tutelage of resident scenic designer Richard
Smith, who is also serving as props master. Associate
professors Michelle Bombe and Perry Landes are in charge of
costume/make-up and lighting/sound design respectively.
Tickets are $7 for regular adult admission, and $4
for senior citizens and students, and are on sale at the
theatre lobby ticket office, which is open Monday through
Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday from noon
until 5 p.m., and until curtain time on the four performance
The ticket office can be called at (616) 395-7890.
The DeWitt Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 12th