Hope College Theatre will present “The Christians” as its first production of the academic year on Friday-Saturday, Oct. 9-10, and Wednesday-Saturday, Oct. 14-17, at 7:30 p.m. in the DeWitt Center main theatre.

A drama by Lucas Hnath, “The Christians” explores the ways questions of faith and belief can divide or unite a community.  Director Richard Perez, who is an assistant professor of theatre and managing director of the Hope Summer Repertory Theatre, describes it as “a play that people of all faiths, as well as non-believers, can engage with on a meaningful level.”

The play made its New York premiere at Playwrights Horizons in New York City in August. The production at Hope will be its collegiate premiere.

“The Christians” tells the story of one controversial sermon’s foundation-shaking impact on a church community as a Midwestern mega-church pastor, Paul, unintentionally turns the members of his congregation against one another, forcing them each to re-examine their individual ideas and beliefs.

The play deals with personal, professional, and spiritual conflicts among church leaders and attendees alike, but, according to Perez, “it is about so much more than just a schism within a church or questions about the afterlife. The story is widely applicable to audience members of varying religious backgrounds, and asks us, ‘How do we know what we believe or who we are?’ or ‘What can we expect from others if we change our mind?’” Perez elaborates, “It is a play that asks these questions with no easy or pat answers.”

The production team for “The Christians” includes faculty members Richard Smith as scenic and properties designer, Michelle Bombe as costume designer, Perry Landes as lighting and sound designer, and Brad Richmond as choral director. Senior Sarah Merrill of Zeeland is the projection designer.  The stage manager for the production is junior Aaron McEachran of Golden, Colorado, and the assistant stage manager is sophomore Elizabeth Schonfeld of Oxford.

The cast includes freshman Jose Angulo of San Francisco, California; sophomore Kierney Johnson of Edmonds, Washington; junior Jake Mate of Jenison; freshman Felippe Santos-Souto of Kalamazoo; and sophomore Akia Smith of Grand Rapids.

Tickets are $10 for regular admission, $7 for senior citizens, Hope faculty and staff, and free for Hope College and high school students with ID, and are available at the Events and Conferences Office located downtown in the Anderson-Werkman Financial Center (100 E. Eighth St.).  The office is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be called at (616) 395-7890.  Patrons may purchase tickets in person, online at hope.edu/tickets, or by calling the ticket office.

The DeWitt Center is located at 141 E. 12th St., facing Columbia Avenue between 10th and 13th streets.