The Messiah Festival of the Arts kicks off with the Bethany Theatre Department production of “Nathan the Wise” by Paul D’Andrea, April 11 at 7 p.m. and April 12 at 2 p.m. in the rebuilt J.O. Sundstrom Conference Center in downtown Lindsborg.
Directed by Carl Isaacson, D’Andrea’s work is a loose adaptation of the famous German poetic drama by Gotthold Ephriam Lessing. Lessing’s work has been hailed as a masterpiece of poetry. D’Andrea’s adaptation is prose and only loosely uses Lessing’s work.
At the heart of the story is thelegend of the rings. A father has a ring of authority. This ring conveys to the holder both power over the masses and the love of the masses. The father received the ring from his father and was prepared to pass it on to his son – but he had three sons and loved them each alike. To which should he give the ring and the power and the authority that went with it? Distressed by being forced to make a choice among his three sons, the father had two additional rings made, each indistinguishable from the original. Each son is given a ring, and each son is told that his ring is the true ring. The father passes, and the three sons each assert authority.
Which is the real ring? Which is the true religion? Who will judge between the sons and who will adjudicate the issue of the true religion? This is the question that “Nathan the Wise” seeks to pose to his Christian and Muslim accusers in hopes that the obvious conundrum will make them spare his life and cause them to abandon the certainty that both Saladin (the Islamic sultan) and Heraklios (the Christian patriarch) admit is deadly.
A “talk-back” session is planned immediately following the Friday night performance, with an invited guest panel to facilitate the discussion over the themes of this theatre event. Tickets to “Nathan the Wise” are $8 general admission, and $5 for all students, senior 65+ and Bethany College staff, and will be sold at-the-door. This production is a joint-venture with the Lindsborg’s Broadway RFD, and sponsored by the Tad Doering family.
Featured in the production are, Jedidiah Duarte as Nathan; Professor Greg LeGault as Saladin; Alyson Krohn as his sister Sittah; Michah Hirschler as Nathan’s daughter, Recha; Adisu Ege as Curd, the Templar; Mike Mertz as the sultan’s treasurer, Al-Hafi; Katia Matter as the nurse Daya; Charles Poland as Friar Bonfilio; Rev. Charles Christensen as Patriarch Heraklios. Stage management and costumes are by Jenna Sickenius.