Carnegie Mellon Today

Carnegie Mellon Today

Carnegie Mellon News Services Home Page

Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama Stages "Nathan the Wise"

18th Century Play Celebrates Humanity in Time of Conflict

Andrew Kober, Raffi Barsoumian and Ryan Bechard star in the School of Drama's latest production, "Nathan the Wise." The performance will be broadcast live via streaming video to the Qatar campus on March 11.

Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama will present Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's "Nathan the Wise" Feb. 23-25 and Feb. 28-March 4 at Carnegie Mellon's Philip Chosky Theatre. The play tells the story of a Jewish merchant who must negotiate religious conflict in 12th-century Jerusalem for the good of his family. Mladen Kiselov, professor of directing and acting, will direct the production.

As part of an ongoing initiative to link the School of Drama's work to larger ideas and issues on campus and around the world, the School of Drama will host a talkback session after the Feb. 23 preview that will feature Sarah Bryant-Bertail, associate professor of theory and criticism at the University of Washington School of Drama. Bryant-Bertail, an internationally renowned theorist of German drama, has studied numerous modern productions of Lessing's work. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and studied at both the Sorbonne and the Berlin Akademie der Kuenste. Bryant-Bertail will also address the Carnegie Mellon campus as part of the University Lecture Series at 4:30 p.m., Feb. 23 in the Adamson Wing of Baker Hall. She will also be featured as a lecturer for the School of Drama's annual Interdisciplinary Play Symposium, which this year focuses on "Nathan the Wise."

"Nathan the Wise" is one of the finest 18th century writings of Lessing, the father of German classical drama. The piece is presented in a fresh and urgent new translation by British writer Edward Kemp and reminds audiences of the power of reconciliation and communion as responses to religious persecution and violence. The play presents situations eerily reminiscent of today's political and religious strife in the Middle East.

"This play, in my view, is one of the most powerfully articulated pleas for religious and ethnic tolerance ever written," said Elizabeth Bradley, head of the School of Drama.

"Lessing's drama is rarely encountered on stage. But, as the dangers of religious fundamentalism escalate, it has finally made the leap from cobwebbed classic to vital play-for-today," wrote Paul Taylor in his review of Edward Kemp's translation of "Nathan the Wise" at the Hampstead Theatre in London for The Independent. Michael Billington, theater critic for London's The Guardian, wrote, "Lessing's play is a seminal piece of world drama written in 1779 and banned by the Nazis in 1933; its theme speaks urgently and forcefully to us today."

Kiselov is a world-renowned director and drama teacher. In Bulgaria, he was resident director of the Bulgarian National Theatre and professor at the National Theatre and Film Academy. His international directing credits include productions in Europe, Russia (including the Moscow Art Theatre), Canada and the U.S. Kiselov is also a member of the U.S. Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.

"Nathan the Wise" will run Tuesday-Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets for Tuesday-Thursday nights and the Saturday matinee are $22 for the general public, $17.50 for faculty and staff, $13.25 for senior citizens, and $11 for students. Friday night tickets are $25 for the general public, $20 for faculty and staff, $15 for senior citizens and $12.50 for students. Saturday night tickets are $25 for the general public and $20 for faculty and staff.

The School of Drama is one of the nation's most distinguished degree-granting professional theatre conservatories. It is one of five schools within Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts, a community of nationally and internationally recognized artists and professionals organized into Architecture, Art, Design, Drama and Music, and their associated centers and programs. The 2005-06 academic year represents the centennial of Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts, which accepted its first students in the fall of 1905 to the School of Fine and Applied Arts at the Carnegie Technical Schools.

For additional information about the upcoming season or ticket purchases please contact the School of Drama box office at 412-268-2407, noon-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. For more information on the School of Drama or the College of Fine Arts, visit or contact Eric Sloss at 412-268-5765 or

Eric Sloss
February 17, 2006

Carnegie Mellon Home