Paul D’Andrea's Play, Nathan the Wise, is at the Cosmos Club in Washington D.C. April 16

“Seeking Peace through Religious Tolerance”

A Luncheon Reader’s Theatre Performance of

Nathan the Wise
by Paul D’Andrea

Cosmos Theatre, Cosmos Club, Washington DC
Saturday, April 16, 2022, 12:00-2:30 pm

G. E. Lessing’s 1779 play Nathan the Wise, the first play to be performed in liberated Berlin in 1945, is one of the world’s classics on religious tolerance. Playwright Paul D’Andrea’s (’05) adaptation updates the play to 2022, offering a vision of Jews, Christians, and Muslims as “People of the Book,” united by a shared and reverenced text, offering each other informed mutual respect and rich cultural gifts.

In the Jerusalem of 1192, at the time of the bloody Third Crusade, the Muslim sultan Saladin declares a truce in which the three great religions are to live in harmony. The visionary peace is soon broken by a fiery young Christian knight. Saladin's sister, the lady Sittah, and Heraklios, the Christian patriarch, seek the riches of Nathan, a famously wise and wealthy Jewish merchant. Nathan is brought to trial. His life hangs on the answer to the question, “What is the true faith?” As Nathan predicted, it is the young people—his precocious daughter Recha and the fiery Templar — who find an imaginative resolution of the conflict.


D’Andrea’s plays are the source of such quotations as “Certainty is murder,” “our adverbial legal system,” and “Aspire higher, rabbi,” and have been produced Off Broadway, at theatres such as the Mark Taper and the Magic, in London and Rome, and on PBS and NPR. He has received the American Theatre Critics’ Best New Play Award. He was the founding artistic director of Theater of the First Amendment, winner of 12 Helen Hayes Awards.