Theater of the First Amendment Stages Concert Version of Nathan the Wise

Posted: August 23, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Called a “clearly witty, intelligent, and sophisticated dissection of vanity and bigotry” by The Washington Post at its 2001 premiere, Nathan the Wise played to capacity audiences and garnered praise from critics and pundits across the metropolitan area. The play was filmed for broadcast by WETA-TV, had a reading at the Clarice Smith Center of the University of Maryland, and was produced in Rome last year by the Centro Dionysia in conjunction with the Italian Ministry of Culture.

Theater of the First Amendment, the professional producing company in residence at George Mason’s Center for the Arts, will present a special, staged concert reading of Nathan the Wise on Saturday, Sept. 11, at 8 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall. The reading features F. Murray Abraham in the role of Nathan and many actors from the play’s original ensemble cast. Winner of a Best Actor Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his performance as Salieri in 1984’s Amadeus, F. Murray Abraham is one of the industry’s most versatile actors.

The evening includes a preperformance discussion by John Esposito, recognized expert on Islam, professor at Georgetown University, and author of the best-selling book What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam. The discussion begins at 7 p.m. Following the reading, an informal audience exchange and analysis in the Concert Hall lobby will provide an opportunity to discuss the issues raised in the play.

Nathan the Wise presents the challenge of asking people to transcend thinking in terms of the other, in order to re-think in terms of commonality,” explains playwright Paul D’Andrea, Robinson Professor of Theater and English. The play, he says, “sees Jews, Christians, and Muslims as People of the Book, united by cultural richness, while giving each other gifts of particularity.” Nathan attempts to illustrate the differences–and the often overlooked similarities–between the followers of the three religions residing together under Saladin’s rule in Jerusalem during the Crusades.

Tom Prewitt, director of the world premiere production of Nathan the Wise, returns for this reading, and the production uses David McKeever’s original sound design.

Tickets are $25. Charge by phone at 703-218-6500 or visit

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