People's Light's artistic director Abigail Adams helms the production, which plays the Malvern, PA, venue through Oct. 11.
The cast features David Strathairn ("Good Night, and Good Luck" and Broadway's Dance of Death) as Nathan, Roslyn Ruff as Sittah, Saige Thompson as Rachel, Peter DeLaurier as The Patriarch, Stephen Novelli as Saladin, Kathryn Petersen as Daya, Graham Smith as The Lay Brother, Luigi Sottile as The Templar and Brian Anthony Wilson as Al-Hafi.
Nathan the Wise, according to press notes, "is a plea for religious tolerance. Lessing completed the first rough draft of the play in November 1778. He then began putting it into verse and was the first in Germany to use iambic pentameter. The play was published in May 1779, but did not receive its first public performance until April 1783, two years after Lessing's death. The character of Nathan is based on Lessing's good friend and German Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. . . . [The play] is a colorful story, rich in wisdom and warmth, which celebrates our differences as well as our shared humanity. It takes place in 1192 in Jerusalem, where Jews, Christians and Muslims live side by side. A heroic act by a mysterious Templar brings together a wealthy Jewish merchant, his love-struck daughter, a sultan and a Christian Patriarch."
In a recent statement director Adams said, "Nathan the Wise opens our 35th anniversary season. It couldn't be more apt for us to kick off our year with a play in which friendship amidst difference trumps all other values. In our production, especially in the cast, we celebrate the long artistic friendships with company members and guests that define who we are."
The creative team includes set designer Wilson Chin, costume designer Marla Jurglanis, lighting designer Dennis Parichy and sound designer Christopher Colucci. People's Light & Theatre is located at 39 Conestoga Road in Malvern, PA. For tickets call (610) 644-3500 or visit www.peopleslight.org.