By Erin Hacker
The production of “Nathan the Wise,” put on by CSB/SJU students and directed by theater professor Kaarin Johnston, allowed for CSB/SJU students to think and design creatively.
“Nathan the Wise” was written by playwright Gotthold Ephraim Lessing in 1779, but it “was not allowed into production until after his death because his views on God were deemed too religiously tolerant,” Johnston said via email.
The play takes place in Jerusalem in 1192 during the third crusade. A Jerusalem where a sultan, a Greek orthodox patriarch, a templar knight, a friar, a dervish and Nathan, a Jew, live side by side thanks to a truce. Nathan is raised to answering the question of what is the “true” religion.
The play was chosen to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the St. John’s
Collegeville Institute, whose missino is to create community through faith. After “Nathan the Wise” was chosen, Johnston modernized and condensed the script.
The cast understood the challenge of bringing a serious piece to life, but also
included lighthearted moments and laughter.
“It’s not supposed to be a comedy, but somehow it achieved a really humorous
atmosphere that has been leaving audiences laughing throughout and jumping into discussion as soon as the house lights come up at the end of the show,” sophomore stage manager Isabel Huot-Link said via email.
The actors walked around and spoke to each section of the audience while
delivering their lines. This engaged the audience throughout the show and allowed the actors to use the entire stage.
“For a play of its age, I found the storyline to be easy to follow and very engaging,” sophomore Victoria Jennrich said.
There was a record number of student designers for this production.
“Most of the time in a college setting, professors and staff members design the set, lights, sound and costumes. However, in this show, there were five students
designing only one of them majoring in theater, which is extremely rare,” Hout-Link said.
There was a display outside of the Colman Theater showing the sketches and thought processes behind the designs so audiences could get a look on how all
aspects of the play came together.
The next show from the theater department is the contemporary musical “Next to Normal” directed by Sean Dooley. Performances start Nov. 9 and run until Nov. 18.