Lessing's Nathan the Wise (1779), exemplary for its enlightenment and humanist ideals, assembles Jews, Christians, and Muslims in dialogue during the medieval crusades in Jerusalem. Their encounters allow them to transcend conflict, to recognize their common humanity, and to resolve their differences through dialectical discourse and group arguments. In this article Eva Urban looks closely at the representation of enlightenment in this play and examines the potential role of plays and theatre practice in developing autonomous citizenship and intercultural understanding. Particular reference is made to the 2013 Berliner Ensemble production of Nathan the Wise in relation to aesthetic debates about modern political drama. Eva Urban is a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge, and an Associate of Clare Hall, Cambridge. She is the author of Community Politics and the Peace Process in Contemporary Northern Irish Drama (Peter Lang, 2010) and has published a number of articles on political drama and Irish studies.