The Birds

A comic and fantastic story after Aristophanes

Pisthetairos: You could also say “Space”. But because space is everywhere and everything is in space it is now called “District”. Once you build something in this district and set a frontier around it, the district will become kingdom.

Das Ensemble

Cast of the world premiere on 22 February 1996 at the Junges Theater in der Altstadt (JuTA) Düsseldorf

Editing: Jörg U. Lensing / Theater der Klänge
Staging: Jörg U. Lensing
Dramaturgical consulting: Dr. Andreas Bossmann
Choreographic work: Jörg U. Lensing, Jacqueline Fischer, Kerstin Hörner
Choreographic consulting: Nirupama Nityanandan
Stage design: Zarah Ritz-Rahman
Costumes: Caterina Di Fiore
Costume assistant: Susanne Kardes, Corinna Smidt, Katrin Wessel
Costume helpers: Monique Lipp, Ulla Wrobel
Masks: Nathalie Cohen, Erhard Stiefel
Balinese Masks: I.B. Anom, I.N. Setiawan, I.W. Suba
Musical concept: Jörg U. Lensing, Thomas Neuhaus
Light: Luce Nordmann
Training leader: Jacqueline Fischer, Kerstin Hörner
Theatre and project management: Jörg U. Lensing
Artistic office: Dorothea Verheyen
Poster and programme design: Erne Kis, Ernst Merheim
Photos: Barbara Bechtloff
Music: Matthes Hagedorn: Flutes
Thomas Wansing: Percussion, Piano Harp, Psaltery, Harmonium
Roland Weber: Percussion, Santouri, Saz, Bouzouki, Guitar
Performers: Carola Bambas, Kai Bettermann, Nathalie Cohen, Clemente Fernandez, Jacqueline Fischer, Kerstin Hörner, Isabelle Rivoal, Christophe Thebault
Choir birds: Karima Bende, Mona Deußen, Damaris Gendolla, Tusnelda Mercy, Jenny Schäfer, Konstantinos Tzintziras

About the Production

In 1995/ 96 the Theater der Klaenge focused its efforts for the first time on a piece belonging to world litterature. Basing itself on various german translations, the Theater der Klaenge decided during the rehearsal process on an adaptation, or a new version of “The Birds” by Aristophanes, which would be created by J.U.Lensing in collaboration with the actor Clemente Fernandez.

The piece deals with the two “drop-outs” Evelpides (the Optimist) and Pisthetairos (the exaggerator), who abandon Athens and end up in a world between the earth and the land of the gods. It is the World of the Birds. The Birds assimilate the two into their world and turn them into one of theirs. The two convince the Birds that they have the power to rule over men and even to defy the gods. The birds are convinced and as a sign of their new entitlement, build an aerial city surrounded by a wall, between the world of the gods and the world of men. Evelpides and Pisthetairos become the architects of a “model” society, which in the shortest time reaches a position of power which cannot be ignored anymore either by men, or by the gods. The primordially paradiselike world of the Birds pays thereby the price for having sold itself, with Pisthetairos as the absolute ruler of this new world.

Aristophanes excercises with “The Birds” concrete critique on the Athenian society of his times, but also on the handling of power by humans. “The Birds” stand for a world which operates on a different set of natural laws. It is indeed named with different concrete “bird names”, what is however meant is a paradise-like world which has contact with the civilised world. The aboriginals that Columbus came upon, were also neither people nor animals, but heathen creatures which populated Paradise. Aristophanes manages the rare feat of relating a timeless political tale, when one choses to look at it as such.

The Theater der Klaenge staged the adaptation of the old material in a new mixture of mask-work, dance- “chorus”, and stage music composed specifically for the piece. The different expieriences acquired during the last two pieces seeped into the new staging. Working with masks had since that time become the adopted style of the Theater der Klaenge, as it had been intensely used in the previous “Reden isr Silber…” (“Speech is of silver…”). Basic work for the choreography and the bodylanguage of the Birds came out of the involvement with indian dance forms, as most recently explored in “LUDUS DANIELIS” (“The play of Daniel”). The basic approach for the stage music was improvisational work with the musicians, under the direction of composers Thomas Neuhaus and Joerg Lensing, as had been already practiced in “Die barocke Maskenbuehne” (“The baroque Theater of Masks”), “November” and “Reden ist Silber…” (“Speech is of silver…”).

“Die Voegel” was shown with great success 34 times to approximately 6000 spectators in 7 cities, and remains first in the repertoire of the Theater der Klaenge despite the need for an 18 actor ensemble. 
In 1997 “Die Voegel” received an invitation from Salonika (Greece) to be performed in its native land alongside the “LUDUS DANIELIS” production, and was translated back to Greek for that event!

The Birds: Press

The 2400 year old piece appears to be cut-to-fit the group. Not least in the way that the flock of birds offers a sensitive musical interpretation. The interpretation of the actors’ gesticulation and mimicry being extremely demanding, is seldom apparent to the viewer.

Foyer, Essen

The troop, whos work is a form of ‘Total-Theatre’, dance, music and the spoken word, belong to the most innovative and creative that the area has to offer. The ‘Theater der Klänge’ is a welcome guest in other theatres … and in every case an enrichment of the cultural scene.

Theater Pur

Celebrated premiere : … so had Lensings mimes bewitched the viewers for three hours of archaic drum-dances and secretive mask-play: They melt together imperceptibly and profoundly in an enlightening piece about the infinite story lust for power. Although, whoever awaits a tragic story of villains and victims is in the wrong place. With competend effortlessness and comediantic talent, five women and three men lead us gently through the three hour evening … sparkling with lust-for-life and humour, create space for fantasy and never slide into plain coarseness. However, what would this all be without the magical flute and percussion sound ? They do not illustrate but characterise individual creations – particularly in the scenes of the bird chorus. The suggestive power of the dancing feathered creatures reminds one of world-theatre and mythological magic …

Neue Rhein Zeitung

… what the dancers now as a bird chorus led by ‘Cockeral’ Kerstin Hörner and supported by three musicians on the stage … lay down is rousing. They swirl, stamp and flutter, so creating the blurred, hopeful atmosphere of this newly established ‘Cloud-Cuckoo-Land’, better as words ever could. The story originates from the year 414 B.C. and presents itself as being surprisingly up-to-date. With ‘Die Vögel’ , ‘Theater der Klange’ has created a great success …

West Deutsche Zeitung

It is a performance that has several things to offer, particularly for the eyes and ears of the audience. The actors masks are humerous, at times grotesquely over-the-top … both the birds and the Athenians do not understand another. The feathered friends speak in an extravagantly danced body-language that reminds one of the rites in old Indian films. The dance exerpts are worth seeing … It is essentially a colourful spectacle that the ‘Theater der Klänge’ bring, with great commitment, on the stage.

Rheinische Post 

X