The Play of Daniel

A medieval mystery play

To the holder of the stars, the Almighty, this crowd of men and boys give praises. For they hear what faithful Daniel had to endure and to undergo without faltering.

Das Ensemble

A co-production of the Theater der Klaenge with the music ensemble ESTAMPIE from Munich.
Cast of the world premiere on 28 December 1994 in the Kreuzherrenkirche Düsseldorf
Editing: Michael Popp
Staging: Jörg U. Lensing
Dramaturgical consulting: Dr. Andreas Bossmann
Choreographic consulting: Nirupama Nityanandan
Stage design: Zahra Ritz-Rahman
Costumes: Caterina Di Fiore
Costume assistant: Stefanie Richter
Musical concept: Michael Popp /ESTAMPIE
Light design: Jörg U. Lensing
Theatre and project management: Jörg U. Lensing
Artistic office: Dorothea Verheyen
Poster and programme design: Ernst Merheim / Erne Kis
Photos: Barbara Bechtloff
ESTAMPIE: The musicians and their instruments:
Percussion, Santouri, vocals: Johann Bengen
Harp, singing: Marie-Catherine Melnitzky
Singing (Belsazar / Darius): Tobias Pfülb
Ud, flute, shawm, fiddle, tanbour, vocals: Michael Popp
Singing: Gerlinde Sämann
Percussion: Hannes Schanderl
Fiddle, shawm, singing (Daniel): Tobias Schlierf
Portative, hurdy-gurdy, organistrum, bells, singing: Ernst Schwindl
Singing (Queen / Angel): Syrah
Theater der Klaenge: The performers and their roles:
Palace Dancer, Playwoman, Habakuk: Barbara Becker
Dottore, Darius: Kai Bettermann
Praecursor, Daniel: Clemente Fernandez
Scholar, Babylonian Queen, Gypsy: Jacqueline Fischer
Palace dancer, court lady: Kerstin Hörner
Scholar, court lady: Maria-Jesus Lorrio
Belshazzar, minstrel: Francesco Russo
Babylonian prince, Persian prince: Tilmann Schillinger
Babylonian prince, Persian prince: Thomas Wansing

About the Production

LUDUS DANIELIS (“The play of Daniel”) – A medieval mystery play is the title of a 1994/95 musical theater production, which came into being out of a suggestion from musician/composer Michael Popp. The Theater der Klaenge adapted the staging of LUDUS DANIELIS to the music of the ensemble Estampie, which itself went back to a 1230 original script written by monks of the closter of Beauvais (F), and which in those days was presumedly performed every year at the New Year’s Fest.

Europe of the Middle Ages witnessed the rebirth of theater in the churches. Out of the wish to portray biblical themes pictorially and with movement, were composed many different mystery plays of Testament subjectmatter, in which music was first applied to text from the Bible, following which the respective storylines were acted out along the sung out text.

LUDUS DANIELIS takes on a very special role in the musical creations of the Middle Ages. It dealt with nothing less than the first try since antiquity, to merge acting and music- the invention so to speak of Opera in the medieval world. The band ESTAMPIE from Muenich, which specialises in ancient music, has, as per the medieval musical conception, allocated to the leading roles specific instruments, which also provide the rhythm for the dance.

Contrarily to the then customary, very expensive performance practice, the Theater der Klaenge has concentrated itself on a church play which translates the sung text into acting and dance. On the basis of the closeness of the subject matter to the Orient (Babylonia, Persia ca. 600 B-C), the Theater der Klaenge allowed itself to be inspired by indian stage dance. The middle-age “Spielleute” (“playpeople”) were included in the LUDUS DANIELIS in order to make the material not only biblically authentic but also performable. These actors appear between each (dance- and music-) act, in order to comment on the play, or parody it, or even put it in question in their very earthly manner .

The staging by Theater der Klaenge in collaboration with ESTAMPIE at the turn of the year 1994/95 in the “Duesseldorfer Kreuzherrenkirche” church was a great public success. Since then the piece has had guest performances in several places (mostly churches) , 30 very successful presentations for a total of approximately 7000 viewers. It was also performed collaboratively with the band ESTAMPIE, as well as with our play “Die Vögel” (“The Birds”), by invitation at “Salonika, cultural capital of Europe” in 1997.

The cooperation with ESTAMPIE continued in 2004 for the production “Gregorius on the stone” and flowed in 2012 into a feature-film with the same title and also with the soundtrack of ESTAMPIE and Thomas Neuhaus.

The Play of Daniel: Press

Inspired by Michael Popps ensemble for early music ESTAMPIE, Jörg Lensing created an exiting five-parter, within which indian dance, oriental sound and Gregorian singing are artistically combined. It is played upon a stage in the space of the altar. Wrapped in an indulgent mystery and with velvet costumes of the supple stylised dancers, the others dressed as travelling entertainers. (…) Secret handsigns and gestures, the following extremely stylised templ-dance, the thunderous drum work and the cheeping side instruments – all this reminds one of Great World Theatre.

Neue Rhein Zeitung

Glaringly made-up, robed in magnificant colour the dance barefoot on the boarded podium, and upon whose side-wall the stage-designer has painted a picture story fresco.
(…) connecting these forms to fascinating theatre, that with music and dance, with singing and Mudras to tell the tale. The Mudras are a sign language of the hand. With this, between the acts, the performers wildly gesticulate, commend and parody what has happened on stage – from the angel ofthe people -, that the ecclesiastical were not to be trusted. Therefore, the piece contains a tongue-in-cheek dimension. A sparkling idea too is to leave Daniel to the play the lions. Also, when Habakuk is taken by the ear from an angel to support Daniel, that is already half the rescue.

Westdeutsche Zeitung

In fact, the piece can be magically relaxing, almost meditative when the viewer allows the pictures and the singing to take over and doesn’t try to understand every gesture. The solid ritvalised from the play is harmonised by the artificial direction of the director; the performers dance a very reduced ballett. They develop a subtle humour white discovering a sign language for the figures “which is inspired by Indian dance-forms”.


Place oneself before Eygiptian wall paintings and hieroglypics, suddendly they begin to breath as figures from ancient Babylon step out of their pictures. (…) Without words, but conveying exotic gracefulness, exeedingly fascinating gestures whose precise elegance almost cuts into once consciousness. And a extremely strange, almost puppet-like stareing, jerky mimic, inrtimidating symmetry, worked with a riveting effect.


A fascinating theatraical experience: As a ritual, a drama in five scenes on a stage – a wodden platform in the style of a Middel-age wandering troupe. With a backdrop that the course of events are told in single pictures as a fresco-like comic and stamping dance movements of the barefoot performers like Spanish flamenco castanets effectively emphasised. Leir and lute, gongs, bells and cymbals, flute and portative accompany the pantomimish and Indian temple-dance gesticulation the nine performers being magnificiantly robed as if from the “one thousend and one nights”. Between the scenes worldly “entertainers” appear, comment and explain what has happened in a more relaxed manner and with evident modern relationships.

Welt am Sonntag