Die Voegel ("The Birds")

a comical and fantastical story inspired by Aristophanes

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 !

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