The Black Rider 2018
The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets is a self-billed "musical fable" in the avant-garde tradition created through the collaboration of theatre director Robert Wilson, musician Tom Waits, and writer William S. Burroughs. Wilson, in the original production, was largely responsible for the design and direction. Burroughs wrote the book, while Waits wrote the music and most of the lyrics. The project began in about 1988 when Wilson approached Waits. The story is based on a German folktale called Der Freischütz, which had previously been made into an opera by Carl Maria von Weber. It premiered at Hamburg's Thalia Theatre on 31 March 1990, and was performed at Paris's Théâtre du Châtelet on 9 October 1990. November Theatre produced its world English-language premiere in 1998 at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival in Canada. Det Norske Teatret in Oslo staged a Norwegian (Nynorsk) version in 1998, with Lasse Kolsrud as Pegleg.Only the dialogue was translated, the songs were performed in English.
Wilhelm, a file clerk, falls in love with a huntsman's daughter. In order to marry, Wilhelm must prove his worth as a hunter and gain her father's approval, but, as "a man of pen and ink", his shot is lousy and his hopes of marriage worsen. That is until he is offered magic bullets by the devil, Pegleg – who assures him that his bullets will always have a sure shot. However, Pegleg stipulates that, while most of the bullets will hit anything Wilhelm pleases, one of the bullets is under Pegleg's control. Foolish, naive, and overrun with desperate hope, Wilhelm accepts the Faustian pact. On the day of Wilhelm's wedding, the final bullet strikes his beloved dead. He then goes mad, and joins the previous victims of Satan's cunning in the Devil's carnival.
Although based on folklore, the story contains strong autobiographical elements from Burroughs' own life: he accidentally shot his own wife in a drunken attempt at recreating the William Tell legend, and the story as a whole may be construed as a warning tale about the destructive powers of addiction.