Robert Wilson b. 1941
Robert Wilson, Tom Waits & William S. Burroughs - The Black Rider (1992)
Duration: 136'13"

This is a TVRip of the Austrian broadcast of the original Black Rider musical, performed in 1990 as part of the Wiener Festwochen. There is a 7-minute introduction in German, and the dialogue and music is in both German and English.

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 was largely responsible for the design and direction. Burroughs wrote the book, while Waits wrote the music and 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 March 31, 1990. November Theatre produced its world English-language premiere in 1998 at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival in Canada, and the American English-language premiere at the New York International Fringe Festival in 1999. Waits recorded much of the music from the play in different arrangements under the eponymous title, The Black Rider.

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.

The music to The Black Rider was composed and performed by Tom Waits, and was released as a record in 1993. The best known track is probably the ballad "November", which is still occasionally performed by Waits during concerts. "'Tain't No Sin" features spoken word dialogue by Burroughs. The album has a cult status amongst many Waits fans.