By Robert Simonson
09 Sep 2004
The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets is a musical theatre piece featuring music and lyrics by Tom Waits, text from William S. Burroughs and musical arrangements by Greg Cohen and Waits. Robert Wilson directs the work billed as a "re-imagining of a 19th century folk tale about a clerk who makes a Faustian pact with the devil, accepting magic bullets in order to win the hand of his beloved in a shooting contest."
International pop singer and actor Marianne Faithfull stars in the The Black Rider as Pegleg, the devil incarnate opposite Cabaret vet Matt McGrath (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) as clerk Wilhelm. Canadian singer Mary Margaret O'Hara (sister of Catherine O'Hara) portrays Kätchen, Wilhelm’s true love.
The ensemble also includes Sona Cervená, Alan Charlesworth, Janet Henfrey, Jessie Kilguss, Nigel Richards, Dean Robinson, Gabriella Santinelli, Richard Strange, Monika Tahal, Jake Thornton and Jack Willis.
The design team of The Black Rider includes Wilson (set and lights), Frida Parmeggiani (costumes) and Heinrich Brunke (additional lights). Wolfgang Wiens provides dramaturgy.
Bent Clausen serves as musical director with David Coulter as associate music director over an eight-member orchestra called "The Magic Bullets" featuring Thomas Bloch, Terry Edwards, Caroline Hall, Rory McFarlane, Jack Pinter and Kate St John. The score of The Black Rider calls for an eclectic pit of such instruments as the toy piano, the pocket trumpet, the Stroh violin, the Ondes Martenot, the glass harmonica, the Cristal Baschet, the drunk piano and the musical saw.
The Black Rider was previously seen at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The San Francisco run is produced by BITE:04, Barbican, London, and Cultural Industry, and co-produced by A.C.T. and Sydney Festival (where the show will travel next) in association with The Black Rider Circle.
For subscriptions to the season at A.C.T., 415 Geary St. in San Francisco, CA, call (415) 749-2250. For more information, visit www.act-sf.org.