Saturday, 22 November 2008

the black rider

This play was written by Tom Waits, Robert Wilson and William S. Burroughs which tells the tragic tale of Wilhelm, an inept German clerk who cuts a Faustian deal with Pegleg (a.k.a Mephistopheles) to get magic bullets which never miss in order to impress his belle, the daughter of a huntsman insistant his offspring is never marrying a bad shot.

Pegleg warns that one of the bullets will be under his control. Being naive, the clerk accepts and it's not until his wedding day that the twist is revealed as the last bullet is fired and his beloved is killed by it. Wilhelm goes mad and joins the Devil's Carnival as another performer and victim of superior cunning.

Waits also brought out an album of the same name, full of organ music, brass and and strings which makes a wonderfully creaky, menacing soundtrack for broken-down fairgrounds and backwater American towns.

The story hinges on the willingness to take the easy way out when confronted with their weaknesses to get what they desire; in itself a situation which can fuel a number of stories. The Faustian deal is also a core element and while it's a hoary part of legendry, it's supernatural overtures can be played up or down as needed.

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