Did you know that Robert Wilson’s iconic play the Black Rider was adapted by Beat writer William S. Burroughs, and featured music by Tom Waits?
Debuting in 1990 at the Thailia Theater Hamburg, Wilson’s play was based on the German folktale Der Freischütz, which recounted the tale of an unfortunate man who made a pact with the devil in order to prove his worth, resulting tragically in the death of his beloved.
When Wilson read the strange German story in a library in Stuttgart, he contacted Waits immediately with a proposition to work together. Wilson recalls, “I think we’re emotionally tied somehow. In my work the emotion is sometimes hidden or buried, and Tom’s music has a very deep emotional centre for me. I immediately liked it when I first heard it.” Poet Allen Ginsberg then made the suggestion to Wilson that William S. Burroughs join the collaboration, perhaps because Burroughs’s own experience accidentally shooting his wife to death bore uncanny resemblance to the plot. The video above is from one of Waits’s recording sessions for the soundtrack of the Black Rider.
See Selections from Robert Wilson’s Collection atPaddle8, on sale through December 31. Co-presented with the Watermill Center.