Posted on November 15, 2010 by Tia Lalani

One of the darkest, most complex and popular works of modern theatre is coming to Camrose from November 15 to 20.

By Christopher Thrall –

One of the darkest, most complex and popular works of modern theatre is coming to Camrose. Its rights almost impossible to secure and its production prohibitively expensive, The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets is rarely mounted anywhere in the world but the Rose City will host its Canadian university debut!

From November 15 to 20, the U of A Augustana theatre will echo with the sinister overtones of Der Freischütz, a German folktale of a Faustian bargain with the devil, retold by beat poet William S. Burroughs and set to music by the notorious Tom Waits.

“This is a really hard play. It’s above the students’ reach and beyond mine,” says professor Kristine Nutting about the amazing opportunity to work the infamous play. She couldn’t resist trying.

“Burroughs’ writing is cryptic and dreamlike, without a set plotline,” she explains, “while Waits’ music is discordant but gets stuck in the head. It’s a really beautiful play with motifs of death and the way we sell our souls a little bit at a time.” Making sense of The Black Rider for an 18-year-old actor, as well as an audience, is a real challenge.

Nutting and her students will be supported by talented professionals from around Alberta: musical assistance comes from Curtis Ross of Bebop Cortez and Jason Kodie of Le Fuzz, choreography by dancer Kathy Ochoa and actor Amber Borotsik, as well as a return of alumnus Christopher Cook to the stage. Nutting is glad of their help, after she worked so hard to secure rights for the play.

She connected with director Robert Wilson’s agent and proposed the production as an educational opportunity for rural Albertan students, nearly begging Wilson to let them do it. “Often, the projects that we are allowed to do are fairly limited,” said Nutting. “Community theatre is mostly limited to the tried and true pieces that break even. We can’t venture off the beaten path, which is what makes this such a terrific opportunity.”

Ticket prices are not set, though a minimum donation of $10 is recommended. Donations and concession proceeds will go towards the costs of production. Nutting believes that people will come to see the show based on its notoriety. “I hope the Camrose audience’s expectations can be expanded,” she said, “not because the show is so good, but rather that as a culturally-savvy audience they will appreciate good art.”

“Students will gain the experience of working on a difficult show, striving for something that is out of their grasp,” said Nutting, “as will the musicians and choreographers, as will the audience—as will I.”

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