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The Black Rider: the casting of the magic bullets

The Black Rider
Directed by Peter Falkenberg and featuring Arts Foundation laureate Delaney Davidson, The Black Rider is part of a big year of music-theatre explorations from Free Theatre.


Trailblazing Christchurch-based theatre company Free Theatre is developing an exciting new production of The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets, as part of a special year of music-theatre projects.


Directed by Peter Falkenberg and featuring Arts Foundation laureate Delaney Davidson, The Black Rider is the New Zealand première of a work originally conceived by collaborators Tom Waits, William S. Burroughs and internationally acclaimed director Robert Wilson. Based on the German opera Der Freischütz by Carl Maria von Weber, the story revolves around a lover and his fateful pact with the devil.

Falkenberg says, “it is an exciting vehicle to explore and bring together popular music and avant-garde theatre in an unusual and highly entertaining way”. With popular and successful recent productions in Barcelona, Berlin, Norway and Denmark, Falkenberg says the intention is to create a distinctively New Zealand take on the work.

Davidson was excited to be invited to collaborate on the project: “The Black Rider is gonna be a killer show. It will blur the boundaries between music, theatre and film, and blend German expressionism style with dark Cabaret carnival music". With a set design by Stuart Lloyd-Harris, planning for the project is well underway for a limited two-week season (April 21-May 6) at the Free Theatre’s base, The Gym, in the Christchurch Arts Centre. Through Free Theatre’s New Works and Education Programme, The Gym has developed a reputation for exciting, cutting-edge contemporary performance with a diversity of innovative productions: Kafka’s Amerika, Footprints/Tapuwae, The Mauricio Kagel Project and Frankenstein.


Arts Centre Chief Executive André Lovatt welcomes Free Theatre’s ability to continuously innovate and draw people to the site. He says, “Each year, they’re developing new exciting and daring work based around the collaboration of exceptional artists. Free Theatre produces the kind of mind-blowingunique experiences we want to promote in the new Arts Centre”.


Actor/producer George Parker says “We’re stoked about the calibre of artists that are collaborating with us this year. We’re deliberately mixing up ideas of what is considered high art and the popular to create new work for new audiences in the new city. For that you need artists prepared to take genuine risks as was the case with the original collaborators of The Black Rider”. As part of the programme, the company will also present a fresh run of popular Ubu Nights, which combine performance, music, film and hospitality around different themes. This will begin with a special Faust Ubu Night on February 17 as a warm-up to The Black Rider with inspiration from Goethe, Marlowe, Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Diamanda Galas, Delaney Davidson and Franz Schubert. Parker says another major music-theatre project for the company is Ars Acustica, a continuing collaboration with Chinese composer Gao Ping and New Zealand conductor Hamish McKeich. Presented in September, Ars Acustica will feature performers from the Chengdu Sichuan Opera Institute who will also take part in a special one-off concert of Sichuan music in the Arts Centre. 


Through these and other projects, Free Theatre will continue to collaborate with The Auricle and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. During the year, the company will also be developing its How Not To be Hamlet? project, incorporating the work of erstwhile Free Theatre member and musician Roy Montgomery and his collaboration with current ensemble stalwart Emma Johnston.


Free Theatre’s research arm, Te Puna Toi, will again be active during the year, including: workshops and artist talks relating to these music-theatre projects; publishing of papers presented on Free Theatre at the Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies at AUT, Auckland in June; the launch of a new book Acting and its Refusal by Free Theatre ensemble member Dr Marian McCurdy in July; and a special event to mark the release of a documentary on Free Theatre by New Zealand filmmaker Shirley Horrocks.


For all media enquiries and interview requests please contact George Parker on or call 022-395-4037. Thank you.


The Black Rider Performance Information:



Friday April 21, 8pm

Saturday April 22, 8pm

Wednesday April 26, 8pm

Thursday April 27, 8pm

Friday April 28, 8pm

Saturday April 29, 8pm

Wednesday May 3, 8pm

Thursday May 4, 8pm

Friday May 5, 8pm

Saturday May 6, 8pm



Location: The Gym, The Arts Centre, Worcester Boulevard.



$25-$40. Group Discounts available.

Online Bookings Essential.



Contact details:

Written by

Free Theatre Christchurch

3 Feb 2017