A devil's bargain is always a fool's bargain, particularly for an artist. The devil deals only in quantity, not in quality.
William S. Burroughs
This is a great night of theatre. Stunning performances, superb direction, and a fascinating, original and adventurous theatrical work... How lucky we are in Christchurch to have such a depth and variety of theatrical talent and opportunities
Tony Ryan, Theatreview
Come on along with the Black Rider for a musical carnival ride where a lover sells his soul for magic bullets. Directed by Peter Falkenberg and featuring Arts Foundation laureate Delaney Davidson, this is a New Zealand première of a work originally conceived by collaborators Tom Waits (music), William S. Burroughs (text) and Robert Wilson (direction). It is based on the German romantic opera Der Freischutz by Carl Maria von Weber.
Apr 21 - May 6 2017
Return Season: Aug 31 - Sep 1 2017
"Relevant and absorbing"
Tony Ryan, Theatreview, 22 April 2017
"'The Black Rider' needs editing to allow beautiful songs to shine"
Charlie Gates, The Press, 22 April 2017
Interviews and articles
Delaney Davidson - The Black Rider
"Tom Waits musical makes Kiwi debut in Christchurch"
Giles Dexter, Newshub, 12 April 2017
"The devil rides into Christchurch with Kiwi premiere of a "musical with a sting"
Charlie Gates, The Press, 19 April 2017
The Black Rider: the casting of the magic bullets
The Big Idea, 3 February 2017
(images: Sabin Holloway)
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.
What audiences are saying:
What a triumph! It was such a fantastic performance: the music was wonderful, there were many moments when you felt you were in Berlin early last century. The bullet was brilliant! And Delaney Davidson was simply awesome. I loved the way it started and ended with what looked like marionettes being set free from their box and returned to it. We felt very privileged to have been invited and will certainly be raving about it to others.
Astounding! Off-kilter beauty, beautifully ugly, movingly funny and strangely soothing. Churning around in the mind, as usual. That's the Free Theatre magic bullet. Need another fix. See you again final night!
Great show. Much thanks to the cast and everyone involved.
It was a great night. Pushing the boundaries. As always!
One magic bullet after another... Highly Recommended for all hunters and seekers
An enthralling and fantastic show unlike anything I've seen before! Totally recommend this performance of incredibly talented artists.... Music, lighting singing and movement mixed with drama and emotion... you will be transported to another world! Go and see this you will be blown away...I LOVED it!
That was so f...ing good. Seriously good. Congratulations to everyone. Brecht and Weill must be smiling.
Thanks to everyone for providing a truly magical experience. I felt transported to another world from which I've not entirely emerged yet. Haunting in every respect.
It was splendid! I can't recommend this enough. Christchurch get it on.
It was amazing, loved it!
For Devil's sake! What a great show you guys... All of you.. Superb! I'm so excited to have found you.. Looking forward more and more!!!
I had the privilege of seeing this show on Friday -- what a performance. Tremendous cast, staging, direction. We are so lucky to have this kind of talent on offer in Christchurch. Get along to see it if you can.
I strongly recommend everyone in Christchurch to take the opportunity to see this truly magnificent play. German folklore, societal pressure to conform and the destructive power of addiction. My only regret is I am going overseas for the rest of this run otherwise I would join you.
Wish this was coming to Dunedin
The disciplined physicality was especially appealing. Time slowed down so you really think. To listen and think - like city-folk should do. It's amazing to watch bodies express resistance in this way.
Please, please bring this to Auckland!
Awesome show. A must see.
Go and see this show - I thoroughly enjoyed it. Clever, dark, beautiful! Just 3 adjectives ... I have more.
The best thing I've been to since, well, your Frankenstein. Well worth the trip to Chch. Can't wait to see what you come up with next. Much respect.
A shot in the arm for contemporary art in Christchurch. If you like your theatre modern, visually spectacular, smart and sophisticated, then you're not going to find a better example than this in New Zealand - puts the usual twee musical to shame. Simply superb - don't miss it!
Went Sat... Refreshing Off the wall, arthouse musical... so well done ! BRAVO...
It is amazing. Really enjoyed last night.
We had a fantastic night last night. This is a hugely entertaining show and is lots of fun. You guys are amazing!
This was epic - well done Free Theatre. If anyone is in Christchurch - get along to this. Ace......
Thanks for an amazing night. Highly recommend you all see this.....
The best musical theatre I've ever seen in my whole life, right here in Christchurch!!
Thank you Free Theatre for the most amazing evening in every way. You are totally brilliant!
We thoroughly enjoyed the evening and left immensely impressed. Most especially, we were taken with the integration of the action and music, not something we've experienced here, and the truly ensemble nature of the work... the physical and vocal discipline combined with the wonderful set, light and sound created the sense of being immersed in another world... we'd love to return!
I went last night and felt I'd been to the ballet, the orchestra and theatre at once. Immaculately mad. The leaving and settling time has been gentle. From the narrative which I found piercing to the deeper level of representation. Genius. Classic Kiwi moment afterwards where the audience stood around afterwards with the cast- all wanderers. Brilliantly written and brought to life in the most hideously beautiful way. Hat's off to all, Delaney especially.
I hope after tonight you can all take some time for a quiet celebratory ale. It can't be easy pulling these things together, especially in a place that may not completely value what you do or how you make things so complex look so seamless and beautiful. But please let everyone know that you ARE valued and so, so highly... Respect and Aroha.
Absolute magic! From the astounding performances (Emma Johnston is incredible!) to the music and design. It's the complete package. You're so lucky this amazing group resides in the flatlands!
Basically, if you missed this, you missed out on the best damn thing ever. Free Theatre is just a special bunch of cats.
Glad I was there last night! Such a talented group of artists.
An absolute triumph! Well done to all - a remarkable team effort. It is all the more remarkable given how much you do with so little. Not for the first time [we] wonder what you could do if you were afforded the kind of budgets your international-quality work merits and that the Court or Showbiz blow on fluff and bluster. What you provide this city with is real substance, experiences that linger long in the mind and heart. We look forward to the next adventure.
Friday's show is still reverberating around in my skull! I love that about your work! So much talent and courage xx
A quite outstanding grouping of talent. Breathtaking.
That was just sensational! I even left with a rose from a devil 🦌🕵 And, I woke up with a head full of dark thoughts and whiskey. Thank you George, Delaney, Emma and crew for an incredible night! x
"That's the way the cookie crumbles"... "that's the way the market crashes"... "that's the way the bee bumbles"... "if you sell your you, you got no you"... a parable for our times... a bunch of marionettes buying up large in the "big store" - can't see the wood for the trees... please let us know about the Hamlet and Ubu projects - we're hooked.
What an experience! How happy it makes me to see work like that in Christchurch! Not only was it visually exquisite and captivating from beginning to end, but the correlation between the music, the voices, incredible physicality and the intoxicating story was so refreshing. The duet with the aerial work is still playing in my mind! I look forward to seeing much more!
The students loved it! Really, really loved it. They were so excited to see something that was really different and surreal and engaged them. And scared them 😂😳 their words 😊❤️
Tonight I went to see this fantastic Free Theatre production of The Black Rider. This is an AMAZING show - challenging, thoughtful, exciting, funny, clever, scary... so glad I could make it along. Well done and thank you to all those involved!
It is showing for one last night tomorrow night (Friday 1st September) 8pm and The Gym at The Arts Centre. Highly recommended!
Finally managed to see this spectacular show tonight - 2 nights only as part of the Christchurch Arts Festival (which means still a chance to catch it tomorrow night in the Gym at the Arts Centre). This is vintage Free Theatre along with their match made in heaven (or is that hell) conspirator Delaney Davidson. Kudos George, Emma and the cast and crew. That was utterly bang on brilliant!
A note of thanks for last night’s stunning performance of Black Rider. It was absolutely riveting from top to bottom and I could not love it more. Well done to you all - it would be a crime if this show didn’t tour the country. I sincerely wish you all the best with next steps for this.
Thank you so much for your generous hospitality last night – I am still buzzing from the experience of The Black Rider. An amazing script to work with and such talent in all areas – music, performance, production, direction etc just brilliant to say nothing of the commitment of the team. An incredible experience.