October 28, 2009
Bringing a ‘Golem’ to Life
For a scare steeped in Jewish mysticism this Halloween, REDCAT is bringing Paul Wegener’s “The Golem” to the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater on Friday and Saturday night. But the screening of the 1920 silent horror classic, which recounts the Eastern European legend of a large clay figure brought to life to protect the Jews of Prague, will be accompanied by the debut of an improvised musical score by Brian LeBarton.
LeBarton, 30, a keyboardist best known as music director for alternative rocker Beck, will lead a costumed band that includes a cellist and a guest percussionist, Carla Azar of the L.A. band Autolux.
“I’m going to have lots of toys and beastly synths around that night to help make the music sound ancient,” LeBarton said.
The idea for the Halloween screening of “The Golem” came from Mark Murphy, executive director of REDCAT. He says he became fascinated with online articles about Rabbi Loew, the mystic credited with creating the golem legend, when the 400th anniversary of his death was marked in September.
“The golem was known to become active during times of crisis, persecution and tragedy. Recent events, such as the global economic crisis, corporate-backed conservative activism, open racism, anti-Semitism and gay-bashing create an extremely uncomfortable environment,” Murphy said. “When I tried to think of a Halloween-themed event, the idea seemed like a good match between a silent horror film and Brian’s inventive music.”
LeBarton improvised another score for REDCAT in March, when the arts center within the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex screened the 1960s Mexican horror film, “The Curse of the Crying Woman.”
“I’ve been obsessed with the REDCAT for a long time,” LeBarton said. “You go there to experience something shocking or out of the ordinary.”
When LeBarton performs with his costumed band during “The Golem” screenings this weekend, he expects to dress as a ghoul. But that’s just what will be on the surface. Deep inside, as he transforms the theater from modern day to ancient times, LeBarton will be portraying Rabbi Loew, bringing the golem to life, not with clay, but with music.