‘Tailor of Inverness’ to play at Curtain Theater beginning tonight

By Alissa Mesibov

“The Tailor of Inverness” – the play selected by participants of the 2010 University of Massachusetts summer Edinburgh study abroad program – will be performed at the Fine Arts Center’s Curtain Theater, beginning tonight.

The play, by Matthew Zajac, tells the story of a boy’s international life journey, beginning in what is now Galicia, Ukraine. His travels take him through Iran, Egypt, northern Africa and Italy, before finally reaching Scotland. During each relocation, the titular tailor has to reinvent himself in order to survive the changing places and times.

Though the play is the story of an individual, the cultural and military history of 20th century Europe is inherently tied into his journey. He comes face to face with the likes of the Nazis and the Soviet Army.

Zajac not only wrote the play, but he also performs the lead titular role. But while Zajac plays the only speaking role, he is not the only character. “The Tailor of Inverness” uses multimedia techniques, spoken word, fiddle music, poetry and physical theater to tell its story.

“The Tailor of Inverness” first appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – the world’s largest theater festival, with over 2,000 productions every August – in 2008, where it won the Scotsman Fringe First award, the main awards of the Festival. It has been performed in Australia, Sweden, Ukraine, Poland and Germany, as well as multiple venues throughout the United Kingdom. To date, the show has been performed over 100 times.

When it returned to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2010, it was viewed by UMass students, participating in an annual trip to the theater.

Every year, UMass takes 14 undergraduate and/or postgraduate students from any United States college to Edinburgh, Scotland for two weeks, where they see and write about shows, participate in talkbacks with the artists and integrate into the vibrant culture of the Festival.

They then select their favorite from the festival, and that show is performed at UMass a year and a half later.

“The Tailor of Inverness” plays at the Curtain Theater tonight through Friday, Feb. 3, every night at 8 p.m. Student and senior tickets are $8, while standard adult tickets are $16 and are available at the Fine Arts Center Box Office or online through the Fine Arts Center website.

The play is part of the “After Festival” events through the UMass Amherst Theater Department and the Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Program. Previous productions to come to UMass through this program include Tim Crouch’s “The Oak Tree” in 2010 and Peggy Shaw’s “MUST: The Inside Story” in 2011. “The Tailor of Inverness” is sponsored by the UMass Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts.

Alissa Mesibov can be reached at [email protected].