Dogstar Theatre announces productions for spring tour

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Dogstar continues to carry the tradition of Scottish touring theatre in 2019, travelling to remote village halls and town theatres with two outstanding works from the Highlands, reflecting the company’s determination to celebrate the universal in the particular, the international in the local with art which connects us all.

The two new productions follow 2018’s Scottish-Swedish success, Morna Pearson’s Let’s Inherit The Earth, which has been invited to the prestigious 2019 Almedalen Festival of Politics in Sweden this July, and the second revival of the company’s 2016 Scottish-Danish success, Mungo Park – Travels in the Interior of Africa, which played at the 2018 Leeuwarden European Capital of Culture in the Netherlands in September.

The Tailor of Inverness

Marking the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mateusz Zajac, The Tailor of Inverness, the universally acclaimed international hit play, will tour Scotland for the sixth time during April and May.  This great cry for refugees, for Europe and for those affected by war everywhere, will open its tour just days after Britain’s expected exit from the European Union.

The Tailor of Inverness is one of the most widely travelled and highly praised Scottish theatre productions of the last decade.  It premiered at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms in 2008 and was an instant success. Since then it has been performed worldwide from Australia to New York. Awards for the production include The Stage Award for Best Solo Performer 2008, Scotsman Fringe First, Holden Street Theatres Award and Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland Best Actor 2009 (Matthew Zajac).

Wherever it has been seen the play has evoked extraordinarily enthusiastic reactions, touring Scotland five times, Ukraine, Sweden and Ireland twice, Denmark, Wales, Poland, Germany, Australia and the USA, including selling out for three weeks at Manhattan’s 59E59 Theatres’ Brits Off Broadway Festival.

Inspired by the life of Matthew Zajac’s father, it is the story of a boy who grew up on a farm in Galicia (Eastern Poland, now Western Ukraine) and became a tailor in Inverness, of how a life and an identity can be reconstructed.  The tailor’s life spanned most of the 20th century and the journey he took was made by thousands of Poles during the Second World War. His was a forced migration across many borders, subject to the brutal vagaries of war.

The book of The Tailor of Inverness by Matthew Zajac is printed by Sandstone Press and Circling A Fox – the Story of The Tailor of Inverness, Brian Ross’s documentary produced by Hopscotch Films is completed and awaits release.

The Stornoway Way

Kevin MacNeil’s 2005 debut novel was hailed by The Scotsman as ‘The best Scottish book since Trainspotting…full of wisdom, jokes, poetic language and mind-burning imagery’, and a Herald book of the year ‘whose honest bleakness is outdone by its sheer good humour and energy’ (Ali Smith).  The Independent described it as ‘a novel of consistently hilarious verbal invention’.

MacNeil is currently writing his stage version, which he sees as a development from the novel, and a more mature and inclusive take on his earlier work.

The Stornoway Way is a romantic tragicomedy about alcoholic young drifters on the Isle of Lewis. These are characters who are outcast from, yet inescapably part of their Hebridean culture, whether they are physically there or not, on the margins of the margin.  They leave and return, struggling with their identity and their alienation from both society and each other, searching for love as a path to salvation.

Written in English with some Gaelic, the production will have a cast of three young actors, directed by Matthew Zajac.  Live and recorded music and sound, composed and designed by Pippa Murphy, will play an important role. At times, the actors will include the audience in the storytelling, inviting us to be part of this poetic, provocative and funny ceilidh play.

Kevin was born and raised on the Isle of Lewis. As poet, novelist, aphorist, lyricist, screenwriter and playwright, his books include The Brilliant & Forever (Birlinn), A Method Actor’s Guide to Jekyll and Hyde (Polygon), The Stornoway Way (Penguin), Love and Zen in the Outer Hebrides (Canongate), Be Wise Be Otherwise (Canongate).

His short stories have been published extensively. His first book won the Tivoli Europa Giovani International Poetry Prize for best poetry collection published in Europe by a writer under 35.

MacNeil was the inaugural Iain Crichton Smith Bilingual Writing Fellow and has held further prestigious writing residencies in Sweden (Uppsala University), Bavaria (Villa Concordia) and a number of other places. He currently teaches Creative Writing at Stirling University.