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Paulanne Simmons

A Taste of Edinburgh

Christian McKay as Orson Welles

The Best of Edinburgh
The Michael Schimmel Center for the Performing Arts at Pace University
3 Spruce St. at Gold St.
Nov. 5 and 6 and Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 7 and 9 at 7 p.m.
$45, SmartTix (212) 868-4444 or www.smarttix.com

Carol Tambor, whose Theatrical Foundation is bringing “Rosebud “and “Sisters, Such Devoted Sisters,” from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to the Michael Schimmel Center for the Performing Arts at Pace University, says she discovered the festival by chance.

“I found out about the festival many years ago,” she says. “I was visiting Edinburgh and someone said, ‘I hope you’re staying for the festival.’”

Tamber did stay, and she fell in love with what she saw – a huge festival that incorporates not only theater but also film and literature, attended mostly by an enthusiastic local audience.

“It’s amazing to me how few people know about the festival in New York,” Tambor says. She speculates the reason for this may be that the few plays which make it to New York do so by way of London, and often people forget where they were first performed.

After seeing the fringe for many years, Tambor finally decided too many plays were lost. This year she decided to use her own funds to create The Carol Tambor Award: The Best of Edinburgh.

“I was supposed to pick only from among the Fringe First winners, chosen by Scottish theater critics. I chose Rosebud, but then I decided to add Sisters, Such Devoted Sisters even though it was not eligible for the Fringe First award because it had been previously performed in the UK,” she says. “I figured I could break my own rules because I made them.”

Written by the Welsh playwright Mark Jenkins and directed by Josh Richards, Rosebud stars Christian McKay as the brilliant actor/director Orson Welles whose over-reaching ambition led to his eventual failure.

“Jenkins’ language is beautiful. He really shows the seeds of this man’s self-destruction. It’s a very affecting piece about a man who is a genius but cannot control himself,” says. Tambor.

Sisters, Such Devoted Sister is written and performed by Russsell Barr. Set in the seamy Glasgow underworld, it tells the story of drag queen Bernice Hindley, who witnesses a horrible murder that changes her life.

“It’s a very dark view of the transvestite life in Glasgow. We don’t know if it’s autobiographical, but it seems very true,” says Tambor. “It gives insight into another side of a culture we often see portrayed as a partying group. It’s riveting. You feel like you lived it.”

Tambor, who is a painter with a studio in New York City, is an avid fan of the theater. But she’s often felt something was missing from the New York theater scene.

“I love theater,” she says. “It’s always been a great passion of mine. I felt that the quality of theater in New York could be raised. There’s a tremendous amount of reworked mainstream theater that is not particularly challenging. Now that I’ve started producing, I know why they do it. Everyone’s afraid they’re going to lose their shirts.”

Fortunately, Tambor seems to have gotten over that fear. [Simmons]

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