Duns Players is a non-professional group creating excellent theatre through the sharing and development of performance and production skills.
Welcome to the website of Duns Players. Here you'll find information about our past shows and, more importantly, future events and auditions.
Duns is a small town in the Scottish Borders with a population of around 2,500 souls. However, despite this humble background, we've established a reputation for thinking big.
Jim Clark the Musical – world premiere in Duns sold out!
Tickets sold out for all three nights of Duns Players’ latest production: Jim Clark the Musical at Duns Volunteer Hall on May 26 to 28th.
Written by Alex Watson, with music by Mike Hardy, the show starred Matthew Foster as Jim, Stuart Faed as Jim’s friend and early mentor, Ian Scott Watson, and Eric Branse-Instone as Colin Chapman, the Lotus boss whose cars helped Jim become twice World Champion and Indy 500 winner during the 1960s.
Jim’s long-term girlfriend was played by Queen Margaret University drama student Erin Kyles, while Duns Players Chairman, John McEwen, distinguished himself in several roles, including a laconic Roy Plomley during a scene featuring Jim’s appearance on Desert Island Disks in 1964.
The show was attended by several members of the extended Clark family, while the real Ian Scott Watson, now 92, the guest of honour one evening, described it as “bloody good”.
The real Ian Scott Watson, 92, loved Jim Clark the Musical. Here he is with members of the cast. Left to right: Eric Branse-Instone (Colin Chapman), Matthew Foster (Jim), Stuart Faed (Ian Scott Watson), Beverly Garden (Mechanic, Chorus) and Craig Knight (Lotus Chief Mechanic, Jim Edruweit).
The Festival is based in the Volunteer Hall in Duns, which is transformed for the Festival by local artists (Allanbank Arts) into a unique space for performances, with two stages, a Cafe / Bar area, and a Production base. Various other venues around Duns are used, including the grounds of Duns Castle, to ensure the Festival atmosphere can be widely experienced.
To find out details of the lineup for this year’s DunsPlayFest, and to book tickets, click here:
The DunsPlayFest was established in 2019 by Director John McEwen, with members of the Duns Players following a series of development workshops with Playwrights’ Studio Scotland. The PlayFest is rooted in the local community and our strategic partners are A Heart for Duns, and the Duns Players, with support from local businesses, including Duns Castle.
In 2022 the DunsPlayFest underwent a further evolution to become a separate registered charity (a SCIO) and is run by local Trustees and a voluntary steering group.
The DunsPlayFest 2022 is funded by Creative Scotland and a number of trusts and foundations to whom we are extremely grateful.
We look forward to welcoming you to the DunsPlayFest.
Duns Players AGM 2014
Tuesday August 5th at 7.30pm in the Black Bull upstairs.
Present: Bob Noble, Nigel Warren, John Schofield, Peter Lerpiniere, Tracy Hay, Helen Forsyth, Eloner Crawford, Dougal Affleck
Apologies: John McEwen, Hannah Hay, Emma Taylor, DC, Lynn Gray.
Genny Dixon, Jerry Ponder, Matty Taylor. Shirley Redpath,
Minutes of the Last AGM
The minutes were agreed
There were no matters arising.
The Chair Persons report
Looking back at the past year, I see a year of changes, of new enterprises of expanding horizons and steps forward.
Within weeks of last year’s AGM, members of Duns Players were taking to the hills. Far away from the snug comfort of the Volly Hall, we became ghosts and soldiers and storytellers, reliving the history of our Border predecessors performing outdoors as part of the 500th anniversary of the battle of Flodden.
However, it’s never been a Players habit – at least in recent years – to only have one project on the go, and even as some of the performers tramped down from the Lammermuirs, their thoughts were already somewhere else: A seedy Real Estate office in 1970s America.
Glengarry, Glen Ross was in some ways the most challenging piece that we’ve ever staged. Certainly, it challenged those of us who performed it. It also challenged the audience and their expectations of what a Duns Players performance could be. I’ll be honest, there were fears that we couldn’t rise to that challenge but somehow, from somewhere deep in our psyches, we found those dark places and brought them out. And the audience that we did get, loved it. Glengarry, Glen Ross was a stand-out production and we can all be very proud of it.
Another regular feature of the Players’ calendar has been the Armistice Day production. After two years of serious pieces, both with a Royal Air Force theme, this year we rang the changes with a comedy and the Army – sort of – staging an episode of Dad’s Army within a wider 1940’s cabaret themed evening. Perhaps next year, it should be the turn of the Royal Navy?
Riding high on the reception that we had for one superb piece of writing and an excellent production, we turned to another. Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads had served us well on to previous occasions and, when we decided to once more step outside our comfort zone, it was the perfect vehicle to take on tour.
We played in village halls across Berwickshire, each night slightly different to the night before, but always to an enthusiastic reception. Performers and stage crew all learned a lot and I hope that going ‘on tour’ will be a feature of future years.
However, not everything went our way this year. Our spring production was slated to be Dinnerladies by Victoria Wood. Eager anticipation turned to bitter disappointment when it became clear that we would not be able to obtain the performing rights. Again, I hope that this is one that the Players will keep ‘in the back pocket’ for future consideration.
With Dinnerladies cleared from the table, our thoughts turned back to another classic that had already gone down a storm. Dad’s Army must be one of the most popular creations from the BBC in the past 50 years, and we thought we’d have some of that. But one episode was too short. So why not team it with something from a more recent generation? The Vicar of Dibley had been hugely popular when placed the previous year with Steptoe and Son so it was an easy choice to bring it back. And once again, we played to full houses.
Traditions can set firm roots in a small community such as Duns and after three years of the Players putting on a production for the opening night of the Summer Festival, it was expected that this year would be just the same. However, we had a small problem. Our esteemed Life President, Mr. Bob Noble, had made it clear that the Tracy trilogy was enough and there would be no Tracy IV! But we had started our own tradition of using a local writer, so why not extend the idea and ask other budding authors to contribute a piece on the topic of the forthcoming referendum. Plans to take round the pubs of the town had to be scaled back – with hindsight perhaps that was a step too far – but the small audience who did get to see the final pieces had a real treat.
There was to be another small disappointment, production wise, before the end of this year. We had planned to put on the beautiful Brian Friel piece, Dancing at Lughnassa. Scripts were bought, rehearsals planned and auditions were underway when, once again, we discovered that the rights were not to be made available. Dissapointing, but we look forward to the replacement, Ladies Day, with much anticipation.
Finally, before turning away from productions, I’d just like to note that such was the level of activity this year that we were not able to have any evenings of readings. I think this slightly sad, as they were a way of bringing the society together in a social atmosphere without too much of the hard work that goes into our major productions. I hope the new committee will think about reinstating them.
There is one other area I feel it appropriate to mention. This year we have taken bold steps toward improving ourselves as performers. In this we have been greatly helped by a generous grant from the BBC; a grant to bring in professionals who will help us with the craft of being performers. This is a huge step forward and I hope everyone associated with the players will make the most of this opportunity.
Finally, you may have noticed that, with one minor exception, I haven’t mentioned anyone by name. One of the best things about Duns Players is the willingness of virtually everyone to do as much as they can to make a production a success. Am-Dram is a hobby notorious for the prima-donna. Thankfully, Duns Players seems to have purged this unwelcome trait from our society. You are all stars and it has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with and represent you as your chair. Thank you.
The Treasurers Report
Peter presented the treasurers report and there were no questions.
He noted that we agreed we would donate 5% of our turnover (ticket and bar sales only) to Heart for Duns. This will need to be agreed at the first meeting.
John proposed that four members join the committee and it was agreed. Shirley Redpath, Dougal Affleck, John McEwen, Hannah Hay were duly elected.
Three members stood down.
Alex Watson, John Schofield, Helen Forsyth.
Peter was elected as Chair and it was unanimously agreed.
The secretary will be elected at the first meeting. The meeting date will be agreed but may be the second Tuesday of the month.
Comments from the President
Bob urged the chair to delegate tasks and committee members to share the roles. Bob also asked that Helen share the mailing list and suggested we had more newsletters. Bob felt despite the changes and challenges Duns Players are going to go on and do great things.
There was a vote of thanks for the outgoing chair and secretary
The next meeting of the committee will be on September 9th at 7.30pm in the Black Bull.