Committee Minutes

Duns Players AGM 2014

Posted on: Saturday, August 16th, 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

Matters Arising

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.

Minutes of Duns Players Committee Meeting: 10th June 2014

Posted on: Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Held at 7.30. Black Bull Hotel, Duns.

Eloner, Bob Noble, Nigel Warren, Peter, Helen F

Apologies Alex, Gerry, DC and Hannah, Tracy, John,

The minutes were accepted as a true record.
The event with John McEwen was attended by 20 people and went well.
Peter didn’t contact the pubs as told not to.

Following some discussion of a selection of plays read by Eloner and Peter we decided on the replacement for Replacement for Dancing at Lughasa:

Ladies Day by Amanda Whittington

The cast is four women and one man. It is funny and moving.
Peter will do read through on June17th and audition the following week. Hannah will assist him and the rehearsals will start in late July following Peters return from holiday.

Pieces for Reivers week.

The writers have written their pieces. It was agreed to cancel volunteer hall for Sunday night July 6th and we have booked the Black Bull upstairs.
Peter will organise and give John as a package to do and John will play Pete’s part in John McEwen’s piece. John will do poster. Peter is in Toulouse.
Pete will cancel volunteer hall.

Directors course.

Noone can make that week so we have asked the conservatoire if they might do it. Those interested are John McEwen, Lynn Gray, Hannah, Peter, Alex Watney and Helen and John. Helen will let others know and see if we can ensure we have at a minimum 8 attendees and a maximum of 14.

Armistice Day.

We decided a reading night for armistice, and a montage of images. John McEwen to be asked to coordinate the writing material. We would encourage the use of music, costumed pieces, and perhaps the last episode of Blackadder as a reading. Eloner will work with John M on this. We will need DC to help us.

Ian Ballantyne’s feedback on staging at Volunteer Hall.

Eloner explained that Ian suggested a wide and very deep stage at the bottom of the hall. We would be required to buy new staging and this might be cheaper than adding extra pieces of our present staging. If we get the structure we wanted for Duns Players and it would go round make a proscenium arch but it could move around the hall wherever you want it. Also it was envisaged that a later date, cost allowing, black curtains could be hung down the hall in the future.

Genny Patrick and Jim and Andrew were there. Everyone was very enthusiastic and felt this would help. The first layout was 10k.

Split between three groups… The proposal was 4k from Duns Players which is beyond us at present but we suggest that we ask Wind farm for 5k and we spread the cost between the rest of us. We proposed in the meantime we offer 2k but ask the opera to put up 3k and us 1k this year and then pay them 1k next year. Elloner to talk to Heart for Duns and Helen is to ask for loan from opera of 1k. But the question was asked should we spend this if there is no support from SBC re the retaining of the volunteer hall. How the Heart for Duns decides to move forward is crucial.

New committee members.

Helen and John will stand down due to leaving the area.

Helen will contact the following players to ask them to consider strengthening the committee: John Mcewen, Kate Lester, Christine Sclater, Shirley Redpath and Mike and Celia Hedderwick. The AGM is on August 5th and we booked the black bull for the meeting.

There will be a date for a reading night in August at Boston Court and Peter will organise.

The Readings evening on Anniversaries will be on 17th October and Helen is to book White Swann and to liaise with Arthur.

Update from Heart for Duns

The MOD and SBC have given different messages about their commitment to the hall. SBC have been asked to honour their promise of a sliding scale of costs. There seems to be a bit of a stale mate as SBC are very quiet. We will keep abreast of events. We need to consider whether we need to donate further money to A Heart for Duns next year.


Helen briefed the players about Sister Act which the Opera will perform next April. Singing rehearsals will start in October and a voice coach is already booked to work with singers then.

Peter suggested we plan for next year now. And he suggested Oscar Wilde for next year. It was agreed to discuss this at the next meeting.

Also should we do play readings once a month for anyone who wants to come. This will be an agenda item for next meeting to consider and plan.

We did not agree the date for the next meeting. But we have booked July 8th. Peter gave his apologies.

Minutes of Duns Players October 1st 2013

Posted on: Monday, October 21st, 2013

Held at 7.30 pm in the Black Bull pub.

Present: Peter Lerpiniere Tracy Hay Matty Taylor Helen Forsyth, John Schofield (late), Jerry Ponder Alex Watson, Bob Noble, DC. Apologies Eloner Crawford

1. Minutes of meeting on September 3rd agreed.

2. Matters Arising:

Ian Ballantyne helped us with the sound system and Bob sent him some wine to say thank you.

3. Directors report:

Glengarry Glen Ross went very well. It made a loss but we had some excellent feedback. We discussed whether we could take it to the festival. We know we could lose a lot of money so we are unsure whether to take this forward. It may be considered in the future.

The voice Coach was not a success. It was a good idea, but the person did not deliver. We were glad to see new faces in the audience but also disappointed that some of the regulars who might have enjoyed it didn’t come. We may have overplayed the swearing? Everyone felt it was an excellent production and an amazing learning experience.

4. Wind Farm Grant application:

To date we have spent £2,000 on lights and we have a £1,000 outstanding. We need to discuss lighting stands. DC and Bob will look into this together. Press release for wind farm. Programme had a thank you. John had asked Simon to mention it in the review but will put in a press release for next week. JS.

5. Dads army:

Peter is directing Lady Godiva episode. There are 13 men and 3 women. He will check the episode when it arrives before letting his chosen cast know.
Alex suggested we theme the food around the characters in Dads Army.

The school may be available to do the music for opening of the evening and maybe for some of the show. Songs are now in place for Lynne and the Andrews Sisters. Peter is looking for a singing coach for the girls. We need a harmony arrangement. Alex suggested Karen Thomas. Peter will contact her. Peter asked for some money upfront for the cooking of the ration book supper. They will seek decor and bottles that are period. Looking for £500 for this and uniforms will be £200- £300. He wants to ensure that the feel of the 40s will be really authentic.

Jerry presented his report. There is £7051.09 (minus £500 for Dads Army), in the bank at present. We have made several hundred pounds loss on Glengarry Glen Ross but not a disproportionate amount.

6. Alan Bennett evening:

Tracy to book 7.30pm in each venue and we provide the bar.

Coldstream 23rd
Greenlaw 1st March
Duns 28th February
St Abbs 22nd
Allanton 27th

7. Spring Production:

Dinner Ladies and Porridge subject to rights being available for Porridge, this is yet to be confirmed. The Volly Hall booked

Autumn Production:

Yet to be decided,

Helen still trying to get Cameron Mabon and John Schofield together to discuss working with the High School. She will pursue this.

Peter suggested that Heart of Duns have no income and so we considered should we contribute to their work? Should we donate regularly. We give a percentage of our annual turnover. We agreed that we will give 5% of our annual turnover ( approx £500.00) John and Andrew Lester to discuss. It is not a commitment but will depend on our cashflow and success.

Mike Stephenson suggested a new tone to our website and Peter, John and Helen have seen it. John would like more people to distribute it more widely. He based it on our discussions with him. Helen to widen it and to get some feedback. The website will be hosted in a new place. John to meet Mike Stevenson.

Membership: Jerry said not all players on stage at Glengarry Glen Ross had paid their membership. Jerry will put names on a list who have paid. Directors of Plays will then pursue performers (all performers whether speaking or not) to pay their dues. Jerry needs it for NODA insurance. Jerry to send Helen list of people who need to pay from Glengarry Glen Ross. HF to pursue those people.

8. Any other business:

Peter: John O’Kane offered to sponsor Duns Players. Especially difficult plays that are not likely to cover the cost.

Peter to contact John re what he might be interested in sponsoring.

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