About Us

DunsPlayFest is a Festival of professional and community-based theatre-making, and 

new dramatic writing, which takes place over the course of a week at the beginning of 

May each year in the Borders town of Duns. The ‘in person’ Festival is followed by an on-line version. 

 

The DunsPlayFest was established in 2019 by Director John McEwen, with members of 

the Duns Players, a local community theatre group, following a series of development 

workshops with Playwrights Studio Scotland. 

 

In 2022 the DunsPlayFest underwent a further evolution to become a separate 

registered charity (a SCIO), and is run by a local Trustees and voluntary steering group. 

 

The Festival Trustees are: Genny Dixon (Chair) John McEwen (Director 

DunsPlayFest), Jerry Ponder (Treasurer), Linda Gray, Eric Branse-Instone, Lucy Vaughan. 

The DunsPlayFest 2022 is funded by Creative Scotland and a number of trusts and 

foundations to whom we are extremely grateful. (See Sponsors section for the full list of funders).  

The DunsPlayFest 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. 

 

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. 

 

 

We look forward to welcoming you to the DunsPlayFest:  

29 April to 7 May 2022. 

And online from 21 May - 11 June 2022 

 

 

DunsPlayFest - Recent History 

The first DunsPlayFest was held in 2019 in the eastern Scottish Borders town of  

Duns. This was the first of its kind in Scotland, an eight-day celebration of brand-new  

drama packed with play premieres, workshops, cabaret performances, community  

events, concerts, and parties.​  

 

The festival grew out of the happy marriage between the ambitious local theatre  

group, Duns Players (which has forged a considerable reputation for its high-quality  

productions of classics and new Scottish writing), and Playwrights Studio Scotland,  

which in 2017 set up a playwriting workshop in the Borders guided by the award-winning playwright Jules Horne.  

​ 

Out of this workshop emerged several plays which Duns Players decided to stage. 

As plans were formulated, it became clear that other events could  

happily gather around the productions, and so the idea for a festival began to crystallise.  

In 2019, with crucial funding from Creative Scotland and Awards for All, and support 

from organisations and individuals, a committee of volunteers created a live-action festival out of nothing, learning as they went along. 

  

In 2020 due to the pandemic the festival was cancelled in March. An exciting  

programme of plays and events had been created, and it was with great sadness the  

festival committee had to advise artists, event organisers, and the public of cancellation. 

  

In January 2021 preparations were being made for a hybrid festival until the  

fluctuating Covid regulations intervened and DunsPlayFest became an online  

festival. The enforced lockdown restrictions did enable the team to discover that  

online communication can be valuable too and creative solutions can be found to the  

problem of presenting drama online. They were impressed by the various ways in  

which plays were presented in digital format and decided not to lose sight of that  

creativity and inventiveness.  

  

With both manifestations, in person and online having met considerable success  

DunsPlayFest 2022 will be a combination of the best elements of both formats,  

although the focus will be primarily on live performance.  

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