Local retired Doctor wins playwriting prize.

 Local retired Doctor wins playwriting prize.

Berwickshire writer, Dr Michael Fenty’s reinterpretation of the “Leein’ Jamie Murdeiston” Border Tale has won the competition co-run by the Wilson’s Tales Project and Duns Playfest. This week he was presented with a commemorative artwork based on an 19th C. edition of the orginal Wilsons’s   to celebrate his win.  

Wilson’s Tales are a series of border stories written by Berwick Advertiser editor John McKay Wilson in the 1830s. The tales, many written while Wilson was living in Tweedmouth, were published by Wilson as a free standing weekly publication, which proved a run away success and they were then seldom out of print for the next 150 years. 

The Wilson’s Tales Project partnered with Duns Playfest, the annual drama festival, to present a competition for playwrights to reinterpret one of Wilson’s Tales. Part of the prize was intended to be a public performance of the winning submission, but inevitably, Covid meant those plans had to change. 

Michael’s wining work had to be premiered online. Instead of performing on stage in the Duns Players’ usual venue, The Volunteer Hall, it was filmed on a freezing day in Polwarth Church. “Not quite the premier I had envisaged ” said Michael,  adding, “While I’m amazed at what we managed to do in such difficult conditions, I’d still love to  put the play on live, as I wrote it with audience participation in mind, which, obviously we couldn’t do in a filmed version.” 

John McEwen, of Duns Playfest, commented “ Many of us have worked before with the Wilsons tales project on these border tales and it great to have a more formal arrangement of partnership for the festival, particularly given Wilson’s connection to Duns” (His father was from Duns) Andrew Ayre, from The Wilson’s Tales is also keen to repeat the cross-border creative collaboration, saying .  “There are some great tale’s in this body of work and it is wonderful that new  eyes are looking at these and presenting the tales in new and exciting ways for todays audiences”  

The play can still be watched online via the Duns Playfest website. Duns Playfest intends to return to in person performances in 2022, and you can find out more at www.dunsplayfest.org.uk/  

Wilson’s Tales run several events across the year: you can find out more at www.wilsonstales.co.uk/  or buy books featuring selected stories illustrated by local artists from the website of Grieves’ bookshop in Berwick. 

Andrew Ayre and John McEwen present Michael Fenty with his prize outside John McKay Wilson’s former office , Berwick. 

Radio Rooms to host Wilson’s Event July 2nd

Wilson’s Tales return home to Tweedmouth after 200 years. 


Local writer, John MacKay Wilson would be proud to know that almost 200 years after he originally wrote his Tales of the Borders, his stories will come to life on stage at The Radio Rooms in his native Tweedmouth this week.

Forming part of The Radio Rooms’ “Journey Through Genres” programme, on Friday 2nd July The Wilson’s Tales Project will present an evening of music and drama inspired by some of the hundreds of stories that were published in the 1830s.

Joe Lang and Jackie Kaines Lang will give a light-hearted retelling of “Grizel Cochrane: a Tale of Tweedmouth Muir”, complete with a touch of Covid-secure audience participation. Musicians Eilidh Campbell, Iain Petrie and Carol Whinnom will perform traditional and new songs and ballads inspired by the tales and their setting in the Borders.

The evening is the first in The Radio Rooms’ programme “A Journey Through Genres,” a series of twelve events showcasing different musical genres and featuring local performers. Supported by the Arts Council Grassroots Live Music, free tickets are available for people aged between 16 and 21 on application to The Radio Rooms.

“It is wonderful to bring MacKay’s tales back to his home in Tweedmouth,” said Andrew Ayre of The Wilson’s Tales Project. “He is buried in Tweedmouth Parish Churchyard, which is very near to The Radio Rooms, so he’d almost be able to hear what we’ll be doing on Friday evening. I wonder what he’d make of the venue’s name, though, as the radio wasn’t invented for almost a century after he wrote the stories!”

Tickets are available in advance at www.radiorooms.co.uk . The event is on Friday 2nd July at 6pm, at The Radio Rooms, 95, Main Street, Tweedmouth, TD15 2AW