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. 

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