Retired doctor wins playwriting prize

A Berwickshire writer’s reinterpretation of the ‘Leeing Jamie Murdeiston’ Border Tale has won a competition co-run by the Wilson’s Tales Project and Duns Playfest.

Sunday, 4th July 2021, 12:00 pm
Updated Monday, 5th July 2021, 9:31 am
Andrew Ayre and John McEwen present Dr Michael Fenty with his prize. Picture courtesy of C.A.Whinnom.
Andrew Ayre and John McEwen present Dr Michael Fenty with his prize. Picture courtesy of C.A.Whinnom.

Dr Michael Fenty, a retired doctor, was presented with a commemorative artwork based on a 19th Century edition of the original Tales of the Borders book to celebrate his win.

Wilson’s Tales are a series of border stories written by former Berwick Advertiser editor John Mackay Wilson in the 1830s. The tales, many written while Wilson was living in Tweedmouth, were published bi-weekly and they proved to be a runaway success – 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-19 meant those plans had to change.

Michael’s winning 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 premiere I had envisaged,” said Michael.

He added: “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, said: “Many of us have worked before with the Wilson’s Tales Project on these border tales and it has been great to unite in partnership for the festival, particularly given Wilson’s family connection to Duns.”

Andrew Ayre, from the Wilson’s Tales Project, is also keen to repeat the cross-border creative collaboration, saying: “There are some great tales 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 today’s audiences.”

The play can still be watched online via the Duns Playfest website – go to www.dunsplayfest.org.uk

Wilson’s Tales run several events across the year and you can find out more online at www.wilsonstales.co.uk