Small town has big drama plans as festival returns

A Berwickshire town is setting out to prove that you can never have too much drama – or play readings, theatre workshops, live music, film, dance, cabaret, poetry, storytelling – all packed into nine days of frenetic creative activity.
DunsPlayFest includes a chicken-themed Western in Duns Public Park.DunsPlayFest includes a chicken-themed Western in Duns Public Park.
DunsPlayFest includes a chicken-themed Western in Duns Public Park.

Duns is bracing itself for the April 28 opening of its annual PlayFest, a five-year-old extravaganza that has doubled in size over the past 12 months to total more than 60 different stage shows.

The DunsPlayFest 2023 programme, part-funded by Creative Scotland, ranges from historical plays, comedies, youth theatre and free entertainment for children to new works on challenging themes such as refugees, bereavement, dementia and mental health.

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Professional actors and theatre companies will rub shoulders with community drama groups, local high school and primary school pupils and drama students from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

The most expensive ticket is £10 and many of the events are free.

Festival director and founder, local playwright John McEwen, said, “Outdoors, we’ve got a free family day with stilt walkers and fairies at Duns Castle (thanks to Marchmont Makers Foundation), plus a chicken-themed Western in Duns Public Park.

“Each day of DunsPlayFest has a different theme. For instance, our Day for Heart & Heid on Friday, May 5 will include ‘Sing for Wellbeing’, a Sound Bath, and a gentle movement session.

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“The town’s Volunteer Hall will be transformed into a magical festival hub with two stages, a bar, hot food, workshop space and break-out areas with sofas for chatting and relaxing. We’re even running a free screening of the King’s Coronation on Saturday, May 6.”

For more information about the festival, email [email protected] or go to

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