It all began in 1954 when Duns Players staged its first production, the comedy 'The Happiest Days of Your Life' by John Dighton. The title is borrowed from the old saying that schooldays are the happiest of our lives, and the plot has a strong post-war flavour: Thanks to a bureaucratic bungle, St Swithin’s girls’ school is relocated from its bombed-out premises to Hilary Hall boys' school, with interesting results for pupils, teachers and parents.
'Happiest Days' was followed with a new production a year (sometimes two) until 1969, when falling membership, possibly compounded by a loss of stage audiences to cinema, left Duns Players in temporary suspension.
In 2008, however, help arrived in the shape of actor, musician, writer and man-about-Duns, Bob Noble, who revived the group with a staging of the inimitable 'Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of Macbeth'.
Since then, Duns Players has grown, thrived and branched into ever more adventurous theatrical territory, from Shakespeare to world premieres, from one-act plays to musicals. In 2023, for example, we will be staging at least five separate productions, including 'Colonel Anne' at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
If you would like to find out more about Duns Players or to join us on- or off-stage, please contact us via our Contact Page. We would love to hear from you.
John McEwen, Chair
Eloner Crawford, Secretary
Jerry Ponder, Treasurer
Below: John McEwen playing Siegfried Sassoon in Duns Players' 2022 production of Not About Heroes
2016 Gagarin Way
Dancing at Lughnasa
Blackadder Goes Forth
2017 The Importance of Being Earnest
Broth & Dead Dad Dog
The Importance of Being Earnest at Paxton House
Fire & Ice: Refugee Monologues
2018 Blithe Spirit (and at Paxton House)
Singing I’m No A Billy He’s A Tim (and at The Hippodrome, Eyemouth)
Oh What A Lovely War (with DDAOS)
2019 DunsPlayFest staged three Duns Players’ productions:
Somethin for Nothin by Thomas Clark Better at the Strath by Campbell Hutchison
Margarets by John McEwen.
Also featured was:
The Shortlist by Bob Noble
Colonel Anne by David Shirreff
Turning Tide by Emily Larner
No Regress by Robert Sproul-Cran
First Steps by Anita John.
Play It Again, Tam (three plays from DunsPlayFest) Macbeth
2020 There were no productions in 2020.
2021 DunsPlayFest online festival, which included Duns Players’ Borderlands plays by Craig Knight, Kevin Purvis & Eloner Crawford, Leein’ Jamie, an adaptation of a Wilson’s Tale by Michael Fenty, and Whit like? written and performed by John McEwen.
2022 The Ladykillers
DunsPlayFest included eight Duns Players' works: A Haggle of Witches by Kevin Purvis
Nothing Ever Happens in Duns by Bob Noble Perception by Peter Lerpiniere
Rainbow’s Ending adapted by Eloner Crawford
Borderland Plays by Alex Watson, Linda Gray
& Craig Knight
Look Out by Robert Sproul Cran
Be Still A Man by Michael Fenty
The Freebooter of Coldstream adapted by Anita John.
DunsPlayFest online included You Can’t Always Get What You Want by John McEwen.
Jim Clark the Musical
Not About Heroes
Duns Players' productions 1954 - 2023
1954 The Happiest Days of Your Life
This Was Odd
1955 One Wild Oat
1956 Dear Octopus
1959 Ladies in Retirement
1960 Sailor Beware
1961 Candied Peel
1962 Breath of Spring
1963 The Blue Goose
1964 Night Must Fall
1965 Chiltern Hundreds
1966 Blithe Spirit
1967 Home at Seven
1968 Ghosts and Old Gold
1970s - 2007 Duns Players rests
2008 Bob Nobel revives Duns Players
2009 The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of Macbeth
2009 Murder at the Vicarage
2011 Fawlty Towers
Talking Heads selection
2012 Talking Heads selection on tour
The Tree of Knowledge
Tracey’s Hen Do
2013 More Talking Heads
Steptoe & Son and The Vicar of Dibley
Glengarry Glen Ross
Roll Out The Barrel, incl Dad’s Army
2014 Talking Heads on tour
Vicar of Dibley & Dad's Army
A Reiver’s Carol
We Will Remember Them
It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of our much-loved President, Bob Noble, on Friday 9th June.
Bob was an exceptional person of great character and talent, and he will be very much missed by Duns Players, as well as his many friends, contacts
and, of course, his family.
Duns Players' Chairman, John McEwen, writes:
We are devastated to report that our President, the great Bob Noble, has died. Here pictured in a photo he didn't much like, Bob was a wonderful person, and our hero. He revived Duns Players in the early years of this century and is entirely responsible for the troupe's subsequent success.
As well as his many achievements in the world of farming (for which he received an MBE), Bob was a supremely talented musician, a carpenter of skill and imagination, and an excellent actor.
The many roles he played on the stages of Duns, for Duns Players and Duns & District Amateur Operatic Society in particular, include both Jesus Christ and God Almighty. He was beloved by all. His bravery in many battles against ill health was phenomenal.
This year, in February, Bob made a brilliant job of leading an evening of cabaret entertainment based on his life story and musicianship (see review in News below). In May he provided "Still Nothing Ever Happens in Duns", which proved the greatest hit of DunsPlayFest. He will be missed with immense sadness as well as with astonishment and delight and gratitude from all those who will feel forever blessed to have known such a fellow. The greatest of all Bob's many great achievements was to find Joan who was the only person who could have performed the unique task of being Bob's wife. She is amazing and we send our deepest sympathies to her, Gus and Kirsty and the lovely grandchildren. Bob was a strong believer and we salute him as he continues on his journey. Thanks, Bob, it was great knowing you. Farewell.