We are Young Critics 2012- that is, sixteen teenagers involved in youth theatres from all corners of the country, from Donegal to Cork city itself. We are brought together for one purpose: to appreciate and critique theatre.
The young critics programme is now in its eighth year, and I am delighted to be a part of it. What’s more is that this year I am lucky enough to be invited to attend three weekends of exciting theatre-going and workshops, not just one.
The National Association for Youth Drama is not of the opinion that young people should be seen and not heard- quite the opposite. There is a strong sense of freedom of thought and of expression engrained in NAYD. The voices of young people are valued and respected. Although our first weekend together in Dublin was just a little over 48 hours, we all definitely connected with one another. There is nothing like sharing in joy, and there is no doubt that drama is a joy of each and every one of us!
I am thrilled to be attending Cork Midsummer Festival, and the line-up Alan King (NAYD’s youth theatre officer) has prepared for us looks superb. From Rian on Friday night, dazzling dance with music by Liam Ó Maonlaí, to a Saturday afternoon performance of the mysterious Parallel Cities, a site specific piece presenting different perspectives on a city and on life. This is followed by Dylan Tighe’s Record and yet another late night visit to Parallel Cities: House.
What I love about my experience so far in the Young Critics programme is that it contrasts with and contributes to my experience with youth theatre beautifully, a place where I am so used to being and creating the performance, not the audience. Dr. Karen Fricker enlightened me greatly on how to truly watch theatre, to absorb every single element of the production; sound, lighting, acting, direction, etc., to ask questions of the production and of myself; why did that actor just do that? Why did that scene appear so rushed to me? I learned to research a production before going to see it, and to take notes no matter how dark the theatre may be!
The weekend in Dublin broadened my mind to a world of critical thinking; something that I find lacking a bit in the Irish educational system and something that makes society grow and improve. I very much look forward to the Cork Midsummer Festival where I will no doubt be blown away by the talent we possess in this little island. I relish in once again meeting with my fellow theatre lovers and enter a world of magic, of emotion, of captivating performance- of art.
Keep an eye on the twittersphere where we will be giving our opinion over the weekend. #Corkmidsummer #youngcritics
Madi O’ Carroll, County Wexford Youth Theatre