The Young Critics Are Coming



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

About NAYD Young Critics

The Young Critics is a programme of the National Association for Youth Drama (NAYD)  in Ireland.

NAYD is the development organisation for youth theatre and youth drama in Ireland. NAYD supports youth drama in practice and policy, and supports the sustained development of youth theatres in Ireland.

NAYD advocates the inherent value and the unique relationship between young people and theatre as an artform, and is committed to extending and enhancing young people’s understanding of theatre and raising the artistic standards of youth theatre across the country.

The Young Critics Programme is part of NAYD’s commitment to developing youth theatre members’ awareness and appreciation of the aesthetic of theatre.

The Young Critics Programme brings youth theatre members together to:

  • attend workshops in the critique of professional theatre;
  • attend professional performances at leading Irish festivals;
  • give their own critiques of the performances at the Young Critics Panel.

Young Critics 2014

Photo Credit: Allen Kiely

NAYD Young Critics 2014 at Dublin Theatre Festival Oct 5th, Project Arts Centre

2014 saw several new strands to the Young Critics programme. As well as our two weekends attending theatre in Dublin,the Young Critics also progammed a theatre trip to their local venue. From here they recorded a video blog review and several were invited to write written reviews.

The reviews can be read here 

This was a really great dimension to the Young Critics progarmme and one that allowed even more young people have the Young Critics experience.

This year the Young Critics went to see:

Quietly by Owen McCafferty at the Peacock

An Ideal Husband at The Gate Theatre

Frequency 783 (Brokentalkers) at Project Arts Centre

The Seagull and Other Birds ( Pan Pan) at Project Arts Centre

Ganesh Versus The Third Reich (Back to Back Theatre) at O’Reilly Theatre

The self programmed shows during the summer included Heartbreak House at the Abbey, Fishamble’s Swing, Ballyturk, Lambo, [Title of Show] at New Theatre.

Young Critics 2013

There are two separate strands to Young Critics 2013.  The first strand are the Young Critics who meet for the two sessions over the year. This group met for the first time in March. On this weekend they were brought to see two productions. They were

I Malvolio , written  and performed by Tim Crouch at the Peacock Theatre

King Lear by William Shakespeare directed by Selina Cartmell at the Abbey Theatre.

This group will come together again in October to view and discuss work as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival at the Young Critics Panel


Young Critics 2013 arrive for King Lear at The Abbey Theatre

Young Critics 2013 arrive for King Lear at The Abbey Theatre


The second strand of the programme was The Young Critics International Encounter / Talking Shop

This strand involved a different group of young people aged 14-16 coming together to watch and discuss work as part of the Cork Midsummer Festival. This group was made up of 9 young people from across Ireland, 4 from BiondekBühne  Youth Theatre, Baden in Austria and 5 from Stamsund in the Lofoten Islands in Norway.


This group explored two different but complimentary models of working, that of the Young Critics alongside the Talking Shop Model.

International Young Critics

Young Critics 2012

Young Critics 2012

In 2012  we were delighted to announce an expanded Young Critics programme. In addition to two weekends in Dublin, participants would also attend  performances at the Cork Midsummer Festival.

The dates and locations are:

  • April 13-15, Dublin
  • June 22-24, Cork Midsummer Festival
  • October 5-7, Dublin Theatre Festival
NAYD Young Critics at Dublin Theatre Festival 2012

NAYD Young Critics at Dublin Theatre Festival 2012


Participants will attend at least eight performances while on the programme. They will also participate in workshops and discussions with international theatre critic Dr. Karen Fricker and Alan King, NAYD’s Youth Theatre Officer. The final weekend in Dublin will feature the Young Critics Panel, a public panel discussion, organised as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

It is an exciting opportunity for youth theatre members with an interest in theatre criticism. To quote a Young Critic from last year:

It has opened up a whole new world of different types of theatre, and different ways of looking at theatre.

The programme is open to members, aged 16 or over, from NAYD affiliated youth theatres. Participation is free of charge: the cost of travel, accommodation and food is covered.

The Young Critics Panel takes the form of a public discussion forum and has taken place in October for the last number of years, as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

In this blog the Young Critics will be sharing their views on not only the productions they have seen but also their experiences of the whole Young Critics programme

Alan King

Youth Theatre Office