About Young Critics

Seeing through the eyes of a Young Critic

The Young Critics is a programme of Youth Theatre Ireland. (Formerly NAYD)

Youth Theatre Ireland is the national development organisation for youth theatre. We support a network of youth theatres who deliver year-round programmes of drama workshops and performance opportunities to young people aged 12 – 21 from cities, towns and villages across Ireland.

Established since 1980, Youth Theatre Ireland is unique in its commitment to youth-centered drama practice.  At Youth Theatre Ireland, we know that youth theatre is a place to develop young artists and young citizens and we promote youth drama opportunities that focus on the artistic, personal and social development of young people.


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

The Young Critics continues to be one of Youth Theatre Ireland’s most popular programmes. It is aimed at youth theatre members who are interested in watching, critically discussing and reviewing theatre. Participants come together for at least two residential weekends during the year. The final weekend features the Young Critics Panel; a public discussion forum that takes place in October at the Dublin Theatre Festival.

Young Critics 2018 

The Young Critics spring residential took place from April 6th – 8th in Dublin. The group will meet again from October 5th – 7th as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

Kate Moore from Free Radicals Youth Theatre in Tralee County Kerry reflects on the first residential for Young Critics in April 2018.

Young Critics 2017

The Young Critics International Encounter ran over Easter 2017. Twenty- four young people from across Scotland and Ireland visited Dublin for an extended five day programme in the spring. In a partnership with Youth Theatre Arts Scotland. 


Twelve Irish Young Critics returned for the October leg as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival. 


Young Critics 2016

The Young Critics for 2016 will run from April 22nd – Oct 9th 2016. Full list of participating Youth Theatres are here .

Young Critics 2015


Young Critics visit the Gaiety Theatre for Conor McPherson’s The Night Alive as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2015

The Young Critics ran  from April to October 2015.  With even more productions attended, there was larger increase in video blogs and some excellently written reviews. 


Young Critics Panel. Project Arts Centre, Dublin. Oct 4th 2015. Chaired by Dr. Karen Fricker.

The Young Critics Panel took place in Project Cube on Sunday October 4th at 1pm.


Young Critics 2014

In addition to the two great weekends of theatre, 2014 saw some new innovations to Young Critics. With the support of local venues and arts centres, the Young Critics had the opportunity to see a production in their home venue with their own youth theatre. From here, they each recorded a video blog review and four were invited to write reviews of those productions. Those reviews are available to read here.

The Young Critics Panel took place in Project Cube on Sunday October 5th at 1pm.

Photo Credit: Allen Kiely

Photo Credit: Allen Kiely

Young Critics 2013

There are two different strands to the  Young Critics programme for 2013.  The first strand is the regular Young Critics programme, where 16 young people will come together to watch, discuss and critique theatre over two separate weekends culminating in the Young Critics Panel as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival on October 6th in Project Arts Centre.

The Young Critics Panel at Dublin Theatre Festival

Young Critics 2013 arrive for King Lear at The Abbey Theatre

Young Critics 2013 arrive for King Lear at The Abbey Theatre

In March the group saw two productions. They were:

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

I,Malvolio written and performed by Tim Crouch

International Young Critics

The second part was The Young Critics International Encounter at the Cork Midsummer Festival.

16  young people from Austria, Ireland and Norway took part in weekend Encounter   to learn all about watching and critiquing theatre. They were also out and about at festival events forming  their own opinions and finding out what the audience, thought of some of the productions on offer.  They also hosted a Talking Shop at  the Camden Palace Hotel between 3pm and 5pm on Sunday 23rd June 

At the ‘Talking Shop’ audience members had the chance to find out how festival audiences had been responding; had the opportunity to chat to the Young Critics and were able to observe live recordings of interviews with some of the festival artists.

Members of the Young Critics International encounter interview Festival artists Conor Hanratty, Olwyn Fouéré  and John Heginbotham from Maria De Buenos Aries

Members of the Young Critics International encounter interview Festival artists Conor Hanratty, Olwyn Fouéré and John Heginbotham from Maria De Buenos Aries

The Young Critics International Encounter was  a partnership between NAYD, The Cork Midsummer Festival, The Stamsund International Festival, Norway and Biondekbuhne Youth Theatre, Austria.

This event was part of the Young Creatives strand of the Arts Council of Ireland’s Culture Connects programme for Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

 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

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

Some Feedback from former Young Critics 

‘’The programme has deepened my appreciation for how theatre is made as well as the role of the critic. It has enabled me to express my opinions while taking into consideration the views of others. It has given me an amazing opportunity to see top-class theatre.’’ Young Critic 2014

Young critics was an amazing experience and it was one of the best things I’ve done in youth theatre.’ Young Critic 2014

‘’I found the programme very interesting and and it made me realise that a career in the arts is achievable’’ Young Critic 2014

 ‘’it has given me both the opportunity and the reason to seriously consider what my life would be like if I went down the path of arts in my life.’’ Young Critic 2014

 ‘’I have made many amazing friends I will definitely keep in touch with’’ Young Critic 2014

‘Seeing the plays made me more excited about theatre, it made me want to go see more shows and to experiment in the non-acting elements of theatre when I returned to my own youth theatre.’ Young Critic 2013

[The Young Critics] has improved my ability to watch theatre in a critical manner and my ability to write reviews. I met lovely people and made lots of new friends.’ Young Critic 2013

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