Warhorse- Reviewed by Dylan Gallagher

The 2020 iteration of Young Critics, has like most events globally, been deeply affected by the COVID19 pandemic. So instead of bringing our group to Dublin for their first weekend together in April, we will be running a selection of their initial reviews.

These reviews were submitted as part of their Young Critics application. As such, they represent the first steps on their Young Critics journey. We hope you enjoy them.

 

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Credit: National Theatre

Next up, Dylan Gallagher, from Leitrim Youth Theatre Company Carrick On Shannon reviews The National Theatre’s Production of Warhorse. This production toured to the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in April 2019.

 

 

 

Dylan Gallagher is a member of Leitrim Youth Theatre Company – Carrick On Shannon and one of Youth Theatre Ireland’s Young Critics for 2020.

Dylan has been in Carrick-on-Shannon youth theatre for 3 years now. Joining Youth theatre was a surprise his parents organised for him, as they knew he had a huge interest in acting from a young age. In his first year of youth theatre, He played the main protagonist of Terry Dumpton in The terrible fate of Humpty Dumpty.

During this time he has done many workshops on improvisation, acting and poetry. Dylan kept practising these skills such as poetry and reached the All Ireland semi-final of Poetry Aloud. In the second year of drama, Carrick-on-Shannon youth theatre was selected to go to Playshare 2019 where they performed Beetroot By Lucy Montague Moffatt. He played the role of Mike, the local bully. Throughout the year Carrick-on-Shannon youth theatre had many workshops with other drama facilitators of local drama groups, here Dylan learned many new skills from the different areas they specialized in. The same year Dylan tried out a new programme called the creative arts group. Dylan learned a new creative skill each week such as storytelling, scriptwriting, lighting and sound. This year he is playing the role of the magician in All Out and Over by Christina Matthews.

Dylan has been a YouTuber for over a year now. He usually posts gaming clips but is hoping to start recording short sketches and upload them to his channel. He also streams on twitch where he uses games to create roleplay scenes and tell stories.

He is planning on launching a podcast on Spotify in the near future where he will talk about a range of different topics from ghost stories to teen news.

He’s hoping Young Critics will help with his Leaving Cert comparative study. He will learn how to compare shows to a high standard. It will also help him to be able to voice his opinions which he will use online and offline.

Youth Theatre Ireland Announce ‘Young Critics Online’

To celebrate the announcement of the 2020 panel of Young Critics, Youth Theatre Ireland presents Young Critics Online for young people aged 16 and over. You can enter by sending a review of a performance you have seen recently or of a performance that you view online.

Youth Theatre Ireland Announce ‘Young Critics Online’

 

Youth Theatre Ireland urges young people who would like to try their hand at reviewing to send in a written, video or audio review. Three selected reviews will be published on the Young Critics Blog and one reviewer will get to attend the Young Critics panel at Dublin Theatre Festival in October, plus 2 tickets to a show of the winners choice at the Festival. Full details of how to make a submission can be found here.

Announcing Young Critics Online, Youth Theatre Ireland’s Director, Michelle Carew said, “Given the surge in availability of high-quality online theatre in response to COVID-19, this is a great time to offer a taster of the Young Critics programme to young theatre lovers across the country. We want this to be fun, and would urge young people to be as inventive in their critical responses as they can.”

Currently companies around the world, from Broadway to Londons West End, to the Royal Shakespeare Company and Irish National Opera, are making their content available to watch online for free, so there are lots of performances from which to choose.

For tools to help you with your review check out the resources at youngcritics.eu. These resources are designed to support young people in developing their understanding of theatre and their abilities as theatre critics. Developed by the Youth Theatre team and the respected theatre critic Karen Fricker, all content here has been further enhanced through a partnership with Youth Theatre Arts Scotland, with inputs from Scottish practitioners and young people. Both young people and practitioners can interact with a variety of content including video, animations, downloadable workshop plans, review samples and tips from the experts.

Youth Theatre Ireland has delivered a Young Critics Programme for well over a decade to hundreds of young people. Selected reviews will be announced at YouthTheatre.ie and social media channels. Closing date is 30 April at 5pm.

For more information and to apply, download the Young Critics Online Submission Form here.

This initiative is open to all young people aged 16+,* who are resident of the Republic of Ireland. You do not have to be a member of a Youth Theatre Ireland affiliated youth theatre.

*Not open to current or former Young Critics.

Howie The Rookie – A Review by Heather Jones

The 2020 iteration of Young Critics, has like most events globally, been deeply affected by the COVID19 pandemic. So instead of bringing our group to Dublin for their first weekend together in April, we will be running a selection of their initial reviews.

These reviews were submitted as part of their Young Critics application. As such, they represent the first steps on their Young Critics journey. We hope you enjoy them.

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First up, Young Critic Heather Jones from Giant Wolf Youth Theatre reviews Howie The Rookie at the Civic Theatre in Tallaght. Presented by Glass Mask Theatre as part of a national tour, this review contains ***MAJOR SPOILERS*** for Howie The Rookie.

This delightfully emotional, witty, thought-provoking play by Mark O’Rowe is truly a sight to behold.

The play centres on two dual monologues – delivered by our main characters ‘the Howie Lee’ (Stephen Jones) and ‘the Rookie Lee’ (Rex Ryan), some of Ireland’s most exciting actors – taking the audience on an adventure of two individuals fighting for survival and meaning against a Dublin City pulsing with violence.

Some of the truly incredible elements of the show come in the form of delivery, lighting and sound design and its conspiracy ending.

The delivery by each actor is truly miraculous. The authenticity and immersive-ness of the performance allows for the play to envelop the audience in all elements of the plot, themes and believability of the characters. Even the delivery of the play’s major twists and turns are done so with ease by Jones and Rex. The physicality and recall of these extraordinary actors is unbelievable as well and is certainly commendable, admired and one of the most memorable attributes of the show.

But an actor can only be as good as their tools, and in this case the writing for this theatrical piece is remarkable. The play is structured in two acts, with each act as one monologue delivered by their respective character – Act One saw the ‘larger than life’, the Howie Lee, as the storyteller with Act Two, looking toward ‘the playboy’, the Rookie Lee, to pick up the torch. With each act capping in at nearly 50 minutes, the performances of Jones and Ryan are looked on with awe and admiration by their audience.

The lighting and sound design are other elements that resulted in such an incredible play. Due to set design – or lack thereof, with nothing but an empty stage for the actors to play with – every flicker of light or hum of a note was noticed by the eagle-eyed and elephant-eared viewer. All lighting arrangements were easily recognisable and clearly helped to establish the setting in the face-paced, ever-evolving story. Even the subtle music cues of soft filler music or cheesy love songs aided in the telling of a sensual, emotional story.

Finally, the mysterious ending. This is where the debate begins. What? That’s all I can say about it. Theories range from ‘he’s obviously dead’ to ‘it’s all in his head’. Regardless of what it all means, it truly is an intriguing ending. It is one that sticks with an audience as we are left to ponder and theorise, making the play memorable. For me personally, I would have liked a little more detail or sense of what it meant – as my friends and I were left flabbergasted and longed to know what the heck we had just seen. It definitely took a turn that both no one expected or understood.

Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the play and would encourage everyone to go and see it – but be warned, prepare to leave the theatre wondering what just happened.

Heather Jones is a member of Giant Wolf Youth Theatre and one of Youth Theatre Ireland’s Young Critics for 2020.

Heather has been a member of Giant Wolf Youth Theatre for just over a year.

She has loved every second of this experience and learned so much about herself and theatre as a whole. She has been involved in physical theatre, movement, stage combat, writing and general production workshops within her time in Giant Wolf. They, as a theatre, have done one major production called ‘Eggplant’, centred around teenage sexual relationships, sexual maturity and sexual education. She has participated in a European Youth Theatre Festival called ‘Intertwined’ in Cottbus, Germany.

Heather would love to gain more expertise and understanding of theatre from the Young Critics Programme. Having in-depth discussions is something she loves to do and getting to have those discussions on plays and theatre is like a dream come true for me. She’d love to become an actor or something within the world of drama when she’s older too and feels this programme will benefit her greatly.

She would also love to make new friends to last me a lifetime also. Getting to meet like-minded people who share common interests is always exciting and seldom seen. And seeing a few shows for free doesn’t sound too bad either.

Introducing  Youth Theatre Ireland’s Young Critics 2020

The response to Youth Theatre Ireland’s call out for Young Critics this year was phenomenal. We received 45 applications from youth theatres all across the country. The standard of application was exceptionally high and we were lucky to be able to select 16 young people with a broad range of youth theatre experiences.

 

We are delighted to announce our cohort of Young Critics for 2020.

They are:

Sinead Barry, Lightbulb Youth Theatre, Mallow, Co. Cork.

Cathal Brace, Griese Youth Theatre, Co. Kildare.

Marc Cheevers, Explore Youth Theatre, Co. Kildare.

Sarah Cooney McCann, M.A.D. Youth Theatre, Dundalk, Co. Louth.

Emma Corrigan, Monaghan Youth Theatre.

Harry Eaves, Mr. Sands Youth Theatre, Bray, Co. Wicklow.

Dylan Gallagher, Leitrim Youth Theatre Company Carrick On Shannon.

Heather Jones, Giant Wolf Youth Theatre, Tallaght, Dublin.

Katie Lacey- Curtis, Making Waves Youth Theatre, Greystones, Co. Wicklow

Caitlyn Morrissey, Co. Wexford Youth Theatre.

Ellie O’Connell, Activate Youth Theatre, Cork.

Lórcan O’Shea, Kildare Youth Theatre. 

Ruairí Phelan, Dublin Youth Theatre.

Mairead Phelan, Free Radicals Youth Theatre, Tralee, Co. Kerry.

Killian Reid, Backstage Youth Theatre, Longford

Kai Ryan, Griese Youth Theatre, Co. Kildare.

We’re especially delighted to welcome members from three of our most recently affiliated youth theatres; Mr. Sands, Giant Wolf and Making Waves Youth Theatres, who will have members participating on Young Critics for the very first time.

In light of the current health emergency with COVID19, we’ve had to suspend our annual first meet up of the Young Critics in April. We hope to bring the group together later in the summer and then back again for the Young Critics Panel in October as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

We’d like to thank all the young people who applied, and all the youth theatres who supported their applications.

In the meantime, we will be introducing you to our young critics and publishing a selection of the critical responses across the Young Critics blog.

First up we have Heather Jones from Giant Wolf Youth Theatre based at the Civic Theatre in Tallaght. You can read her very insightful review of Howie The Rookie here on the Young Critics Blog.

The Cat Laughs by Fern Kealy

Last May Kilkenny native Fern Kealy spent two days immersed at The Cat Laughs Comedy Festival. She shares her thoughts on two very different experiences on offer in The Marble City.

Day 1- Crowman

On the 30th of May 2019, I had the pleasure of seeing Crowman in the Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny. On its promotional material, this one-man show, written and directed by Katie Holly was described as “hilarious dark comedy”.

Jon Kenny played the role of Dan, a man living alone in rural Ireland who goes to funerals as social events. However, when he turns on the radio one day, he is shocked to hear that Sheila, a woman he loved has passed away. We watch Jon Kenny slip in and out of several characters as he reflects on his memories of Sheila. It is the interruption of the much-hated crows which brings him back to reality, due to a traumatic childhood experience involving them.

Throughout the play, Dan speaks to his unseen dog Pup. This device is cleverly used to change the subject or make small talk.

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The fact that there is only one actor in this play emphasises how lonely Dan is, and this is further shown as Pup is always off stage. It was quite moving and poignant to see his loneliness portrayed in this way.

Initially, I felt detached from this play. It was as though I didn’t have much in common with Dan, and whilst of course, Dan is different to myself I definitely related to his emotions as expressed and his way of dealing with things.  In a recent interview, Jon Kenny said that “there was a little bit of Dan in all of us” and I think this is why many people would identify with and enjoy some aspect of this play, as it deals with many topics including loneliness.

This was a very intimate play and I felt that as I attended it in a relatively large theatre it maybe wasn’t as moving as it could have been if it were performed in a smaller space.  That said, I still found the piece a very touching experience.

The play was resolved beautifully with a definite ending that I thought suited very well and tied up the drama. I left the theatre with a lot to think about and discuss, but at the same time didn’t feel burdened or overwhelmed.

I would recommend this play, as it is quite honest in portraying loneliness and a feeling of lost opportunity.

Crowman is currently touring Ireland through 2020.

Day 2- The Bear Pack Improv

The following day, I had the pleasure of seeing The Bear Pack perform in The Village
Inn. The Bear Pack are an improv duo from Sydney, comprising of Steen Raskopoulos and Carlo Ritchie. The improvised show was inspired by suggestions from the audience and accompanied by Ange Lavoipierre on the cello. The duo also facilitated a workshop earlier that day which I attended.

During this workshop we participated in different exercises including an improvised “radio show” and creating an advertisement in two minutes, then a minute and a half, gradually reducing the time until we were just given the product and some other information by another group and went straight into the ad, without preparation.

I generally haven’t been very comfortable with improvisation mainly due to overthinking or shutting down any ideas as soon as they come to mind, but I found that the workshop helped me to get out of my comfort zone and improve my ability to think on my feet. During the improvisation of the advertisements, Raskopoulos and Ritchie encouraged us to say “yes, excellent!” no matter what was suggested, increasing the confidence of the participants and encouraging them to keep contributing ideas.

I later found that many of the techniques the duo taught us were used throughout the performance and it was interesting to see them put into practice so well.

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Back on stage, later that night, the show was an hour of enjoyable, hilarious, light-hearted comedy. The duo’s wit and improvisational skills were outstanding. I was amazed by their ability to keep the plot going so smoothly and also the physical animation of the acting. The improvised cello mirrored the story very well and added to the atmosphere of the performance through the use of sustained notes and eerie scales. I found that as an audience member it was exciting that all of their shows were completely different. This performance ended up being about the Olympics, a story about a father who was a famous runner, wanting his son to follow in his footsteps, but his son wanted to walk!

Due to the nature of improvisation, some loose strings weren’t tied up, so at the end, the actors allowed 10 minutes for the audience to ask any questions they had. They would then act out a solution or ending to the part in question.

I thoroughly enjoyed this show, which was described as “the highlight of The Cat Laughs”, and also the workshop, which was very insightful, enjoyable and helpful for anyone who would like to work on getting more comfortable with improvisation. I would highly recommend The Bear Pack for an evening of light, comedic theatre and a good laugh.

Fern’s participation in the workshop and ticket for the show was free of charge.

Fern Kealy is a member of Kilkenny Youth Theatre and a Young Critic for 2019 

 

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Panel Two. Kevin Alyward, Fern Kealy, Maebh Bartley, Adam Dwyer & Óisin Tiernan

Podcast- Young Critics Panel Discussion 2019

The 2019 Young Critics met on Sunday Oct 13th at Project Arts Centre, Dublin, to discuss three shows as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

Listen to the full panel discussion here:

 

 

 

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Panel One. L-R, Sean Loughrey, Grace Sheehan, Clodagh Boyce, Aisling O’Leary

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Panel Two, Kevin Alyward, Fern Kealy, Maebh Bartley, Adam Dwyer & Óisin Tiernan

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Panel Three, Ruth Corrigan, Jessie Flynn, Sinead Mooney, Jeanette Michalopoulou & Susie Murphy Dooley

Fern Kealy talks about her Young Critics Experience with Youth Theatre Ireland

Fern Kealy is one of Youth Theatre Ireland’s Young Critics for 2019.

Fern recalls an action-packed first weekend spent with fellow Young Critics in Dublin from April 12-14th.

Fern Kealy  is a member of Kilkenny Youth Theatre 

Our Young Critics 2019 are:

Kevin Aylward- Limerick Youth Theatre

Maeve Bartley – Co.Limerick Youth Theatre

Clodagh Boyce- Dublin Youth Theatre

Ruth Corrigan – Mayo Youth Theatre

Susie Dooley – County Carlow Youth Theatre

Adam Dwyer – County Carlow Youth Theatre

Leah Farrell – Backstage Youth Theatre, Longford

Jesse Flynn – Dublin Youth Theatre

Fern Kealy – Kilkenny Youth Theatre 

Seán Loughrey – Droichead Youth Theatre, Drogheda, Co.Louth

Jeanette Michalopoulou – Sligo Youth Theatre

Sinéad Mooney – Kildare Youth Theatre

Aisling O’Leary –Act Out Youth Theatre, Navan, Co.Meath

Grace Sheehan – Activate Youth Theatre, Cork

Holly Roynane –Act Out Youth Theatre, Navan, Co.Meath

Oisín Tiernan – WACT Youth Theatre, Wexford

Young Critics 2019- Applications Now Closed

Young Critics is one of Youth Theatre Ireland’s most popular and innovative programmes. Over a six-month period, participants will see some incredible shows, make new friends and learn about the art of theatre criticism.

 

 

It is open to youth theatre members who are interested in watching theatre, discovering how and why theatre is made, and learning how to critically discuss, analyse, and review theatre.

During the programme, young people are given an opportunity to see quality productions while developing their critical skills under the mentorship of international theatre critic and academic, Dr. Karen Fricker, and Youth Theatre Ireland’s own Alan King.

This year the programme will include a particular focus on engaging with different forms of criticism. These will include writing reviews and developing blogs, making podcasts, creating video blogs, and much more.

Young critics has helped make new friends, learn to express my opinions, gave me insight to lots of different types of theatre and gave me the tools to voice my critiques in a number of ways. – Young Critic 2018

WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE YOUNG CRITICS?

The Young Critics will first meet in Dublin from Friday April 12th to Sunday April 14th and again from October 11th – 13th. Over the two weekends the Young Critics will attend at least four theatre productions, and participate in workshops and discussions, facilitated by the mentors.

In October, the group will meet up in Dublin again to see further productions, take part in more workshops and participate in a public panel event as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

In between the two residential weekends, the Young Critics will have the opportunity to see other productions and make critical responses through the use of digital technology.

The Young Critics will be supported by our professional mentors through workshops, tutorials and online support forums.

HOW DO I APPLY TO TAKE PART IN YOUNG CRITICS?

Applications are now closed.

Participation in the programme is totally free: accommodation, meals, theatre tickets and travel costs are covered by Youth Theatre Ireland.

It is open to youth theatre members who will be aged 16 – 20 by April 1st 2019. We are looking for young people who are comfortable meeting new people, working in a highly focused way and are willing to share their thoughts and opinions with each other. A love of theatre and an enthusiasm for engaging with digital tools are a bonus.

We will provide you with all the skills and tools needed to take part fully in the programme. To be a Young Critic you must be fully available for both weekends. You must also be available to take part in online discussions and see some theatre shows yourself between the two residentials.

Youth Theatre Ireland will have welfare leaders in place on both weekends to ensure the wellbeing and safety of all participants.

In order to offer individual advice and guidance on developing each young person’s critical skills, places on the programme are limited to a maximum of 16.

Please visit the Young Critics Resource Suite for lots of hints and tips on running a Young Critics Programme and creating critical responses.