These are the 2021 Young Critics

This year’s Young Critics have been working together online since April 10th. They have already participated in three out of ten workshops between now and October.

They will watching and talking about digital theatre under the mentorship of Dr. Karen Fricker in Toronto and our own Alan King in Dublin.

We welcomed 20 young people onto the programme this year, expanding the group from the usual 16 places.

We are especially delighted to welcome Young Critics from recently affiliated POD, Dreamstuff and UCC Youth Theatres, who will have members on the programme for the very first time.

The Young Critics for 2021 are:

Chloe Anderson, Dreamstuff YT, Co.Kilkenny

Aleisha Archer Making Waves YT, Greystones, Co. Wicklow

Sean Buckley, Complex YT, Dublin

Sarah Carolan, Explore YT, Leixlip, Co. Kildare

Aodhán Collins, POD YT, Virginia, Co. Cavan

Eoin Davy, Making Waves YT, Greystones, Co. Wicklow

Ella Gittens, Kilkenny Youth Theatre

Pádraig Harrington, Rusty Frog YT, Skibbereen, Co. Cork

Evie Howard, WACT YT, Co. Wexford

Anna Lynch, Backstage YT, Longford

Colm McAuliffe, Free Radicals Youth Theatre, Tralee, Co.Kerry

Amany McKevitt, Dublin YT

Avery Mulholland, M.A.D. YT, Dundalk, Co. Louth

Ali Murphy, Lightbulb YT, Mallow, Co. Cork

Ciara O’Driscoll, UCC YT, Cork

Éabha Phelan, Celbridge Youth Drama, Co. Kildare

Kai Ryan, Griese YT, Co. Kildare

Holly Thomson, Droichead YT, Drogheda, Co. Louth

Jasmine Walsh, Co. Limerick YT

Ciara Whelan WACT YT, Co. Wexford

This is our second year of running a fully online programme and offers the Young Critics an opportunity to connect, see some amazing digital theatre, voice their opinions and makes new friends along the way.

You can find out more about Youth Theatre Ireland’s Young Critics Programme here.

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


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.


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. 

Ulysses at the Abbey Theatre – Young Critic Review by Pippa Molony

It’s been a busy few months since the Young Critics last met in April as they have been honing their critical skills while seeing shows up and down the country.

With the Dublin Theatre Festival looming over the horizon, we reflect on some of the productions the Young Critics saw over the summer.

To whet your appetite for festival season, Young Critic Pippa Molony gives us this epic review of Ulysses at the Abbey Theatre

Elsewhere our Young Critics saw Pat Kinevane’s Silent, The Aspirations of Daise Morrow at the Black Box Theatre Galway, Asking for It and Wet Paint at the Everyman Cork, Mamma Mia on the West End, A Doll’s House at the Roscommon Arts Centre and the Deadly Wizard of Oz in Dundalk.

 We will be announcing the Young Critics picks for the Dublin Theatre Festival very soon along with details of the Panel discussion itself.

Pippa Molony is a member of Dublin Youth Theatre and a Youth Theatre Ireland Young Critic for 2018.



Young Critics International Exchange by Luke Murphy

Creative Commons is a 2-year project funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme.  It provides Youth Theatre Ireland and  Youth Theatre Arts Scotland, our sister organisation in Scotland, with the opportunity to share best practice across sectors and build new resources in Young Critics practice and Young Leader mentorship and skills development.

The Young Critics International Exchange brought 24 together from Ireland and Scotland for five days in Dublin. During the Easter holidays, the group took part in workshops and saw a number of professional productions at theatres across the city.

Luke Murphy from Lightbulb Youth Theatre in Mallow, Co. Cork was selected to take part in the programme.

Here Luke reflects on those five days in Dublin. 

“Youth Theatre Ireland’s Young Critics International Exchange  2017 was a fantastic experience that both provided skills in forming critical opinions on theatre, as well as exploring the different means of doing so. What resulted was five enjoyable days in Dublin city.


Young Critics Aaron Dobson (L) and Luke Murphy (R)

Arriving at the GPO, I met up with 13 other Irish youth theatre members, as well as some of the staff from Youth Theatre Ireland. Immediately I was faced with a whole group of friendly people who seemed just as excited for the week’s events as I was. We travelled to the Marino Institute, which was where our workshops and accommodation were located. Upon arriving, we met an additional ten youth theatre members from Scotland. This were all members of  groups affiliated to Youth Theatre Arts Scotland. One of the things that impressed me the most about the experience was how well everyone got along, and how quickly friendships formed.


Theatre Critic Gareth Vile workshops with the Young Critics

Of course, the workshops were a great way of achieving this. We would each get our own time to express opinions of the various productions we saw, as well as what we were expecting prior to the performances. I found that discussing theatre can be just as exciting as watching it live. It was incredible to see the different perspectives from which people approached the shows we saw. The best thing about the workshops, was how they felt at the same time both a focused discussion on a piece of theatre, and a casual chat about a play.

The shows in question were The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Silent, and The Train. I think overall everyone enjoyed the productions, whether it was viewing them or discussing their reactions afterwards. The plays were very diverse in themes and style, from one man shows to musicals. This allowed us to review different types of theatre, and the elements that these consisted of.


Theatre Critic Karen Fricker (L) listens on as the Young Critics give their opinions

We were guided by a professional group of leaders, who each had their own experience in theatre. They helped us structure reviews, and explore modes of reviewing other than writing, for example vlogging and podcasts. They were very friendly and approachable, accepting questions on how to improve our own skills.

Each day held a new experience. The workshops were unique, each focusing on particular skills crucial to a critic. We also had the chance to explore parts of Dublin city, and enter some of the most famous theatres in the country, such as The Abbey and The Gaiety. I’d never been to any of these theatres before, so getting to see productions in them was a great experience.


Luke Murphy and fellow Young Critics enjoying some social time in Dublin

I can genuinely say the I made great friends and memories at Young Critics 2017 and I hope to continue the experience in the months to come, between discussing theatre online, and meeting up with the other young critics once again at the Dublin Theatre Festival. I am delighted to be involved in this project, and it has really peaked my interest in theatre, as well as how to critique it.”


The 24 Young Critics from across Ireland and Scotland at the Abbey Theatre


Luke and his fellow young critics will be seeing some shows at their local venues over the summer. They will be making critical responses and we will be posting a selection of them here over the coming months.  You can follow the exploits of the Scottish Young Critics here 





Critique Diplomatique- A Young Critics Review

One of NAYD’S Young Critics from 2015, Thomas Caffrey, has written this very insightful review of one our shows from last year.

Droichead Youth Theatre Online

Drum roll please! Having had his skills finely tuned over the course of two intense weekends of NAYD’s Young Critics bootcamp, Thomas Caffrey returns with his review of the spaceadelic epic, Corps Diplomatiques, seen in the Project Arts Centre at this year’s Dublin theatre festival.

H.P. Lovecraft died in March, 1937. The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was unleashed upon the world in 1967. In 1997 Kula Shaker’s seminal Summer Sun EP ushered in a new era of woozy psychedelia. Corps Diplomatiques begins in the year 2027. Performed by an ensemble of French actors headed by the enigmatic Halory Goerger, Les Corps Diplomatiques offers us an invitation into the eyes of madness with no escape in sight. Appearing as the final performance of the Young Critics 2015 programme, Les Corps Diplomatique starts off with an intriguing concept; if we did meet aliens, how would we communicate? The answer…

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NAYD Young Critics and Arts in Junior Cycle 2013-2016

Back in 2013 NAYD was approached by Seóna Ni Bhriain from the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon. They were looking at existing models of engagement that could help Junior Cycle students have a greater understanding of, and participation in the Arts. NAYD’s Young Critics was recognised as a model of excellence and became part of the Performing Arts Learning Service (PALS) PALS initiative.

The PALS Pilot initiative took place in the run up to the Dublin Theatre Festival in 2013. Here a group of teachers experienced the Young Critics programmes themselves, taking part in workshops, seeing several productions and attending the Young Critic Forum at Project Arts Centre. The workshops were designed and facilitated by Alan King and Sarah Fitzgibbon. Several teachers who could not make the Forum in Dublin were able to participate via a live stream. The programme was co-ordinated by  Seóna Ni Bhriain, with IT support by Deborah Dignam.


NAYD Young Critics 2013. Chaired by Dr. Karen Fricker


The Arts in Junior Cycle emerged as part of a joint pilot initiative of the Department of Education and Skills Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) and the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon. It was developed in the context of the introduction of the new Framework for Junior Cycle in 2014, and the  Performing Arts Learning Service (PALS) Feasibility Study commissioned by the Arts Council. The initiative is based on partnership and collaboration with key partners across the arts and education sectors. NAYD is one of these key partners.

Arts in Junior Cycle aims to support teachers and students to engage with the arts as an integrated part of the post-primary curriculum in Ireland.

In 2014 a suite of four different workshops were developed and rolled out nationwide. They were Page to Stage, Film in Focus ,  Speaking Shakespeare and Young Critics. Each was designed and delivered by highly respected arts facilitators. They were assisted and supported by group of dedicated teachers from the JCT support team, under the brilliant co-ordination of Karol Sadlier.


Junior Cycle teachers take part in their first ever Young Critics Workshop. March 2014


The response from the teachers was phenomenal. They could see how our models of working could be adapted with their students in a classroom setting. For the Young Critics, the workshops conveyed the notion that theatre was a living breathing thing and not just words on a page. For students this is often a huge barrier to cross in their understanding and enjoyment of theatre.

Following the success of these two programmes we are looking forward to working with the JCT team again later in the year.


To keep up to date with developments in Arts in Junior Cycle, you can visit their great website here, which also has lots of great resources for drama.

National Association of Youth Drama’s Young Critics Program

Thomas Caffrey from Droichead YT reviews Luck Just Kissed You Hello and The Night Alive as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2015

Droichead Youth Theatre Online

Thomas Caffrey is back. And this time it’s theatrical. This is part one of his account of his trek into the dense and treacherous jungle of modern Irish Theatre with this year’s NAYD Young Critics Panel. Read on… If you dare.

So we returned yet again, our task set, our resolves in check. Dissemble theatre internally, build it back together inside the eye of our minds and see if it all comes crashing down like an unbalanced game of jenga. The weekend got off to an impeccable start; anything that begins with missing maths class can hardly be faulted. Meeting outside of the GPO, we had an extremely brief reunion followed by a swift trip to the Project Arts Centre, where we devoured some sandwiches mercilessly and took part in a preparatory workshop during which we unpacked and set out our collective expectations of the three performances we would be…

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