Call Out for The Young Critics Programme 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

 What is The Young Critics Programme?

The Young Critics Programme is now in its incredible eleventh year. One of NAYD’s most popular programmes, 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.

Along the way they will see some incredible shows, make new friends and learn about the art of theatre criticism.

This is a very exciting programme and one where young people are given an opportunity to see quality productions, while developing their critical skills in a safe and encouraging atmosphere. This will allow them to develop their own critical voice and express their views in a confidant and knowledgeable way.

There are only sixteen places available to youth theatre members from affiliated youth theatres around Ireland. If you are in any way interested, we would encourage you to apply.


The Young Critics will meet in Dublin from Friday April 25th to Sunday 27th for the first time and again in October. Over the two weekends the Young Critics will attend at least four theatre productions, and participate in workshops and discussions with leading international theatre critic and academic, Dr Karen Fricker and Alan King, NAYD Youth Theatre Officer.

The group meet again in October to see further productions, take part in more workshops and participate in a public panel discussion. In between the two residential weekends, the Young Critics will be encouraged and supported to go and see other local productions, write some reviews and contribute to the Young Critics blog.



How do I apply to take part in Young Critics?

Participation in the programme is free: accommodation, food, theatre tickets and travel costs are covered by NAYD.

It is open to NAYD affiliated youth theatre members who will be aged 16 or over on April 1st 2014.

To be a Young Critic you must be fully available for both weekends.

NAYD will have welfare leaders in place all weekend to ensure the wellbeing and safety of all participants.

If you are interested in the programme, please fill out the application and consent forms fully and return to:

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 by Monday April 7th 2014.


Watch some former Young Critics Talk about the Young Critics Programme.


Theatre Critics of Wales Awards 2014: Selecting the Best Playwright in the English Language Category

Some insight on the recent Theatre Critics of Wales Awards 2014: Selecting the Best Playwright in the English Language Category

A Young Critics Blog

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Theatre Critics of Wales Awards 2014: Selecting the Best Playwright in the English Language Category

by Phil Morris

The Wales Arts Review readily acknowledges the importance of Guy O’Donnell’s development work with young and ‘third-age’ critics, through his Bridgend-based projects, as we believe that creativity thrives and standards of practice improve in a climate of informed critical debate. We have also proudly supported the Theatre Critics of Wales Awards, which Guy and the Young Critics founded last year, as a forum that brings a welcome focus to recent exciting developments in the Welsh performing arts.

There are those who criticise awards events as exercises in mutual backslapping and marketing, those for whom the very notion of judging artistic work is too highly subjective and reductive. The language of awards categories is unhelpful here – can it really be said that one play is objectively better than others? Of course not…

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‘We sure ain’t in Cork anymore, Toto’ – The Young Critics Come to the Dublin Theatre Festival

Jess Richter from Lightbulb Youth Theatre in Mallow, Co Cork shares her thoughts on the Young Critics programme and unveils the productions we will be going to see as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival 

“Excuse me, do you know where the GPO is, please?” I may as well have asked what planet I was on. “We sure ain’t in Cork anymore, Toto.” Ironically, the GPO is the place in which I and 15 of my fellow comrades met in March, to be introduced to a new planet; the World of Critiquing.

Introductions were made, roommates allotted, and it was straight down to business. We began with a workshop, to get energy and creativity flowing, and discussed what we had researched about the plays we were about to see. I, Malvolio, written and performed by award-winning playwright and actor Tim Crouch; and the Abbey Theatre’s King Lear- both Shakespearian, both beyond my everyday comfort zone.

I expected professionalism, I expected to be awed. What I did not expect, was to be blown from one extreme to the other: crying tears of laughter at I, Malvolio; and those of devastation for King Lear, played by Owen Roe.

Under the guidance of Alan King, NAYD’s youth theatre officer, and Dr. Karen Fricker; we began to learn to critique. We discussed what we liked, what we disliked, directors influence, standard of acting; we began asking new, deranged questions like; “What was the relevance of nuditiy in this piece?” We began to have the courage to voice our opinions.

What I found most interesting was reading the reviews written by professional critics, of shows that we had seen ourselves. While reading an article on the Abbey Theatre’s ‘King Lear’ on the train home, I felt as if my head had been lifted from its shallow cultural trough, for the first time.

Now, in under a fortnight, I am blessed to be returning to the genuine capital, from October 4th to 6th to watch and discuss three productions as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

For this  weekend filled with theatrical enlightenment;  I will be joined with only 14 fellow young crtiics this time.   The 16th member, Alice Murphy, is cast in I’ve To Mind Her a play by Shaun Dunne, which we will be critiquing (no pressure, Alice).


We will also see Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett, along with Ground and Floor, by Toshiki Okada; a Japanese production with English subtitles.  Needless to say, our expectations are skyhigh, and I expect that even these will be surpassed.

I look forward with eager anticipation to the Young Critic Panel, where we can discuss our views with the public at the Project Arts Centre, Templebar.

The Young Critics programme has given me the opportunity to look at a whole new level of theatre. It has broadened my horizons, leaving me hungry for new plays, shows and productions. It has thought me to voice my opinions; that mine are just as important as those of any professional critic. It has introduced me a new kind of writing, a new lease of creativity, and to some truly terrific people.

And as if that all wasn’t enough; it has shown me how to find the GPO.

The Young Critics Panel discussion will take place in Project Arts Centre at 1pm on Sunday Oct 6th. This is a free event and tickets can be reserved from Dublin Theatre Festival Box Office 

Young Critics March 2013 by Saoirse Anton

When I found out that I had been chosen to take part in the NAYD Young Critics weekend, I was over the moon!
For the two weeks before the weekend,I could talk of nothing else. On some occasions, the anticipation of an event is more exciting than the event itself but this was certainly not the case with this weekend! From the comical moment as myself and Niamh walked past the GPO staring at, ( and being stared at by) another member of the group as we tried to ascertain whether or not they were part of the Young Critics then eventually decided they were and joined them, I knew it would be a fun weekend!

Young Critics arrive at Abbey Theatre for King Lear

Young Critics arrive at Abbey Theatre for King Lear

The weekend was a non-stop whirlwind of activity. We leapt straight in on the Friday evening with a three hour workshop which introduced us to the programme and to each other.

Then on the Saturday, we were up bright and early, despite the busy day before, ready for another workshop followed by “I, Malvolio” and “King Lear”. I had been looking forward to the productions immensely and they were every bit as good as I expected, better in fact!

That Saturday was one of the best experiences I have ever had in theatre. The plays made me laugh, cry, think and wonder throughout. It was also was the busiest day, we met Karen, prepared to see the plays ran for buses desperately trying to extract change from our bags, saw two brilliant pieces
of theatre, scribbled surreptitiously in our notebooks, chatted, laughed and munched our way through a scrumptious dinner at Luigi Malone’s!

After that whirlwind of a day, we settled down in the common room at Marino to eat some supper, discuss our day and play cards and other games, we even asked to have our curfew extended. This was an example of how great the weekend was, normally, if you had that busy a day you would want to tumble into bed and go straight to sleep but we just wanted the day to go on and on!

The Young Critics discuss King Lear

The Young Critics discuss King Lear

The next morning, we had our last workshop where we critiqued the plays with Alan and Karen. It was a really interesting workshop as we found out all of the different opinions and ideas everyone had about the plays.

After that, we had to catch our last bus (cue another mad dash to the bus stop with suitcases, change and laughs flying in all directions!) and go home.

I would have loved the weekend to last longer but I suppose I have to be content with the thought of our next one in October (six months away, such a long time!)

The Young Critics weekend was a fun-filled, fascinating, fantastic weekend where I learnt lots, made 14 new friends, (I already new Niamh), and had the time of my life!

Saoirse is a member of Laois Youth Theatre

Dublin Theatre Festival. Young Critics 2012 – Sarah Mc Goohan

6 days. It is how long I have spent so far with my fellow Young Critics. 6 days. It is how long until myself and 15 other buzzing young theatre lovers are spoiled with an action packed weekend of good quality theatre, analytical discussion and guaranteed enjoyment. From the 5th to the 7th of October the Young Critics Programme, led by Alan King (NAYD’s youth theatre officer) and Dr. Karen Fricker, will hold their third and final residential weekend of 2012 as a part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.
I eagerly await next weekend with anticipation as from researching the line up of plays that we will be seeing and critiquing, I think it is going to be one of the best weekends so far which I can’t believe I’m saying after experiencing the wonderful Cork Midsummer Festival in June and prior to that, our weekend in Dublin in early April. Over the course of the three days we will be seeing three shows: Shibari by Gary Duggan presented by The Abbey Theatre, DruidMurphy- Plays by Tom Murphy : A Whistle in the Dark and The Wooster Group – Hamlet by William Shakespeare.
From tapping our feet to the music of Liam Ó Maonlaí and dancing on stage with the performers of ‘Rian’ in Cork Opera House, subtly taking over a shopping mall as part of Parallel Cities site specific Saturday afternoon show, Dylan Tighe’s emotionally provocative ‘Record’ and yet another late night visit to Parallel Cities: ‘House’, sitting down to relish in some straight drama like ‘Hamlet’ or ‘A Whistle in the Dark’ will contrast just beautifully.
Something that we, as 16 young critics, will be experiencing this weekend is publically discussing our feelings and opinions on what we have seen, heard, liked, loved or disliked at our public panel discussion on Sunday, October 7th at Project Arts Centre, Temple Bar. Both Dr. Karen Fricker and Alan King have (hopefully) sufficiently prepared us for this event by asking us questions and thus stimulating our thoughts and leading our analysis in the right direction. We now know what questions to ask and why to ask them. “Why did the director make the decision to do this or that?” “Did it work?” “If so, why?” – and so on and so forth.
The Young Critics Programme has also helped us with our own personal artistic issues. I find it much easier now to see from an audience’s perspective and how to access different obstacles we are faced whilst acting, directing or designing. It has made me more appreciative of theatre and my love for the stage and performance has done nothing but blossom since I have fallen in with NAYD.

Special Events – Dublin Theatre Festival, Ireland 2012

Special Events – Dublin Theatre Festival, Ireland 2012.




Young Critics is a programme of the National Association for Youth Drama (NAYD). Every year, 16 youth theatre members from across Ireland come together to watch, workshop, discuss and critique high quality national and international theatre, bringing their unique perspective to the Festival. This event is open to people of all ages.

For further information see

Venue Project Arts Centre
Date 7 Oct
Time 1.15PM