NAYD Young Critics Announced for 2016

A big thank you to everyone that applied for Young Critics.  This year the number of applications was an even bigger increase on last year’s applicants. We got a record breaking 47 applications for just 16 places.


NAYD Young Critics 2011 at Project Arts Centre 

We are happy to announce that the Young Critics for 2016 are:

Colm Maye Activate Youth Theatre
Jane Byrne CYT – CYT – Cabinteely Youth Theatre
Savana Bartual Smyth Cork Institute of Technology – CIT
Rita Havlin Donegal Youth Theatre
Meabh Hennelly Dublin Youth Theatre
Jack Synnott Droichead Youth Theatre

Louis Flanagan Droichead Youth Theatre
Pierce McNee Dundalk Youth Theatre
Patrick Joy Footsteps Youth Theatre
Clodagh Healy Free Radicals Youth Theatre
Kate Brady Gonzo Youth Theatre
Emily McGee Kilkenny Youth Theatre
Ryan Finnegan Leitrim Youth Theatre Company Carrigallen (LYTC)
Ciara Lummis Play YT / Fracture Youth Theatre
Mary Condon O’Connor Play YT / Fracture Youth Theatre
Mathew Whitehead Sligo Youth Theatre

The Young Critics will be coming together for the first weekend from April 22-24th.

The first two productions they will be going to see are :

The Plough and The Stars 2016  by Sean O’Casey . Directed by Sean Holmes at the Abbey Theatre.


Tina’s Idea of Fun by Sean. P. Summers. Directed by Conall Morrison at the Peacock Theatre. 

International theatre academic and Toronto Star theatre critic Dr. Karen Fricker  will work alongside NAYD’s own Alan King to explore the fundamentals of theatre criticism over the coming months.

The Young Critics will be making  vlogs and writing reviews and you can follow their exploits here 

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.

A Summer of Shows with The Shadow Of A Gunman

It’s been a fabulously productive summer for this year’s Young Critics.

As part of our summer initiative, and with the support of their local arts centres and venues, they have been seeing productions the length and breath of the country.

They selected a show and  planned a theatre trip for their youth theatre friends. Their own curatorial skills were being put to the test as they selected a show that would hold the interest of their peers.

The range of productions they have managed to see has been truly impressive. There was lots of New Irish Writing on display with many shows touring to local arts centres. The One Man Show is a staple of the touring circuits and there was no shortage of these on offer.

Young Critics Summer Shows

Several Young Critics went to see Mikel Murfi’s sublime The Man In The Woman’s Shoes, and Pat Kinevane’s equally sublime Underneath.

Michael Hillard Mulcahy’s After Sarah Miles, set in Dingle, was attend by Dusigh’s Young Critic from Tralee.

The two Young Critics from Footsteps Youth Theatre attended Seamus Moran’s Have a Heart at the Friars Gate Theatre Kilmallock, Co.Limerick.

There were also plenty of full productions on offer including An Grianan’s touring production of Frank Pig Says Hello by Pat McCabe and Martin Lynch’s My English Tongue, My Irish Heart.

There were World Premieres aplenty with Co. Carlow Youth Theatre members being treated to Jockey by Willfredd Theatre Co at Visual, Carlow.

Before Monsters Were Made by Ross Dungan was another World Premiere at Project Arts Centre as was My Second Self at the Civic Theatre and The Ballad of Charlie & Cate at the Cork Midsummer Festival.

Our Young Critic from Donegal Youth Theatre attended Annie The Musical at The Balor Theatre.

Finally Niamh Murphy, one of our Young Critics from County Wexford Youth Theatre attended Sean O’Casey’s The Shadow of A Gunman at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

Here is her very fine video blog review of the production.

Have you seen the show?

Would you agree with Niamh?

Heartbreak House – A Review by NAYD’S Young Critics

In the run up to NAYD’s Young Critics Panel on Oct 5th as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival, we continue to publish a series of reviews from the Young Critics.

Over the summer months,we asked the Young Critics to attend some shows on their own. We asked them to make a short vlog review of their experience. We then asked a selection of them to turn these into written reviews. Dr. Karen Fricker offered some editorial advice.

So with less than a week to go to the Young Critic’s Panel, Catriona Quigley reviews Heartbreak House 

Heartbreak House by George Bernard Shaw, directed by Roisin McBrinn

Performed by Lisa Dwyer Hogg, Nick Dunning, Kathy Kiera Clarke, Brendan Conroy, Marcus Lamb, Mark Lambert, Aislin McGuckin, Chris McHallem, Don Wycherley, and Barbara Brennan

Sets by Alyson Cummins, lighting by Paul Keogan, Costumes by Niamh Lunny, music and sound design by Philip Stewart

Viewed on August 21st 2014 at the Abbey Theatre

Reviewed by Caitriona Quigley

Heartbreak House: the name seems to imply anything but good-naturedness. At the same time, though, period dramas bring guilty pleasure for many, particularly now that Downton Abbey is so popular. And I’ve never studied George Bernard Shaw at all. Given all this, it was hard to know what to expect from the Abbey’s production – but I found myself sitting transfixed.

Shaw set his scene in 1914, just before the outbreak of the First World War, ensuring a plenitude of satirical jabs at the expense of the affluent upper classes who confined themselves to their trivial problems as the world changed around them.


Mark Lambert (Captain Shotover), Aislín McGuckin (Lady Ariadne Utterword), Kathy Kiera Clarke (Hesione Hushabye), Lisa Dwyer Hogg (Ellie Dunn) and Nick Dunning (Hector Hushabye) in Heartbreak House by Bernard Shaw, directed by Róisín McBrinn. Photo by Sarah Doyle.

Mark Lambert (Captain Shotover), Aislín McGuckin (Lady Ariadne Utterword), Kathy Kiera Clarke (Hesione Hushabye), Lisa Dwyer Hogg (Ellie Dunn) and Nick Dunning (Hector Hushabye) in Heartbreak House by Bernard Shaw, directed by Róisín McBrinn. Photo by Sarah Doyle.

The play concerns a colourful cast of characters who congregate for a country weekend at the dwelling of the surly yet outspoken Captain Shotover, played with appropriate gusto by Mark Lambert. Shotover has been estranged from his younger daughter Ariadne (Aislin McGuckin) for 23 years — yet she seethes when both the Captain and her eccentric sister Hesione (Kathy Keira Clarke) fail to recognize her. Hesione, meanwhile, has invited her friend, Ellie Dunn (the excellent Lisa Dwyer Hogg) to stay for the weekend. When Ellie arrives with her father and her fiancé in tow, she reveals that she’s had her head turned by a mysterious man, who as it transpires, may be a little too familiar to some of the guests…

I admired how Shaw deconstructs various archetypes often found in period dramas, such as the naïve young maiden, the crotchety patriarch, and the well-meaning best friend. The play’s central theme is deceit, and no character ended up to be as they appeared at the play’s outset. The characters and the audience are simultaneously strung along by this deceit, which paves the way for a literally explosive conclusion!


Aislín McGuckin (Lady Ariadne Utterword), Nick Dunning (Hector Hushabye) and Mark Lambert (Captain Shotover) in Heartbreak House by Bernard Shaw, directed by Róisín McBrinn. Photo by Sarah Doyle.

Aislín McGuckin (Lady Ariadne Utterword), Nick Dunning (Hector Hushabye) and Mark Lambert (Captain Shotover) in Heartbreak House by Bernard Shaw, directed by Róisín McBrinn. Photo by Sarah Doyle.

Heartbreak House, is, at times, an incredibly complex production to follow. I can’t count how many times my mum and I exchanged expressions of confusion about how the plot swerved in many directions, often with no prior warning. Yet, the dazzling set by Alyson Cummins, the actors’ impeccable comic timing and exquisite costumes by Niamh Lunny ensure that this production is, at its best, a genuinely enticing piece of theatre.

In conclusion, we found that Shaw’s razor-sharp wit and jovial banter made for insightful and pleasant viewing. Very highly recommended!

Catriona Quigley is a member of M.A.D Youth Theatre, Dundalk and an NAYD Young Critic for 2014

The Risen People – Review

Saoirse Anton from Laois Youth Theatre went to a recent performance of The Risen People at the Abbey Theatre. This is her review.

I, like many others, studied the 1913 Strike and Lockout in school, I know the history of it, the facts, the figure, but never before has it been more alive in my mind than as I watched the Abbey Theatre’s production of  The Risen People by James Plunkett, directed by Jimmy Fay.

A moving and engaging piece of theatre, The Risen People brings the harsh reality of the lockout to life, reminds us of the day to day difficulties of the families involved and draws the audience into the world of Dublin in 1913.

Every aspect of the production added to the atmosphere and drew the audience further into the story. The incredible musical numbers, choreographed by Colin Dunne with music by Conor Linehan are, in my opinion, some of the best I have ever seen. Some serve to convey the raw suffering of the people, some show the dissatisfaction that sparked the rising and some, such as  The Internationale  serve to rouse the spirits of the audience and give them a taste of the pride and drive that led the workers to stand up for their rights.

The shadowy, cold lighting (Paul Keogan)  and sparse set (Alyson Cummins)  are beautifully designed to give the audience a sense of the poverty and hardship felt by the workers. These, when combined with the excellent acting performances, particularly by the female characters, played by Hilda Fay, Charlotte McCurry and Kate Stanley Brennan, make for a truly breathtaking production.

L-R Phelim Drew (Mr. Hennessy), Joe Hanley (Rashers Tierney), Keith Hanna (Pat), Kate Stanley Brennan (Lily Maxwell), Charlotte McCurry (Annie), Ian Lloyd Anderson (Fitzpatrick), Hilda Fay (Mrs. Hennessy), Lloyd Cooney (Joe), Simon Boyle (Keever / RIC Man), Conor Linehan (Piano / Ensemble) and Niwel Tsumbu (Guitar / Ensemble) in The Risen People by James Plunkett, adapted by Jimmy Fay from a version by Jim Sheridan. Photography by Ros Kavanagh.

L-R Phelim Drew (Mr. Hennessy), Joe Hanley (Rashers Tierney), Keith Hanna (Pat), Kate Stanley Brennan (Lily Maxwell), Charlotte McCurry (Annie), Ian Lloyd Anderson (Fitzpatrick), Hilda Fay (Mrs. Hennessy), Lloyd Cooney (Joe), Simon Boyle (Keever / RIC Man), Conor Linehan (Piano / Ensemble) and Niwel Tsumbu (Guitar / Ensemble) in The Risen People by James Plunkett, adapted by Jimmy Fay from a version by Jim Sheridan. Photography by Ros Kavanagh.

The cherry on top, which really brings the production into the here and now, is the Noble Call in which each night, a well known figure is invited to give their opinions on the production and share the message they gained from it through words, art or music.

I can promise you that from the striking opening sequence through the stirring story, as the houses are emptied and the pawn shop is filled, to the final line, your eyes will be riveted to the stage and you will feel every emotion of every character.

You will live the lockout.

The Risen People runs until Feb 1st 2014. For more information and booking details please visit The Abbey Theatre Website 

Put that in your notebook- I,Malvolio

I, Malvolio  written and performed by Tim Crouch
Peacock Theatre, Dublin
9 March 2013
Review by Michael Mc Grath

As the 19 members of our group (16 young critics and the facilitators Alan, Karen, and Diane [they’re also critics – we’re all critics!]) piled through the door of the Abbey’s Peacock Theatre, our expectant gazes were met with an accusing glower. It came from a figure dressed in excrement-stained pajamas dotted with flies, and bright yellow stockings, standing in a sparsely decorated set.


Tim Crouch in I, Malvolio
Marcus Yam for The New York Times

Variations of these actions; our engagement and Malvolio’s judging looks were repeated over and over, and we were also soon met with his accusing words. The routine was denied the chance to stagnate by the increasing brutality of our relationship with one another, culminating in the arrival of a noose. An hour later we left our seats feeling a bit puzzled after Malvolio’s subtly-delivered “revenge,” a surprise that we are promised from the start, a punishment for our casual sins. Puzzled and intimidated but also intrigued and impressed. This I won’t spoil for you on the off chance that you are ever given the chance to see Tim Crouch’s brilliant I, Malvolio.
This is a one-man play told from the perspective of Shakespeare’s Malvolio, locked in his prison after the curtains have drawn on Twelfth Night. He is eager to have his say as he peers down on his squirming audience, and often orders us up to the stage to stand with him under the spotlight, literally and figuratively, in this clever performance.

“I am not mad,” Malvolio insists to his audience, whom he regards with contempt but who he believes need to respect his sanity. “Put that in your notebook” he spits at us after noticing our hasty scribbling. This is a taste of Crouch’s witty improvisation which dots I, Malvolio and provokes the most laughs in response to the play.

Soon after “mounting the horse of the script” — as the wonderfully strange half-Malvolio, half-Crouch puts it — we are told exactly how Malvolio intends this “well, whatever ‘this’ is” to go: he will first make us laugh and then attack us for laughing. This is the root of I, Malvolio, which brings the human cruelty inherent in comedy out in the open, where it both causes and silences our laughter with constantly changing tides of glee and guilt.

© Michael Mc Grath 2013

Gulliver’s Travels – A Review BY Niall McDaid

Photo by Ros Kavanagh

Photo by Ros Kavanagh

The  National Youth Theatre production of 

Gulliver’s Travels

by Johnathan Swift, adapted for the stage by Conall Morrison

I went to see the NYT’s production of Gulliver’s Travels on Monday 26th August. As it was the first preview I was expecting one or two small mistakes but I didn’t notice any. It was clearly very well rehearsed and well put together. I really liked the way it looked exactly like a professional production but kept the feel of a youth theatre play about it. The story was shown very clearly and the use of a live camera feed to help show the size difference between Gulliver and the Lilliputians worked very well. Never having been to the Peacock before, I was expecting a larger stage and auditorium but I really think the smaller stage worked well as the show felt much more personal. All sixteen cast members were absolutely brilliant! The animated facial expressions were a real highlight for me. Overall it was an excellent show, well written script, brilliant performance from the cast, great style and just a spectacular show and I’d highly recommend it. 

Niall McDaid is a member of Letterkenny Youth Theatre and a recent participant on the NAYD Young Critics International Encounter

Gulliver has finished it’s run at the Peacock Theatre and has now travelled down to the Everyman, Cork. Three shows only.


Venue: The Everyman
Dates: 5 -7 September at 8pm.
Tickets: €18. Concession €15  Family price €60 (2 adults, 2 children)
Youth Theatre members €12 (not available online)
Bookings: Phone The Everyman on 021-4501673

The Ties That Bind- Shibari Review

Janet Moran and Orion Lee in the Abbey Theatre production of Gary Duggan’s SHIBARI, directed by Tom Creed on the Peacock stage as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival. 4 Oct – 3 Nov 2012. Pic by Fiona Morgan.

SHIBARI by Gary Duggan
Directed by: Tom Creed
Reviewed by: Luke Casserly, 08 October, 2012

Shibari is a contemporary piece of modern theatre which hones in on the ties, connections and interlinked relationships which exist between people in modern-day Dublin. Through a series of vignettes we see into the lives of six ordinary people living in the city.
A distinct and bold Japanese flavour wavers through this play at all times and many aspects of the lighting, setting and costume design are inclusive of this Japanese sense.

The clean and elegant knot transitions were admirably smooth, as was the quirky set, designed by Frank Conway. The gradual colour changes in costume from knot-to-knot were wickedly effective and acting was faultless throughout. I commend Janet Moran and Kate Nic Chonaonigh in particular on their excellent character development, which shone brilliantly on the night I attended.

I enjoyed this play a great amount. It doesn’t follow the conventional and linear structure of a play, instead, it unfolds in a series of knots, rather than scenes. The play’s clever structural arrangement along with its direct and sometimes witty dialogue was highly entertaining and indeed thought-provoking; Shibari is a play which is intensely real and relative to a modern Irish audience. Having said this, the play did not personally offer me any long-term effect. It did not cause me to think for any longer than a few hours post show.
Tom Creed has directed a wonderfully modern, symbolic and different piece in the form of Shibari, which is presented on the Peacock Stage. A play full of realism and quirk, it is highly entertaining to say the least. As I had seen it in its preview stage, I look forward to seeing the further development which the production undergoes. It is highly recommended by this critic that you go and experience Shibari for yourself.

Luke Casserly is a member of NAYD’s Young Critics 2012