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.
Creative Commons: Working together to support youth theatre development
Young Critics International Exchange 2017
NAYD are looking for 14 young people, aged 16 – 20, with an interest in learning about and developing skills in creative criticism in theatre.
NAYD is delighted to be partnering with Youth Theatre Arts Scotland to run a 5-day Young Critics International Exchange in Dublin. Part of a 3-year joint project called Creative Commons supported by the European Union via its Erasmus+ programme, the exchange will support each young person to develop their individual critical response process, their understanding of theatre and an individual voice.
When? Monday 10 – Friday 14 April 2017
CREATIVE COMMONS PROGRAMME
As a Young Critic, you will join 13 other young people from all over Ireland and 10 young people from Scotland in Dublin from April 10th – 14th.
Over the 5 action-packed days, participants will have fun getting to know each other, attend theatre productions, participate in a series of workshops and discussions as well as exploring the theatres and city of Dublin. Accommodation and workshops will be based at the Marino Institute of Education.
Participants are given the opportunity to see quality productions and develop their critical silks under the mentorship of professional theatre critics Dr. Karen Fricker and Gareth Vile. Workshops will be facilitated by NAYD’s Youth Theatre Officer Alan King and YTAS Theatre Practitioner Amy Watt.
In addition, there will be Young Critics activities taking place in the months after the International Exchange. Participants will continue the critical conversation on the Young Critics Blog where they will be encouraged to see, and make critical responses to, local productions.
The Irish group will come together in a similar way in October as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.
The Scottish group will come together again for a weekend in August to take part in a series of workshops and to see productions at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to build and hone the critical and creative skills developed in April.
At the end of the project, participants will qualify for a Youthpass, which is a European award recognizing non-formal and informal learning in youth work.
No prior experience is necessary, just an enthusiasm for learning and collaborating! We are looking for young people who are comfortable meeting new people, working in a highly focused way and are not afraid to share their thoughts and opinions with each other.
• Applicants must be aged 16 – 20 on 1 April 2017.
• Applicants must be a current member of an NAYD affiliated Youth Theatre.
• Selected participants must be fully available from Monday 10 – Friday 14 April 2017 inclusive, willing to continue the critical conversation online and attend a follow up weekend event as part of Dublin Theatre Festival in October (dates tbc).
HOW TO APPLY
In order to offer individual advice and guidance on developing each young person’s critical skills, places on the programme are limited to 24 (14 from Ireland and 10 from Scotland)
We are looking for young people who are comfortable meeting new people, working in a highly focused way and are not afraid to share their thoughts and opinions with each other.
For full details on how to apply please download our information pack and application form here . Please provide us with the information asked for on the form and post your application no later than 5pm on Monday 6 February 2017. You can answer the application questions in writing or if you prefer via a video or voice recording (no longer than 2-3 minutes).
If you have any questions, please contact Alan King
Closing Date For Applications is 5pm Monday 6 February 2017
It’s almost two month since the Young Critics panel discussion at the Dublin Theatre Festival. Pierce McNee from Dundalk reflects on three action packed days in Dublin.
Friday Oct 7th 2016
It was an eventful afternoon in Dublin, as ever. Across the street a drum was was being beaten and a group of dancers performed to a large crowd. We were all reunited at the GPO and it felt like an age since the last time we had all seen each other. A great feeling came upon us all as we knew we were in for an absolute treat of a weekend.
We could not wait!
We made our way to the Dublin Fringe Festival Lab, where we had our first workshop discussing what the Dublin Theatre Festival is, the different elements of the festival and what makes it different from going to see a play which is not running at a theatre festival. We also discussed the Project Arts Centre and its history.
After having some tasty pizza and further discussions, we headed over to the Project Arts Centre to see our first show of the weekend: Wishful Beginnings. This was a show that I think we can all safely say we will never forget!
After the show we made our way back to the Marino Institute of Education whilst having intense post-show discussions as a group about Wishful Beginnings. This was by far the most interesting discussion I’ve had about a play as every single one of us had a different opinion. Some people loved it and some people hated. Not only that but everyone had their own ideas in regards to the themes explored in the show and how they were explored.
We returned to Marino and got ready for bed. Not one of us could cease to ponder on Wishful Beginnings.
Sat Oct 8th 2016
The next morning we had our second workshop where we discussed the history of the two most well known theatres in Ireland: The Abbey Theatre and The Gate Theatre. We talked about the nature of the plays they showcase and their target audience, as well as many other areas.
We would be going to see a play in the Gate that day. The play was called The Father. We discussed this play as well as our second play of the day: Alien Documentary, which was a piece of documentary theatre. This was something that I had never seen before.
After this, we went to see The Father. We also had the opportunity to meet with some of the stars of the show, Owen Roe, Fiona Bell and Peter Gaynor backstage. We had the chance to ask them some questions about the show.
We then had lunch in the NAYD offices. This was hugely interesting as we got to see the workplace of the people who are in charge of all youth drama across Ireland.
Next it was off to the Jervis shopping centre for a quick spot of window-shopping and hot-chocolate drinking. It was then time for Alien Documentary. This was was being staged in the Project Arts Centre. When we got there I proceeded to take a quick trip to the toilet. As I was about entering the toilets, who did I meet? None other than PJ Gallagher himself. The famous Irish comedian and actor. He would be starring in Alien Documentary.
I will now be known by him as “that lad I met coming out of the jacks”!
When we got back to Marino, we all contributed eagerly to conversations on the plays we had seen that day. We also indulged in a few delicious chocolate treats to fuel our talks.
Sunday Oct 9th
On Sunday morning, we had one final workshop where we discussed each play we had seen and gave our opinions on them. We then prepared ourselves for our final Young Critics task: taking part in the NAYD Young Critics Panel.
This was where we were split into groups based on which of the three plays we wished to speak about. I decided that that I would like to speak about The Father. We would be giving our opinions and discussing the play in front of an audience of roughly fifty people and Dr. Karen Fricker would chair the discussions.
First we participated in a mock panel with Karen in order to become familiar with what the proceedings would involve. I was slightly nervous but I knew that I would have my Young Critics colleagues as well as Karen and Alan there to support me.
We concluded the panel with an opportunity for audience members to ask us, the Young Critics, any questions they had regarding the plays we had seen or any element of the Young Critics experience.
As soon as the Q&A session ended, we all came to the realisation that our time on the NAYD Young Critics Programme had now finished. We all had an immensely melancholic feeling. However, we knew that we would all remain friends and chat regularly. We also knew that we would keep in contact with Alan King and the NAYD. Our time as NAYD Young Critics might have come to an end but our time as young critics outside of the programme had only just begun.
This has been a truly incredible experience for me. I would like to thank Alan King and Dr. Karen Fricker. As well as Debbie, Graham, Ciara and everyone at the NAYD for making the programme possible. I would recommend the NAYD Young Critics Programme to absolutely everyone.
Pierce McNee is a member of Dundalk Youth Theatre and was an NAYD Young Critic for 2016
I was about to embark on what would be one of the best weekends of my life!
I had been hiking in the Mourne Mountains twenty four hours before this with my school and now I found myself on a bus to Dublin. I was about to embark on what would be one of the best weekends of my life!
I arrived on O’Connell Street an hour later and headed straight for McDonald’s where I waited in anticipation for what was to come.
We all met at the GPO. I was somewhat nervous at first as I didn’t know anyone, but after just a few short minutes I felt like I had known these people my whole life.
We then traveled to the Marino Institute of Education where we met with the rest of the group.
Next we got settled into our accommodation after which we had our first workshop in one of the lecture halls, playing games to get to know each other. We then had some extremely interesting discussions with Dr. Karen Fricker, a professional theatre critic, on topics such as what theatre is, the different jobs within theatre and what an outing to the theatre is like.
Later that night we sat and talked in the common room. We also had some tasty snacks and numerous cups of tea. I really enjoyed this as there was such a relaxed atmosphere and it was really easy to talk to everyone. We all got along so well.
On Saturday morning we were up and out bright and early for our second workshop where played games relating to movement in theatre and which emotions certain poses represent . We also played memory games. After this we researched the plays by studying photographs, casts, where it had been staged before and other elements of the plays. I found this to be very useful and greatly informative, as it gave me a greater understanding of the plays.
Then it was time to make our way into the city centre to see our first play, “The Plough and The Stars”, by Sean O’Casey in the Abbey Theatre. It was a magnificent piece of theatre. There were also modern elements such as contemporary clothing in that specific production, as well as elements from the period in which the play is set. It was a hugely significant time to go to see the play as it was the one hundred year anniversary of the 1916 Rising and it was also the weekend of the actual Rising when we were in Dublin.
Afterwards we got to meet one of the lead actresses in the play which was just amazing. She told us about her experience of being in the play and talked to us about her career and how she feels about acting. We also got to ask her questions on those topics. Next we went for dinner and had some utterly mouth-watering pizza.
The time then came to see the second play of the evening. It was called: “Tina’s Idea of Fun”. I truly loved this play. It was a new play which was performed in the Peacock Theatre and it had only opened that Tuesday.
Alan, the Youth Theatre Officer at the NAYD, had told us before the play began that we would be staying in the auditorium for a few minutes after the play had finished and I didn’t think anything of it at the time. However, when the play came to an end, Alan informed us that we would be meeting the whole cast! I was absolutely flabbergasted.
They sat on the stage and talked about how they got involved with the play and their feelings towards the play. We then got the opportunity to ask them questions. I asked them if they had any advice for aspiring actors and they all gave me the best advice that I could ever have asked for. This was probably my favourite part of the weekend as we were given a brilliant insight into the life of a stage actor and it definitely inspired me to just keep pushing myself as an actor.
On Sunday morning we had our final workshop. In this workshop we discussed the productions we had seen the previous night. This was again very insightful and useful in coming to a conclusion as to my opinion on the the plays and the way in which I interpreted them.
Our last activity of the day was finding out what our project for the coming months would be. It will involve going to see a play with our youth theatres and then critiquing the production in the form of a video blog. I have already started working on the project and I am really enjoying the process of putting each component together to complete it.
This weekend was honestly a weekend that I will never forget. I learned so much about critiquing theatre, met lots of new friends and had such a magnificent time overall. Finally, I would like to thank Alan King, Dr. Karen Fricker and the welfare officers for a truly incredible weekend and I would like to thank the NAYD for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Pierce McNee is a member of Dundalk Youth Theatre and an NAYD Young Critic for 2016
Young Critics was an absolutely unforgettable weekend filled with everything a theatre loving 16 year old could ask for.
Upon arriving at the Marino Institute of Education, our temporary lodgings for the weekend, we were treated to two great introductory workshops with co-ordinator Alan King involving a wide variety of drama games, helping us to get to know each other. After that we had some enlightening discussions with the fantastic theatre critic and scholar Dr. Karen Fricker, about every aspect of theatre and criticism from the making of theatre and its function to the duties of the theatre critic.
We then journeyed back to the common rooms for some late night chats and cups of tea before we hit the proverbial sack to get some much needed rest.
The next morning we embarked on what was probably the most unexpectedly enjoyable part of the weekend: the research. This involved rooting through a variety of articles on the themes, settings, context and creative teams behind each of the two shows we would be seeing that afternoon.
This really helped us to get a solid grasp on what to expect from the plays and it was interesting to see the similarities and differences between the two. We also did some work on the differences between objectivity and subjectivity and the importance of description, through more drama games, which was a fun way to hone these invaluable skills.
That afternoon we took the bus into Dublin to see the first of our two plays, Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars on the Abbey Stage. This was a really interesting take on an Irish classic, with director Seán Holmes really pushing the boundaries and gleefully playing with our expectation of such a revered piece.
Afterwards we had the honour of meeting Janet Moran, the actor who played Mrs. Gogan. Through our discussion with Janet we gained a huge insight into the play, and how many of its ideas took form throughout production.
After a brief excursion to the Jervis centre and a gorgeous dinner, we returned to the Abbey Theatre to take our seats for the new play showing on the Peacock Stage, Tina’s Idea of Fun by Sean P. Summers.
Set against the backdrop of Queen Elizabeth the Second’s visit to Ireland in 2011, this very funny play asked questions about modern day republicanism while simultaneously examining the difficulties of motherhood and the dangers of isolation.
Andrew Connolly (Paddy), Sarah Morris (Edel),Keith Hanna (Dave), Josh Carey (Bundy), Hilda Fay (Tina) and Scott Graham (Aaron) in Tina’s Idea of Fun by Sean P. Summers. Directed by Conall Morrison.
Featuring excellent, honest performances and a subtle, quiet script, this piece directed by Conall Morrison was hugely enjoyable. Immediately afterwards we were treated to a Q and A with the entire cast, an amazing opportunity that was both great fun and incredibly informative.
We finished off our action packed day with a group selfie on the bus and the wonder of cake before we retired once again to bed.
Sunday, the final day of the weekend was filled with emotional goodbyes and happy reminiscing, but we still found time for two panel discussions, dissecting each of the previous day’s productions.
This was a brilliant morning, as we really got to get into the meat of what we had seen, debating every element of each of the shows and occasionally being shown an entirely new angle on certain aspects. It was great to be able to discuss the plays in such detail, with a group of people just as interested in them as you, and I left that workshop with a much deeper understanding of the plays than I had going in.
All that was left was for us to learn our assignment for the summer, to create a video blog reviewing a production in our local venue, and to say our goodbyes. It was sad to leave everyone behind, but we knew that we’d be back again in October.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the weekend at Young Critics, I saw some great plays, met some amazing people and learned some invaluable things. Roll on October!
Jack Synnott is a member of Droichead Youth Theatre in Drogheda, Co.Louth and an NAYD Young Critic for 2016
Following our call out for applications at the end of January, we are delighted to announce that the Young Critics have been selected for 2015. We received a huge amount of applications for the 16 places from across the country and we were able to offer places to a broad selection of youth theatres nationwide.
The Young Critics for 2015 are:
Thomas Caffrey – Droichead Youth Theatre
Dara Eaton – Co.Carlow Youth Theatre
Somhairle Brennan – Letterkenny Youth Theatre
David Ronan – Co. Wexford Youth Theatre
Ryan Doherty – Donegal Youth Theatre
Vinnie McBrien – LYTC Carrigallen
Maeve Doyle – Footsteps Youth Theatre
Christine McNamara- Footsteps Youth Theatre
Aisling Clark – Duisigh Youth Theatre
Marie Lynch – Backstage Youth Theatre
Niamh Elliott Sheridan – Dublin Youth Theatre
Niamh Murphy – Co.Wexford Youth Theatre
Maryanne Brassil – Free Radicals Youth Theatre
Aisling Sargent – Dublin Youth Theatre
The first weekend of Young Critics will be happening from April 10-12 and promises to be an action packed weekend of shows, workshops, discussions and fun.
The two productions we will be going to see are:
Pals – The Irish at Gallipoli by ANU productions, at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks. Directed by Louise Lowe.
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, at the Gate Theatre. Directed by Wayne Jordan.
Under the watchful eye of Dr. Karen Fricker and NAYD’s Alan King, the Young Critics will be guided through the elements of theatre and the art of criticism.
We will be keeping you posted about this year’s Young Critics as it happens.
As the Young Critics programme draws to a close for 2014, Emma Gallagher from Greise Youth Theatre reflects on her experiences as a Young Critic.
‘The buzz is electric’ Dublin Theatre Festival director Willie White told the Irish Independent, and I could say the same for our experience in The Young Critics Programme. It is frightening to think it was around Easter time that I set out for my very first Young Critics weekend.
Oscar Wilde, Anton Chekhov and Owen McCafferty were names I knew a little about. That was until we started the workshops. Working with Alan King and Karen Fricker was like working with two theatre knowledge generators and I mean that in the best way possible.
I was so surprised to how in depth we actually we went into critiquing a play. In only two weekends our knowledge of theatre and all its aspects had expanded immensely. It was a real eye opener, exploring each element that can make a production special. From lighting to sound, music, and set to costume design, performers, writers and directors, the collaborative work put into productions is truly unique.
I became aware of the different types of theatre, from classic and contemporary to immersive, all of which we got the pleasure to experience. These were fantastical productions that had my mind blooming with new ideas.
An Ideal Husband at The Gate Theatre was a real treat. I was astonished by the intricate detail and energy that had been put into this one show. It was a wondrous romantic comedy enriched in Wilde’s dark and delightful witticisms.
Being involved in The Young Critics Programme really opened my eyes to the different professions within the world of the creative arts. From listening to director Gavin Quinn speak about Pan Pan’s colourful and playground like production, The Seagull and Other Birds to the ever so sweet Marty Rae speak as openly and answer our questions about his experiences working as an actor.
Over the summer we were allocated the activity to bring each of our Youth Theatre’s to a new production in our own local venues.
Swing written by Steve Blount, Peter Daly, Gavin Kostick and Janet Moran, also directed by Peter Daly and starring Steve Blount and Janet Moran was a popular choice between The Young Critics participants. It received very positive feedback from a lot of the young people.
The Arts Centres kindly offered our Youth Theatre discounted tickets and NAYD organised a post-show chat with the cast of the production.
It was really interesting to hear how the show came into development and hear the actors speak about their character work in preparation for their roles.
Next was the video blog review of the play we chose to see. For the technophobes- I include myself in this category, this was a tricky challenge in which a few awkward techie problems occurred.
However, once I did manage to record a decent vlog, I actually felt I had really achieved something and it wasn’t half bad either. Having said that I won’t be the next Quentin Tarintino by any means but it was a very beneficial task and I think it will be of use in the future.
Spending two weekends with the young people from other Youth Theatres was splendid to say the very least. It was interesting to hear how different Youth Theatres’ work. We shared a lot of laughter and a couple of the members even shared a few tears during Ganesh Versus The Third Reich. It was a very touching production for a lot of people, so much so it received a standing ovation.
On the 5th of October The Young Critic’s Panel was held in The Project Arts Centre in Dublin. We had butterflies as people working in the shows, theatre folk and even Willie White attended. At first it was scary speaking about our honest opinions as a critic of the productions but also liberating too. I find public speaking a struggle, but this experience of sharing your thoughts openly about something you genuinely love and interests you was a real stepping-stone for me.
The buzz is electric – in the presence of people who are passionate about their work, their energy radiates. As Anton Chekhov said ‘knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice’.
Young Critics inspires to create action in the world of the arts.