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 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?
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.
If you are interested in the programme, please download the application form,fill out fully and return by post only to:
Young Critics Programme, Youth Theatre Ireland, 7, North Great George’s Street, Dublin 1 by Thursday March 14th by 5pm.
If you need further information please contact Youth Theatre Ireland:
Office phone: 01 878 1301 or Email Alan King
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.
In the latest in our series of Young Critics reviews, Pierce McNee from Dundalk Youth Theatre traveled to London to see The Taming of the Shrew at Shakespeare’s Globe.
Cast: Aoife Duffin, Amy Conroy, Louis Dempsey, Imogen Doel, Colm Gormley, Aaron Heffernan, Genevieve Hulme-Beaman, Raymond Keane, Gary Lilburn, Edward MacLiam and Helen Norton
Performed at Shakespeare’s Globe; reviewed on Monday, 18th July 2016
Set against the backdrop of Dublin 1916, this is a classic play with an alternative twist, featuring an all-Irish cast. This choice of setting — one hundred years after the events that sparked Ireland’s drive towards independence — makes the staging of this production extremely significant. Katherine (Aoife Duffin) appears on the stage at the start of play and sings, passionately, an Irish ballad written by Morna Regan (dramaturg and lyricist) especially for the production. This firmly establishes the 1916 setting and showcases Duffin as a standout performer and a force to be reckoned with.
The Taming of the Shrew tells the story of two sisters, Katherine and Bianca. Bianca is intensely keen on being married off to a handsome suitor. Katherine has no ambitions to become attached to a man. There is one problem: Bianca cannot marry before Katherine, a.k.a. the shrew, is herself paired off.
Going in, I was rather sceptical as to whether or not the production would cater for only an Irish audience, but it does not overly enforce the 1916 theme, which only becomes apparent on a few occasions. For example, a small fraction of the history is played out in the lyrics of Katherine’s two ballads. This make the theme subtly present throughout the performance but the production is kept grounded overall in the original story.
Caroline Byrne’s production is full of side-splitting antics whilst still exposing the serious and sometimes poignant aspects of the play. The misogynistic elements are portrayed with the earnest tone they deserve. The comedic facet is aided in particular by Aaron Heffernan as Lucentio, with his incredible physical comedy and natural wittiness.
Other notable performances include Edward MacLiam as Petruchio, who offers a truly gritty portrayal of the character. He brings an amazing sense of tension with Katherine and this really keeps the audience on the edge of their seats for the intense scenes between them. Helen Norton as Grumio plays her character with great jocularity but also sincerity in the more sombre scenes.
The set, designed by Chiara Stephenson, starts with the traditional Globe stage design with its balcony and pillars. A large black structure is built into the opening at the upstage centre of the stage. This opens up at various points to reveal a staircase. At certain moments during the first half, the stage becomes a 1916 classroom as a prodigious abacus and an anatomical skeleton hurtle onto the stage. A pit of dirty water also appears at the downstage centre of the stage in which Katherine stands while singing one of her ballads.
The costumes, also in Stephenson’s more than capable hands, are eminently satisfactory and greatly fitting to the production. Many of the costumes are 1916-inspired with the women’s pieces heavily influenced by the Gibson Girl look. This also introduces the theme of women’s rights one hundred years ago and also in today’s society. The final speech, delivered by Katherine, allows us to reflect on how much has changed in terms of women’s rights since 1916, when women were so poorly treated.
Pierce is an NAYD Young Critic for 2016 and a member of Dundalk Youth Theatre in Co. Louth.
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.