A Class of Its Own by Molly Foley

During the Dublin Theatre Festival, the Young Critics  paid a visit to the New Theatre to see a performance of Class by David Horan and Iseult Golden.

Class will be returning to the Peacock Stage in January and Molly Foley from Activate Youth Theatre has this review from its October showing.

This new play, written and directed by Iseult Golden and David Horan is in many ways quite simple. The set is realistic and the plot is a straightforward narrative, with only three actors playing the five characters established in the piece. Despite this, Class is one of the most engaging, enjoyable and thematically-rich plays I’ve seen in a long time.

The story is that of two working-class parents, Brian (Stephen Jones) and Donna (Sarah Morris), who are called in to their son, Jayden’s school to talk with his middle-class teacher, Ray McCafferty (Will O’Connell). The parent-teacher meeting that unfolds is broken up with scenes of Mr. McCafferty’s interactions with Jayden and another student in his class during which Jones and Morris seamlessly take on the roles of the two children. These relationships develop and change as these characters deal with internal resentments and face a variety of issues that arise through the play.

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Stephen Jones and Sarah Morris in Class. Photo Credit: Ros Kavanagh

The play manages do deal with issues of social class and notions of status subtly without hammering in an established opinion or belief. Instead, it is a perfect example of ‘show don’t tell’, starting a conversation through real, flawed and relatable characters, each with valid motivations, opinions and outlooks. It does not paint characters as ‘good or ‘bad’ and doesn’t depict anyone as in the right or the wrong. Those decisions are left in the hands of the audience and I believe that by the end of the 75 minutes, most viewers will have had at least one moment of sympathy and/or identification with each character in the play.

Class feels like a very down to earth play that knows what it is setting out to do and does it well without any self-importance. Although the plot develops in very unexpected and extreme ways, it never feels like it is being dramatic for drama’s sake.

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At its heart this show is an exercise in empathy, not asking for audiences to choose or change sides, but just to listen and perhaps to briefly find themselves in the shoes of others.

I would consider this show a must see. With a sharp, well written script and stunning performances, this show is as hilarious as it is heartbreaking. Five stars.

Molly Foley is a member of Activate Youth Theatre and a Youth Theatre Ireland Young Critic for 2017.

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Molly Foley, Activate Youth Theatre

Class returns to the Abbey Theatre for a limited run from January 24th 2018.

Young Critics Panel Discussion at Dublin Theatre Festival 2017 (Full Audio)

The Young Critics Panel discussion took place at Project Cube on Sunday Oct 8th as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

Listen to full audio here are our panelists discuss three shows in front of a live audience.  Chaired by Helen Meany.

 

Our Panelists were:

The Second Violinist

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Young Critics Panelists for The Second Violinist

Tadhg Carey – Celbridge Youth Drama, Co. Kildare 

Molly Foley – Activate Youth Theatre, Cork

Cian McGrath – Free Radicals Youth Theatre, Tralee, Co. Kerry

Aaron Dobson – Leitrim Youth Theatre Company, Carrigallen

 

Class 

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Young Critics Panelists for Class

David Quinn – Monaghan Youth Theatre 

Sean McManus – Dublin Youth Theatre 

Lara Coady – Explore Youth Theatre, Leixlip, Co.Kildare 

Caoimhe Kenny – Roscommon County Youth Theatre

 

Hamnet

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Young Critics Panelists for Hamnet

Luke Murphy – Lightbulb Youth Theatre, Mallow, Co.Cork

Vanessa Byrne – Mayo Youth Theatre 

Kiara Toal – Monaghan Youth Theatre 

Ella McGill – Complex Youth Theatre, Dublin

 

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Youth Theatre Ireland Young Critics at Dublin Theatre Festival 2017

Youth Theatre Ireland’s Young Critics Set For Dublin Theatre Festival

With the Dublin Theatre Festival starting today we are gearing up for  Youth Theatre Ireland’s Young Critics  to return once again to the DTF.

Since April, the Young Critics have been honing their critical  skills through workshops and online discussion with the support of professional theatre critics and facilitators. They have also been seeing lots of theatre, collaborating  with a group of Scottish  Young Critics and creating  their own criticism in familiar and unusual forms…

The Young Critics, representing youth theatre from all over Ireland, come together from Oct 6th – 8th, to see a number of shows, and take part in the Young Critics Panel on Sunday Oct 8th. 

The three productions the Young Critics are going to see are:

 

 

 

With Young Critics representing Kerry, Kildare, Cork, Leitrim,Dublin, Monaghan, Mayo and Roscommon there are workshops, lively discussions and the Young Critics Panel itself. Here the Young Critics will get the opportunity to voice their considerable opinion on the work of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

 

Join us Oct 8th at the Project Arts Centre, Dublin at 1pm. This year’s panel will be chaired by Helen Meany.

NAYD Young Critics at The Dublin Theatre Festival by Pierce McNee

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.

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In preparation for the Gate’s production of The Father by Florian Zeller. Photo Credit: Alan King


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. 

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Backstage at the Gate Theatre Dublin with the stars of The Father- Owen Roe, Fiona Bell and Peter Gaynor. Photo Credit: Alan King


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.

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The Young Critics got to visit the engine room of NAYD. Number Great Georges St. Dublin. Photo Credit: Alan King


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.

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Dr. Karen Fricker in discussion with Young Critics Pierce McNee and Jack Synnott. Photo Credit: Alan King

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

Wishful Beginnings Reviewed by NAYD Young Critic Emily McGee

The NAYD Young Critics came to Dublin from the 7th – 9th of October for the Dublin Theatre Festival. They attend three productions as part of the Festival. Here Young Critic Emily McGee reviews Verk Produksjoner’s Wishful Beginnings at Project Arts Centre.

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Wishful Beginnings . Photo Credit: http://verkproduksjoner.no/

Wishful Beginnings

Wishful Beginnings: undoubtedly a show with the power to start the revolution that our world today needs most.

Upon entering the theatre of the Project Arts Centre on the 7th of October 2016, the audience suddenly, with or without realising, became immersed in the concept that Verk Produksjoner placed before us. The first thing that you can’t help but notice is the towering plywood wall reaching from the floor upwards, seemingly with no end. This wall was placed at the front of the stage, leaving the actors with a stage approximately no more than two metres in width. Seemingly random costume and prop items lined the outer aisles, where the actors waited to begin.

Between the towering wall of the set, and being entirely surrounded by five actors in various stages of curious costumes, to an extent, the audience couldn’t help but feel somewhat enclosed within the space. This made a very bold and effective addition to the performance as it really aided in exposing the concept of the piece.

Wishful Beginnings is not your traditional piece of theatre, but that’s precisely what I loved most about it. It was more of a conceptual, contemporary, abstract piece of theatre. It took an in-depth look at our world and our society at this present moment in time, and explored through means of improvisation and symbolic or metaphorical scenes, what our future will look like if we continue as we are.

Verk Produksjoner touch on topics such as; fashion and popular culture, mental health and self-harm, industrialisation, LGBTQ+ rights, and animal cruelty. These topics were approached in a rather artful way by using metaphors and symbolism, truly advocating the “show, don’t tell” technique. However, as this technique was so well put to use that, on the surface, it almost seemed as though none of these topics were covered. It was only when the symbolism (ranging from the use of costume, prop, script, and lighting tools) became fully understood, did these topics, or “social issues” and the concept of the piece, become the plot.

 

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Wishful Beginnings. Photo Credit: http://verkproduksjoner.no/

The acting from all of the actors was to a very high standard. It was very natural and credible. Espen Klouman Hoiner, in one scene in particular, gave an outstanding, powerful and moving performance portraying a painful death. The performances overall were very impressive, especially so when taking into account that parts of the show were improvised. Despite this, the show flowed seamlessly, the improvised scenes becoming almost indistinguishable from the rehearsed, adding to the authenticity of the entire production.

Overall, Wishful Beginnings was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. It was truly a powerful and moving artwork. However, as enjoyable and powerful as I found it to be, I understand that this show is not suited to everybody, as it may be difficult for some to fully grasp the concept, and therefore, the “plot” of the piece. Wishful Beginnings is most definitely a show that I’m glad not to have missed.

Cast and Creative Team: 

With and by Fredrik Hannestad, Saila Hyttinen, Tilo Hahn,  Signe Becker, Solveig Laland Mohn,  Håkon Mathias Vassvik, Per Platou,  Anders Mossling, Espen Klouman  Høiner, Pernille Mogensen,  Camilla Eeg-Tverbakk,  Jon Refsdal Moe, Agnes Gry

Project Arts Centre  as part of Dublin Theatre Festival

Co-production by Black Box TeaterBIT-Teatergarasjen and Teaterhuset Avant Garden.

Emily McGee was a Young Critic for 2016 and a member of Kilkenny Youth Theatre 

Shakespeare’s Globe Taming Of The Shrew. Reviewed by NAYD Young Critic Pierce McNee

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.

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, directed by Caroline Byrne

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Come join Pierce and all our Young Critics on October 9th at 1pm at Project Arts Centre.  They will be critiquing three productions as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2016. 

 

 

 

 

Radiohead – An NAYD Young Critic’s Review of Glitch. Review by Louis Flanagan

As the Young Critics hit the stage of the Dublin Theatre Festival  on Oct 9th , we will publishing a series of written reviews from our Young Critics.  

In the first of our reviews Louis Flanagan from Droichead Youth Theatre reviews  Calipo Theatre Company’s production of Glitch by Martin Maguire

Glitch by Martin Maguire

Produced by Calipo Theatre Co.

Directed by Darren Thornton

Cast: Martin Maguire & Grainne Rafferty

Droichead Arts Centre

June 22nd- 24th  2016

Calipo Theatre Company’s return to theatreland has been a long time coming. Nearly five years after the success of Pineapple by Philip McMahon at the 2011 Drogheda Arts Festival, the troupe recently pounced back on our stages with a fresh and authentic piece of work called Glitch.

Time may have passed but the Calipo team remains as strong as ever, with director Darren Thornton – currently in the spotlight for his acclaimed feature film A Date For Mad Maryand writer/performer Martin Maguire reigniting a theatre partnership that stretches back almost twenty years.

Glitch has a simple plot – it follows the story of broadcaster Mike Adams (Maguire), whose drivetime radio show has dominated the landscape for nearly fifteen years but whose popularity is diminishing. Everything appears to be changing – the politics, the technology, the public opinion. The media has become increasingly fast-paced and suffocating and Mike is under fierce pressure to change as well.

Constantly in denial and trying to escape his commitments, Mike is faced with a crisis when Jesse (Grainne Rafferty) emerges – a bitter and stubborn caller, who ends up alone on the air with Adams, following a technical glitch. For rest of the piece, we see Mike and Jesse engage in a battle of wits. Amazingly, these two characters never come face-to-face, which Jesse positioning her battle station behind Maguire, which spends most of the performance downstage.

On paper, Glitch does not make a striking impression. However, this production was not only executed sharply but had an incredibly original and innovative design. Kieran McNulty’s set was spacious and vibrant, comprising of an orange desk and vertical fluorescent lights emerging from the polished, black floor.

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Martin Maguire in Glitch. Photo Credit: Calipo Theatre Company

While the set was imposing and eye-catching, it was the sound design by Jack Cawley which made the greatest impression. Cawley successfully compiled over fifty voiceovers to create an array of different characters, from frustrated callers to newscasters to the people prominent in Mike’s life. Despite just two actors onstage, the flawlessly executed sound design created the illusion that there were many more.

Glitch is Maguire’s first play in nearly ten years. In fulfilling the challenging task of being both writer and performer, Maguire’s nerves were evidently visible onstage on the night I saw the show, and his delivery was sometimes unclear and unsteady. However, he maintained an excellent chemistry with Rafferty, who herself gave a robust and fiery performance as a single mother caught up in the struggles and prejudices of modern Ireland.

Tough on the surface, through lengthy and passionate conversations both Maguire and Rafferty’s characters’ softer, weaker sides are revealed. Both are isolated and have problems, and both have continuously disappointed the people in their lives. Through some particularly heartfelt monologues, we learn about Mike’s relationship with his elderly parents and his father’s final hours alive.

Overall, Glitch was a highly enjoyable production. Thornton’s ability to make the audience become invested and engrossed in Mike and Jesse’s strained lives demonstrates his excellence as a director.

Louis is an NAYD Young Critic for 2016 and a member of Droichead Youth Theatre 

Come join Louis and all our Young Critics on October 9th at 1pm at Project Arts Centre.  They will be critiquing three productions as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2016. 

Conor McPherson’s The Weir – A Young Critics Video Review

As part of the NAYD Young Critics Programme 2016,  the Young Critics were tasked with seeing a production in their local venues and were then asked to create a critical response vlog. The Young Critics

They were encouraged to utilise their own programming eye and select work that they would then be able to create a critical response to. These critical responses take the form of  short video blog reviews or podcasts, where they discuss the shows.

Since the start of May, the Young Critics have been seeing work and then writing, shooting and editing their own individual critical response vlogs. Some of these take the form of straight up critical responses, while others utilise comedy, drama and other techniques to respond to the work.

Two of the Young Critics, Mary Condon O’Connor from Fracture/ Play Youth Theatre in Tipperary and Colm Maye from Activate Youth Theatre in Cork reviewed The Weir by Conor McPherson.

Presented by Decadent Theatre Company, the show toured Ireland in June 2016.

First up is Mary’s Review:

Watch this space where we will be uploading Colm’s review very soon.

Come join us on October 9th at the Project Cube, Dublin, where the Young Critics Panel will be critiquing three shows as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival 2016