Two of the Young Critics, Emily McGee from Kilkenny Youth Theatre and Clodagh Healy from Free Radicals Youth Theatre in Tralee, Co. Kerry, both reviewed Chapter House Theatre Company’s touring production of Sense and Sensibility. The show toured Ireland in June 2016.
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.
Watch Jack’s very insightful film here
For the last three summers the NAYD Young Critics have been given the task of selecting a professional theatre production to see over the summer months.
The aim is to encourage them to see more theatre independently of the NAYD programme and create a culture of theatre going not only amongst the Young Critics, but also their wider youth theatre community.
Ideally it should be on in their local arts centre or venue and they are encouraged and supported to make a group booking for their own youth theatre to attend also.
NAYD, along with the participating local arts centres support this initiative through discounts, youth theatre group rates and the NAYD Go See YT Fund.
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.
What did they see?
In the last two years there were a large number of One Man/ One Woman shows touring the country.This year there were more medium scale touring productions on offer, perhaps suggesting that there is a broader range of work on offer. Or perhaps companies are being better funded then in previous years.
Decadent Theatre Company led the way with their production of The Weir by Conor McPherson, which was seen by three Young Critics in venues in Cork, Kilkenny and Limerick.
Chapterhouse Theatre Company from the UK toured their production of Sense and Sensibility to stately homes in Kilkenney and Kerry was reviewed by two of our Young Critics.
Following his Olivier Award winning success, Pat Kinevane’s Underneath continues it’s extensive tour with Fishamble. It was viewed and reviewed by two of our Young Critics at the Townhall Cavan and Droichead Arts Centre.
Another show at Droichead Arts Centre was Brokentalkers highly acclaimed The Blue Boy. You can view Young Critic Jack Synott’s critical analysis here
Touring to Sligo was The Everyman, Cork’s production of God Bless The Child, which caught the attention of our Young Critic from Sligo Youth Theatre.
For our two Dublin based Young Critics, Philip McMahon’s Town is Dead proved a popular choice at the Peacock Theatre.
Also in Dublin, was the Gate’s production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee, which was reviewed by one of our Young Critics
Regionally, local productions included Lovely Leitrim at the Ramor Theatre Virginia, Romeo and Juliet at An Tain Dundalk, The State of The Nation at The Balor Arts Centre, Co. Donegal, and The Dark Kingdom at the Granary Theatre as part of the Cork Midsummer Festival.
Through the month of August we will be sharing a selection of their critical responses across the Young Critics Blog.
In September we will be sharing some written reviews of work in the run up to the Young Critics Panel as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.
It has been a really productive few months for the NAYD Young Critics and we look forward to sharing our responses to the work with you all.
A big thanks to all the venues and companies who continue to support the initiative through discounts and group rates.
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
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.
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 :
‘An amazing, life changing experience…Words cannot describe how amazing of a programme young critics is.’ Young Critic 2015
WHAT IS THE YOUNG CRITICS?
Returning for a thirteenth year, The Young Critics is one of NAYD’s most popular programmes.
It is open to NAYD affiliated 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.
Over a six-month period they will see some incredible shows, make new friends and learn about the art of theatre criticism.
In a very exciting and innovative 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 Alan King, NAYD Youth Theatre Officer.
In order to offer individual advice and guidance on developing each young person’s critical skills, places on the programme are limited to 16. Those who are interested should apply through their youth theatre before Friday March 4th.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE YOUNG CRITICS?
The Young Critics will meet in Dublin from Friday April 22nd to Sunday April 24th 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 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 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 through vlogs and written reviews.
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 youth theatre members who will be aged 16 – 20 by April 1st 2016. 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.
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 organise a theatre trip in your own area in between the two residential weekends. You be supported by NAYD, your own youth theatre and your local venues to do this.
NAYD 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 and fill out the Application Form and return by post only to:
Young Critics Programme, NAYD, 7, North Great George’s Street, Dublin 1 by Friday March 4th at 5pm
If you need further information please contact NAYD:
Office phone: 01 878 1301
Mobile (during the events): 086 829 5851
The Man in the Woman’s Shoes by Mikel Murfi
Loco and Restless Productions (production originally commissioned by the Hawk’s Well Theatre and Sligo County Arts Office)
Reviewed by Marie Lynch
Don’t take the title too literally! This play, written, directed and performed by Mikel Murfi, is not simply about a man in women’s footwear. Rather it gives us a look into one person’s enlightening, endearing life. I’m not one to usually enjoy one-man show as I think they can feel more like a recitation than a play with little or no action. However, during this performance I was completely immersed.
Set in rural Ireland in 1978, the play focuses on Pat Farnon, a country cobbler. We see him make a simple five-mile journey to town and back. We meet a wide variety of colourful characters along the way such as the iconoclastic Kitsy Rainey and conventional Huby Patterson. But the hook of this play is – Pat Farnon cannot talk. Instead of hearing him converse with others, we hear his thoughts, hopes and aspirations.
I admired Murfi’s characterization and ability to change from one character to another in a split second. It was visually pleasing and never hard to follow and understand which character was speaking.
The characters were perfectly scripted and you felt as if you were actually meeting locals from the town. The story was simple and told with good old Irish humour but never felt cheesy. It had a nostalgic feel which strongly affected the audience. Pat’s enthusiasm for life radiated onto the spectators continually throughout his ups and downs.
The set was bare. The lights were kept to a minimum and the only sound effects were made by Murfi himself who can play a very convincing dog. The design overall could have been perhaps expanded but for me it worked the way it was. The decision to keep the staging of the production so minimalistic was a clever device as it in turn reflected Pat’s simple life. This added to the play on a whole.
While this play had no complex plotline, it was full of life lessons and I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it ultimately uplifting. Murfi had a continual optimistic outlook and celebrated the life of ordinary people. It is a play for all ages and all walks of life. The play hooks you in from start to finish and I would highly recommend it.
Backstage Theatre Longford kindly supported this event.
Maryanne Brasil from Free Radicals Youth Theatre in Tralee offers another Young Critic video review.
Here Maryanne reviews Fishamble’s production of Underneath by Pat Kinevane, following it’s performance at St. John’s Theatre in Listowel,Co.Kerry.
Underneath is currently at the the Edinburgh Fringe at Dance Base until Aug 30th.
Maryanne Brasil is a member of NAYD Young Critics for 2015
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.