NAYD’S Young Critics hit Dublin for 1916/2016 by Jack Synnott

Young Critics was an absolutely unforgettable weekend filled with everything a theatre loving 16 year old could ask for.

NAYD Young Critics 2016

NAYD’s Young Critics 2016. Photo credit: Alan King

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.

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NAYD’s Young Critics enjoying the sunshine at The Marino Institute of Education. Photo credit: Alan King

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.

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Janet Moran (Mrs. Gogan) meets the Young Critics after the matinee of The Plough And The Stars. Photo credit: Alan King

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.

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NAYD Young Critics enjoy some intense post show discussions over dinner. Photo credit: Alan King

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.

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NAYD’s Young Critics arrive at the Peacock Theatre for Tina’s Idea Of Fun. Photo credit: Alan King

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.

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Cast of Tina’s Idea of Fun by Sean P.Summers. Photo credit: Ros Kavanagh

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.

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A Young Critic’s thoughts on The Plough And The Stars. Photo credit: Alan King

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.

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Dr. Karen Fricker listens on as NAYD Young Critic Jack Synnott gives his thoughts on the productions under discussion

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!

 

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Jack Synnott is a member of Droichead Youth Theatre  in Drogheda, Co.Louth and an NAYD Young Critic for 2016

Underneath by Pat Kinevane, a Young Critic video review

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

The buzz is electric – NAYD Young Critics Programme was an enlightening experience.

 

Photo Credit: Allen Kiely

NAYD Young Critics 2014

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.

Photo credit: Allen Kiely

NAYD Young Critic Emma Gallagher Photo credit: Allen Kiely

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.

 

The Young Critics say goodbye for another year  Photo credit: Allen Kiely

The Young Critics say goodbye for another year
Photo credit: Allen Kiely

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SWING SWUNG INTO ACTION FROM THE FIRST WORD

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

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

First up, Sophie Quin reviews Swing 

 

Swing by Steve Blount, Peter Daly, Gavin Kostick and Janet Moran, directed by Peter Daly
Performed by Steve Blount and Janet Moran
The Source Arts Centre, Thurles, County Tipperary, performance viewed on 26 June 2014
Review by Sophie Quin

 

Janet Moran and Steve Blount in Swing by Fishamble Theatre Co.

Janet Moran and Steve Blount in Swing by Fishamble Theatre Co.

“Is… Is this swing?”
And so from the first timid and engaging question put to the audience, Swing caught my attention as it danced into a familiar, yet new world. Not being a general admirer of dance shows (I find the lack of dialogue often compromises plot), I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.
In a swing dance class May (Janet Moran) and Joe (Steve Blount) meet for the first time. Their lives have stalled and they can’t decide what to do next. The class offers them an escape from the ordinary, to move on from the past, and possibly to live their lives anew. Drawing on the familiar issues of recession, divorce, emigration, love, changing your mind, and the omnipresent risk of failure, Swing retained a deep-rooted and quintessentially Irish style, as it mixed the serious with the comical and used humour as a possible solution to life’s problems.

Throughout the class we’re introduced to an array of characters: moody dance instructors, terrorised beginners, old lovers, and veteran swing dancers, each bringing their own stories to the stage. The actors swop characters multiple times by yelling “change places,” often at awkward moments; with a gesture, voice or posture they become a different person before your eyes. At times the transitions were so rapid that it appeared that there were far more than two performers onstage. Each character retained their own personality, even if some were slightly stereotypical. For instance the “foreign girl” was definitely foreign, and it was obvious that another character was homosexual from the cliché way they spoke and moved. Yet this was easily carried and probably necessary since there was such a varied range of characters. Blount and Moran interpreted each character with great flair. The direction by Peter Daly ensured the performance was crisp and elegant, but could also incorporate the gut-wrenching awkwardness of an argument taken too far. The show was funny but not tactless: none of the gags were out of context.

Fishamble has once again shown that it is at the forefront of new playwriting in Ireland. Swing is part of the company’s Show in a Bag scheme, in which all props and costumes are required to be kept to a minimum so performances can be scaled up to fill a large venue, or down to fit into a small tightly-squeezed café. This economical design meant, in the case of Swing, that focus was on performance and not an overly distracting set, which consisted of two chairs, a bag, a bicycle helmet, water bottles, a disco ball, and the costumes.
Whether you interpret Swing as an analysis of who and what we are rihgt now in Ireland, or as a jovial comedy about ordinary lives and the beginnings of friendship, it is a play that showcases much that is exciting and innovative in performance today. When the disco ball flashed into life, reflecting across the venue, I too was swept up into this ordinary yet extraordinary world. If you get a chance swing along to see this great and effective piece of contemporary Irish theatre.

 

Sophie Quin is a member of Fracture Youth Theatre in Tipperary and an NAYD Young Critic for 2014

Feeling Wicked

Wicked The Musical
Bord Gais Energy Theatre

Review by Deirdre Wray
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This musical was as amazing as it was when I saw it in the Apollo Victoria theatre in London in 2012.

Two amazing actresses, Niki Davis Jones and Emily Tierney played the roles of Galinda and Elpheba. They were both powerful singers and interpreted the roles very well in their own ways.
The dragon was just as good and the costumes and dancing were also spectacular.

It is a real family musical, which shows the background to the story of the Wizard of Oz and what really happens and who is evil after all.

If you haven’t seen it yet I would recommend it hugely. Although tickets can be pricey because it’s the Bord Gais you may find some cheap seats left but even if you did pay top price it is well worth it.

5 stars from my sisters and me and I’m sure from others as well.

Performance reviewed on Jan 3rd and posted Feb 12th  2014
Deirdre Wray was a participant on NAYD Young Critics 2013

Put that in your notebook- I,Malvolio

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Michael Mc Grath 2013

About NAYD Young Critics

The Young Critics is a programme of the National Association for Youth Drama (NAYD)  in Ireland.

NAYD is the development organisation for youth theatre and youth drama in Ireland. NAYD supports youth drama in practice and policy, and supports the sustained development of youth theatres in Ireland.

NAYD advocates the inherent value and the unique relationship between young people and theatre as an artform, and is committed to extending and enhancing young people’s understanding of theatre and raising the artistic standards of youth theatre across the country.

The Young Critics Programme is part of NAYD’s commitment to developing youth theatre members’ awareness and appreciation of the aesthetic of theatre.

The Young Critics Programme brings youth theatre members together to:

  • attend workshops in the critique of professional theatre;
  • attend professional performances at leading Irish festivals;
  • give their own critiques of the performances at the Young Critics Panel.

Young Critics 2014

Photo Credit: Allen Kiely

NAYD Young Critics 2014 at Dublin Theatre Festival Oct 5th, Project Arts Centre

2014 saw several new strands to the Young Critics programme. As well as our two weekends attending theatre in Dublin,the Young Critics also progammed a theatre trip to their local venue. From here they recorded a video blog review and several were invited to write written reviews.

The reviews can be read here 

This was a really great dimension to the Young Critics progarmme and one that allowed even more young people have the Young Critics experience.

This year the Young Critics went to see:

Quietly by Owen McCafferty at the Peacock

An Ideal Husband at The Gate Theatre

Frequency 783 (Brokentalkers) at Project Arts Centre

The Seagull and Other Birds ( Pan Pan) at Project Arts Centre

Ganesh Versus The Third Reich (Back to Back Theatre) at O’Reilly Theatre

The self programmed shows during the summer included Heartbreak House at the Abbey, Fishamble’s Swing, Ballyturk, Lambo, [Title of Show] at New Theatre.

Young Critics 2013

There are two separate strands to Young Critics 2013.  The first strand are the Young Critics who meet for the two sessions over the year. This group met for the first time in March. On this weekend they were brought to see two productions. They were

I Malvolio , written  and performed by Tim Crouch at the Peacock Theatre

King Lear by William Shakespeare directed by Selina Cartmell at the Abbey Theatre.

This group will come together again in October to view and discuss work as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival at the Young Critics Panel

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Young Critics 2013 arrive for King Lear at The Abbey Theatre

Young Critics 2013 arrive for King Lear at The Abbey Theatre

 

The second strand of the programme was The Young Critics International Encounter / Talking Shop

This strand involved a different group of young people aged 14-16 coming together to watch and discuss work as part of the Cork Midsummer Festival. This group was made up of 9 young people from across Ireland, 4 from BiondekBühne  Youth Theatre, Baden in Austria and 5 from Stamsund in the Lofoten Islands in Norway.

 

This group explored two different but complimentary models of working, that of the Young Critics alongside the Talking Shop Model.

International Young Critics

Young Critics 2012

Young Critics 2012

In 2012  we were delighted to announce an expanded Young Critics programme. In addition to two weekends in Dublin, participants would also attend  performances at the Cork Midsummer Festival.

The dates and locations are:

  • April 13-15, Dublin
  • June 22-24, Cork Midsummer Festival
  • October 5-7, Dublin Theatre Festival
NAYD Young Critics at Dublin Theatre Festival 2012

NAYD Young Critics at Dublin Theatre Festival 2012

 

Participants will attend at least eight performances while on the programme. They will also participate in workshops and discussions with international theatre critic Dr. Karen Fricker and Alan King, NAYD’s Youth Theatre Officer. The final weekend in Dublin will feature the Young Critics Panel, a public panel discussion, organised as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

It is an exciting opportunity for youth theatre members with an interest in theatre criticism. To quote a Young Critic from last year:

It has opened up a whole new world of different types of theatre, and different ways of looking at theatre.

The programme is open to members, aged 16 or over, from NAYD affiliated youth theatres. Participation is free of charge: the cost of travel, accommodation and food is covered.

The Young Critics Panel takes the form of a public discussion forum and has taken place in October for the last number of years, as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

In this blog the Young Critics will be sharing their views on not only the productions they have seen but also their experiences of the whole Young Critics programme

Alan King

Youth Theatre Office

NAYD

http://www.nayd.ie