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?
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.
It’s been a busy few months since the Young Critics last met in April as they have been honing their critical skills while seeing shows up and down the country.
With the Dublin Theatre Festival looming over the horizon, we reflect on some of the productions the Young Critics saw over the summer.
To whet your appetite for festival season, Young Critic Pippa Molony gives us this epic review of Ulysses at the Abbey Theatre
Elsewhere our Young Critics saw Pat Kinevane’s Silent, The Aspirations of Daise Morrow at the Black Box Theatre Galway, Asking for It and Wet Paint at the Everyman Cork, Mamma Mia on the West End, A Doll’s House at the Roscommon Arts Centre and the Deadly Wizard of Oz in Dundalk.
We will be announcing the Young Critics picks for the Dublin Theatre Festival very soon along with details of the Panel discussion itself.
Two weeks ago, Youth Theatre members took their first steps towards becoming Young Critics. Over the weekend of the 6th to the 8th of April, 16 youth theatre members met for the first time and bonded over a love of critical review.
After viewing two plays which sat at two very different ends of the performance art spectrum – The Unmanageable Sisters being a lighthearted comedy with a dark, fiery underbelly and Tryst being a heavy trip of stretched moral ambiguity and rapid-fire accusations, twists and reveals. But these plays were conjoined in topical themes – such as relationships and abortion – that left the budding critics fair ground to compare and discuss.
Discussion ran rampant, with healthy engagement of differing views and opinions fueling debate and insightful commentary. Despite the group being divided over which play they preferred, this never truly divided the group, but actually helped build critical thinking, while also teaching how to hold ground and justify an opinion – something very important for a critic.
The social backdrop a program like Young Critics sets itself upon proved no obstacle, with participants going from first greetings to Shakespearean murder in a couple of hours. Everything grew from here, especially back at the hostel. Jenga tested trust the first night, but nothing compares to what came the second – Monopoly, a tale of cheating, robbery and extortion. Some riddles were thrown about, and tunes banged out on a guitar.
This, paired with the program pushing for further exploration of the digital space, could lead to collaborative theatre reviews in the form of video & podcast. An exciting new frontier awaits the program, and this young critic cannot wait to see where this goes.
William McCabe is a member of Griese Youth Theatre in Balitore, Co.Kildare and is a Youth Theatre Ireland Young Critic for 2018.
Aaron Dobson from Leitrim Youth Theatre Company, Carrigallen shares this review of Class by Iseult Golden and David Horan
Classrooms are some of the most popular scenarios for plays – whether it be a story of a trip to the boarding school (Daisy Pulls It Off by Denise Deegan), or a teacher faced with the duty of educating youth (Alan Bennett’s The History Boys is a great example), the classroom is the perfect closed-off space for many a show. But one thing that I have never seen worked upon on the big stage is a parent-teacher meeting – and CLASS does this to perfection, and more. You could almost say…. It’s a CLASS act.
Puns aside, this production was one of the most phenomenal experiences I have had from a small-cast production in a while. The setting never changes. The tension never changes. The actors never change…but their characters do. The story revolves around Brian and Donna (played by Stephen Jones and Sarah Morris) and the struggles they face bringing up their children in a broken relationship. The standing point in the story is that their 9-year old child, Jayden, is having troubles at school – and his teacher (Will O’Connell) is intending to enforce learning support upon him, which brings great grief onto Brian specifically.
Now this alone would make for an interesting story. The could have stopped here, added little else, and the play would still be a triumph and an excellent piece of writing. But co-writers David Horan and Iseult Golden, under Horan’s direction, deserve extra appraisal for going beyond this one idea and adventuring into unknown territory. At first I was worried when I heard about the actors “reverting into the younger generation”. However, when I first seen Brian transform into Jayden and Donna into the child of a drug addict, I knew this was something special. Their childlike states gave myself and the audience the information we needed about the situation at hand without a word spoken by the parents.
The teacher himself faces some sort of internal conflict – between his own personal matters, the slowly derailing meeting and the children’s situation at their learning support. It was interesting to note how he deals with both children and parents, despite them being the same actors – For example, their transition from a dance routine to a tense, nervous situation between the same trio. This transition was flawless – especially with the parents and their kids, who could revert from being hilariously out of tune with the rest of the world to stern, stubborn, angry at the world and ever situation around them.
The ending alone was one of the key points of the play, and possibly the part that shook me the most. Of course I won’t spoil it, but it finally became clear the true nature of Donna and Brian’s relationship, and the root of the majority of the problems faced throughout the play. Ultimately, the experience was riveting and exciting, with comedic moments scattered throughout the play – but the true focus and underlying messages of terror in a school environment and possible mental issues stuck strong with me, and for this I would thoroughly recommend seeing this play.
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.
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.
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.
Class returns to the Abbey Theatre for a limited run from January 24th 2018.