NAYD’S Young Critics programme

This week we are fighting fit and back in action, with an account of NAYD’s Young Critics weekend by Andy McLoughlin!


The Young Critics Workshop took place last weekend over the course of three days and there’s a lot to talk about so I suppose the best place to start is at the start.

About two months ago, after drama, a senior DYT member came in to talk to us about this Young Critics programme in Dublin she had been to. You go see two plays over the course of 3 days in April and again in October. Accommodation and food would be provided and you would get classes on how to analyse theatrical productions. It seemed strange at first to be learning about theatre outside the context of actually being involved, but the idea appealed to me. I knew almost nothing about theatre compared to my almost embarrassing obsession with the rest of pop culture, and this would be a great opportunity to learn a thing or two.

   I filled out the form, which included a very short critical review of a play I had seen recently. This was easier said than considering, as I’ve mentioned, I really didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. But I did my best and came up with a smooth 150 words and sent off the form off to NAYD with my fingers crossed. A few weeks later, I got a call from Alan King, the Youth Theatre Officer in charge of the programme, letting me know I had gotten in. I stifled my girlish squeals of excitement and began preparing for the course.

  After no time at all I found myself at the GPO meeting up with the rest of the participants in the course to be bussed over to the Marino institute for the first day of activities. That day we all got to know each other through drama games, awkward small talk and Shakespearean battle sequences. When the two workshops were done we were shown to our bedrooms and hung out in the common room, sharing in-jokes and generally getting on the banter train.

  The next morning was when the fun really began. We got up at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. and went down to the first workshop. It was here that we discussed things like the role of the critic, who a critic writes for, why they are important etc. After that we discussed the plays we were going to see that afternoon. I had already seen  “Quietly” by Owen McCafferty and reviewed it to get into the course, but “An Ideal Husband” by Oscar Wilde was something I knew almost nothing about aside from the brief bits and pieces of research I had done before the course.

  We went into Dublin at around 12 and after a quick bite to eat, we went straight to the first play. I wasn’t expecting much from “An Ideal Husband” as I’ve never considered myself to be a fan of period dramas and a play about aristocrats and extramarital affairs really wasn’t my scene. I was shocked to find that the play compared more to “The Thick of It” than “Downton Abbey” with its non-stop one liners and bumbling politicians.

  After the show we were treated to a conversation with Marty Rea, who played Lord Goring in the play. After gushing about his fantastic physical performance for an appropriate amount of time, we got down to asking questions. He was full of great advice and insights, from editing out the vaguely sexist parts of the play, to what it’s really like getting into acting young (not to mention the fine art of the tongue twister).

  From there we took a short break before going to the next play, Quietly by Owen McCafferty. I had seen it before and it isn’t exactly a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sort of play, but it’s always nice to get a closer look at something in a different setting. After the dynamic and relentless adventure of “An Ideal Husband” and the boiling tension of “Quietly” we were too exhausted to do anything else and went back to the college to catch some shut-eye.

  The next morning was a bittersweet experience. It being our third and last day, the initial awkwardness between us had subsided but was replaced by the underlying knowledge that it would be our last few hours together. We went down to the workshop room one last time for a lengthy discussion about the plays we had seen. We split up into four groups to discuss the plays and each group then elected 2 spokespeople to speak on a panel about the plays we had seen. It was then that we realised what we had really learned over that weekend. I was thinking about things like the role of a director in a play and the importance of personal opinion in analysis that had never even crossed my mind before.

Overall this will certainly be a weekend to remember. And not just because of the free accommodation and food either. It’s refreshing to spend so much time around so many people who are smarter than you, but share a common fascination with the art we’re so privileged to consume in the first world. All of that’s left me looking forward tremendously to the second weekend of the course this autumn.


A week of working with Aoife Gallagher!

So what can I say, I suppose it’s my turn to write a blog entry that is both interesting, fun, thought provoking yet light all at once, so no biggie really! So after thinking about it a bit I’ve decided to simply write about the great week of work experience that I had with Amy and Christina plus some thoughts that have accumulated in my head during said week, fascinating I know! So work experience is definitely not something I’m very accustomed to and I’m pretty sure that It would be a disaster for most employers to have me under their wing as I have extremely little street sense (buses scare me.) But anyway, Amy and I were both doing work experience together that week and our first main hurdle during it was public transport, buses and trains! Until last year I hadn’t even ventured alone on one of these things without an adult but during the week there was no other choice, no other way, but you know what? It was grand!, yeah sure it was confusing at first because on one of the days we had to get 2 buses at select times and at individual bus stops but it was a challenge and also on Thursday we were pretty sure we had boarded the wrong train! The first few days Amy and I were reading through plays, writing ideas for our play about fairy tales and gender identity and roles and discussing Paddy’s day ideas.I must admit that I felt quite sophisticated while doing this as we both also tried out all the cafés around Drogheda (Insomnias coffee was too hot, Esquires was wonderful and BB’s was decent). It was really enjoyable but after the first few days I was really looking forward to some drama classes which definitely didn’t disappoint. Our first class on Thursday was in a Prosper centre which was something I hadn’t heard of until then and it was in Portmarnock. It was a class for people with disabilities, mostly people with Down’s Syndrome and it was great fun! We did hip hop in the morning (yeah I was pretty rubbish at that) and then drama class in the evening. Being in the group and partaking in the class was much less nerve wracking then I thought it would be, I’ve never had any experience with people with Down’s Syndrome so I honestly didn’t know what to expect but they were a lovely bunch of people and it was a pretty damn good class. On Friday which was sadly the last day I was in the Riasc centre near Swords (or in Swords I’m not really too sure) What a beautiful building it was! I could just live there, so many rooms, there was a children’s room with toys and a little tent and a library room that had lovely sofas, purple carpets and a big wooden desk, it was domestic heaven, there was a tv room with a huge bean bag in the middle, a really groovy sofa with a tv, there was a board room with a long table overlooking a great stage, yeah there were a lot of intricate, eye pleasing rooms. The class itself was great craic, I actually found it very relaxing and they were a lovely group as well. This group was making a murder mystery film in the coming weeks so and we were essentially coming up with ideas, creating scenes and just messing around with props all inspired by murder mystery. So we came up with the idea of having cops and an overall evil villain mastermind I mean this film sounds like it will be class when it’s finished! When I was there they all really made me feel part of it as we were coming up with ideas which made it even more enjoyable. The following Friday Amy and I travelled up to the centre again because it was the start of shooting for the film. The cops were in white and the baddies were in black, in the first scene I was sitting in this nice plush chair, with cookies beside the wooden desk looking very evil while Mark, a guy from the group, was doing the voice of the main villain through a distorted microphone, it was a cool idea. The next scene had the baddies around a meeting table watching this very video of the villain who you couldn’t see (adding to the mystery of it all) giving them instructions about some sort of blueprint of the Riasc centre, which was very clever, and adding a menacing threat at the end if they fail. Afterward BAM the cops come in and arrest the baddies, it was rough and energetic and it made for an excellent scene. There was also a great scene where the unsuspected, innocent secretary poisons two cops in the station through chocolate chip cookies, Yum. This class was fab, I have nothing but positive things to say about it, I’m sure gonna miss going to, it was tons of fun and a memorable experience. On the Friday evening of my work experience I went to a class that made me feel exhausted afterwards. It was back in Drogheda and it was the younger members of DYT or as I like to call them, the babies of DYT. Of course they weren’t really babies, I think the age range is 12 to 14 but they were so energetic and fun and crazy and we played some intriguing games, I think one was called Evolution which was probably my favourite. The kids were great bundles of energy, loved it. All in all this week of work experience just made me love drama even more, I don’t know what more to say dear readers, at the start of TY I just thought that work experience would be working in a monotonous, repetitive shop or doing something I’m not in the least bit interested in but doing my work experience with Christina was just like a full week of drama and fun so I’ll have to give it five stars, it was great!