The frantic process of train-changing and ticket-juggling that brought Conor and I (the Scottish contingent of the Young Critics On The Edge programme) from Glasgow Central to Birmingham New Street served only to intensify my nerves about the upcoming five days. The prospect of meeting a group of new people, and being tasked with sharing thought-through critical opinions with them, fills me with some degree of paralysing dread, perhaps due to the obligation (self-imposed or otherwise) to fulfil the expectations of others.
I am delighted, however, to report that my nerves were quelled almost immediately on arrival. Meeting for the first time at the entrance to the accommodation, our travel-worn party, comprising representatives from each corner of the British Isles, clicked immediately, in a fashion rare for a group of newly-acquainted strangers.
The general gregariousness of the whole business continued into our first workshop, at the REP Theatre. Anna and Alan, our esteemed workshop leaders and custodians of our journey to critical maturity, were reassuringly friendly and delivered an adroitly structured workshop that managed both to introduce important aspects of the critical response to theatre in a free manner of didacticism or heavy-handedness, and to facilitate the development of the group’s already palpable camaraderie, without resorting to tired, laborious ‘ice-breaker’ activities.
After the workshop’s conclusion, the Young Critics headed to Wagamama’s, where noodles, green tea, and all-round good craic were merrily had. This first day on the Young Critics On The Edge programme was as interesting, engaging, and downright enjoyable as anyone could have wished for. I expect this will be a very short five days.
Freelance arts critic, drama facilitator, and theatre practitioner