Young Critics On The Edge- Panel Discussion – Full Audio

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Young Critics On The Edge Panel Discussion Photo Credit: Alan King 

On Thursday July 7th, twelve Young Critics from all across the UK and Ireland met for the final time as part of Young Critics On The Edge.

During this session the Young Critics presented their findings to an audience of Symposium Delegates at BCU Birmingham. Here they discussed their process over the previous four days. They also provided critical responses to the four performances they attended as part of Young Critics On The Edge.

The session was chaired by Anna Galligan from Barnstorm Theatre Company with technical support by Alan King of the National Association for Youth Drama (Ireland)

You can listen to the Full Edited recording of the session here

Or you can listen to the session in smaller sections here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A big thank you to all the On The Edge Festival staff for all their kindness and goodwill over the five days in Birmingham.

 

Young Critics On The Edge  is a collaboration between Barnstorm Theatre Company,NAYD (National Association for Youth Drama) Ireland and Mess Up The Mess, Get the Chance (Wales) in conjunction with the Symposium strand of theASSITEJ Artistic Gathering for 2016.

 

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A Critical Response to Brush by Andy McLoughlin, Young Critic On The Edge

 

Brush

Birmingham Mac

On The Edge Festival

Aged 4+

At its beginning, Brush sets itself up as a play for young people which thrives on creating magic from simplicity.

Made by a Korean company, Theatre Haddangse, and starring Korean actors, there exists a language barrier which limits the expressive options of the performers from the spoken word to the visual and audible as they tell their story. At least initially, the show rises to this challenge very well.

The tale of a child venturing into the woods in search of a God who will grant him a baby brother seems to fit the mold of the coming of age story very comfortably. But the simplicity of the play is even more apparent in its more technical aspects.

The set initially consists of a triptych of flats covered in paper on which the actors can paint the setting of each scene.

Using a few simple brush strokes the actors can literally paint a picture of the world they are prevented from describing with words. But the really wondrous moments come when it is revealed that there is more to the set than meets the eye. In moments that almost feel more like magic tricks than theatre, puffs of smoke, soundscapes, silouhettes and puppets are introduced, seemingly from out of thin air. It is this ability to make us expect simplicity and give us spectacle that keeps us on our toes in the plays opening few scenes.

It is excellently scored by a musician who is present onstage throughout the performance.

It is this feeling that we are given at the start of theatre being not just performed, but created in front of our very eyes, that promises to give us the sense of awe we associate with children’s theatre.

At this early point in the play, two things are clear: 1) If this play is going to be memorable, it will be for individual moments of genuine wonder. 2) These theatre makers are capable of showing impressive levels of creativity in executing those moments.

Unfortunately, this play is also an excellent example of the inherent difficulties of relying on these unpredictable flourishes to keep your audience captivated. As the play progresses, we begin to expect to be surprised, and so the performers were forced with the choice of either becoming predictable and boring, or escalating the spectacle and getting further and further away from the simplicity that made the show so watchable to begin with.

One way to get around this problem is to have a strong narrative backbone to structure the play around, but this would prove to be the show’s Achilles’ heel. The tale which lies at the play’s centre has the structure and familiarity of a Western fairytale, but rather than develop or explore the central characters and themes contained in it, the play seems to fall back again on its increasingly extravagant lighting and design tricks, which can only hold the attention of an audience for so long. None of this is to say that you necessarily need a traditional hero’s journey style structure in order for an audience to feel invested. But at the end of the day, the type of story which Theatre Haddangse have decided to tell here is designed to be told in a very traditional way and by surrendering story to style to an increasing degree over the course of the production, something integral to the piece as a whole does seem to have been lost.

If nothing else, an audience member, be they child or adult, who walks out of this production will have seen something genuinely novel to them, and very often that is enough to make a theatre experience worthwhile.

But for all their originality, Haddangse seem to have neglected some of these more basic, tried and tested aspects of storytelling, which are really necessary to keep an audience engaged, especially one aimed at such a young audience.

Brush finished its run at On The Edge on Tuesday July 5th.

Andy McLoughlin

Come join Young Critics On The Edge  on July 7th  in the BCU Parkside Building, Lecture Theatre from 5-6.30 to hear the Young Critics critical responses to several productions from On The Edge .

Learn about more Young Critics that are On The Edge here 

Young Critics On The Edge  is a collaboration between Barnstorm Theatre Company,NAYD (National Association for Youth Drama) Ireland and Mess Up The Mess, Get the Chance (Wales) in conjunction with the Symposium strand of the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering for 2016.

 

Young Critics On The Edge -Day One- A Lesson in Listening by Andy McLoughlin

On Sunday July 3rd, twelve young people from across the UK and Ireland arrived in Birmingham for On The Edge The World Festival of Theatre For Young Audiences.

In the first of our blog posts Andy McLoughin reflects on our first day together and asks some big questions about the week ahead. 



Andy McLoughlin – Young Critics On The Edge in Birmingham. Photo Credit: Saoirse Anton



When the eleven other Young Critics and I arrived in Birmingham, we were not exactly in conditions that you would call “conducive to ease and comfort”. The majority of us were in a city we’d never visited, surrounded by people we didn’t know, in the midst of a sprawling international theatre festival. We were not by any means in a position to form instant friendships.

But for me, my major fear is not to do with the people I will be watching theatre with, but the theatre itself. The reality of the situation is that the majority of the theatre we will be watching is simply not for me. Much of it will aimed at people who have yet to hit puberty, and the rest will likely be made with a very specific aspect of what you might call “teen culture” in mind. These assumptions may yet be proven wrong, but as of right now it’s seeming pretty hard to ignore the looming question, “Who am I to say whether this theatre is any good if I’m not the one who’s supposed to like it?”

Our first workshops with Alan King and Anna Galligan showed me that the key to tackling both these problems (how to relate to strangers and how to appreciate that which you can’t relate to) might be the same: empathy. 

For now I am tentatively prepared to say that my main take away from the workshop is that all that is required to fairly judge that which is truly unfamiliar to you, be it person or play, is that you must understand what it is they are trying to communicate and why. In the workshop we were able to do this simply by allowing each other to listen and talk. Whether this principle still holds outside of the highly controlled environment of a drama workshop remains to be seen. 

I look forward to finding out.

Young Critics On The Edge is a 5 day-long programme to develop critical analysis skills in young people aged 18–25 as part of On The Edge The World Festival of Theatre For Young Audiences.

Young Critics On The Edge  is a collaboration between Barnstorm Theatre Company, NAYD (National Association for Youth Drama) Ireland and Mess Up The Mess, Get the Chance (Wales) in conjunction with the Symposium strand of theASSITEJ Artistic Gathering for 2016.

Meet these Young Critics that are On The Edge (PT 1)

On the 3rd of July, 12 Young Critics from across Ireland and the UK will descend upon Birmingham for the THE WORLD FESTIVAL OF THEATRE FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES.

In the run up to to the Festival we will be profiling the Young Critics who will participating at On the Edge 

First up it’s Saoirse and Andy from Ireland. Both were participants on the National Association for Youth Drama’s Young Critics programme in 2013 and 2014 respectively

Saoirse Anton

Saoirse Anton (1)

Saoirse Anton – Young Critic On The Edge

 

I was an NAYD Young Critic in 2013, having been involved in Youth Theatre since I was about 13. Now, 3 years later, I have just finished my second year of English Literature and Drama in Trinity College Dublin. Alongside University, I author my own theatre-based blog, Sitting on the Fourth Wall,as well as writing for The Reviews Hub, University Times, and TCD Rant & Rave. I have also worked on a number of arts and theatre projects recently, including sitting on a number of Arts Council panels, being part of the panel presenting the Dublin 2020 European Capital of Culture bid, speaking at Theatre Forum’s APAC 2015 and 2016, and mentoring in theatre criticism with NAYD.

I’m looking forward to the chance to revisit the Young Critics model with new people in a new format and build on what I learned first time round with the experience I have since, and have an action packed week in the ever-exciting world of theatre for young audiences!

Andrew McLoughlin

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Andy McLoughlin – Young Critic On The Edge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A member of Droichead Youth Theatre since 2013, Andy has been involved in Young Critics for almost as long as he’s been watching theatre. Following key roles in Around The World in Eighty Days and The Laramie Project, at the moment Andy is involved in compiling an anthology of original plays as part of Droichead Youth Theatre’s 25th Anniversary Celebrations. Currently studying Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Sociology in Trinity College Dublin, he has a particular interest in the opportunities and difficulties in using narrative to explore social issues. This question will be at the fore of Droichead Youth Theatre’s upcoming adaptation of Tom Swift’s The Leaving.

Come join Young Critics On The Edge at Birmingham Repertory Theatre on July 7th  in the Parkside Building, Lecture Theatre from 5-6.30 to hear the Young Critics critical responses to several productions from On The Edge 

Young Critics On The Edge  is a collaboration between Barnstorm Theatre Company,NAYD (National Association for Youth Drama) Ireland and Mess Up The Mess, Get the Chance (Wales) in conjunction with the Symposium strand of the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering for 2016.