The Reading Room

Here you will find articles, interviews and links categorised under Youth Theatre Ireland’s three main areas of interest:

Have You Got Something To Say?

Youth Theatre Ireland invites contributions from our own members and individuals involved in the fields of theatre, youth work and education. If you would like to contribute to the Reading Room, contact Rhona.

Youth Drama and Theatre

Unlocking Demand - Youth theatre and the future of youth arts policy in Ireland

Fíona Ní Chinnéide (2014)

In light of the development of the enviable statement of commitment and intent that is Time to Shine: Scotland's Youth Arts Strategy For Ages 0-25, Fíona Ní Chinnéide assesses whether recent policy developments present the foundations of a campaign for a national youth arts strategy in Ireland.

Download Unlocking Undemand - Youth Theatre and the future of youth arts policy in Ireland.

YDI Advocacy for Youth Theatre - Task done?

Paul Roberts OBE (2013)

In this article from Youth Drama Ireland (2012-2013) Paul Roberts attempts to broaden, deepen, clarify and challenge the current approach of all those who advocate for youth theatre. He places this advocacy within the broader context of a creative and cultural entitlement for young people. Paul is eager to continue the debate and discuss any of the issues raised. Contact Katie for Paul's contact details.

Download YDI Advocacy for Youth Theatre - Task done?

Essentially Youth Theatre

Jonothan Neelands (2008)
Professor Jonothan Neelands delivered a keynote address as part of Youth Theatre Ireland’s Starting The Debate seminar, May 2008. In this address he sought to identify the core qualities of youth theatre.

Download Essentially Youth Theatre by Jonothan Neelands (13 pages, 120k)


Youth Drama: The ‘Youth Work Act?’

In this article from Issue 12 of Youth Drama Ireland, Maurice Devlin, Senior Lecturer in Applied Social Sciences, NUI Maynooth, reflects on the benefits of participation in youth theatre/drama for the development of the social being and how drama as an artform is dense with possibilities for exploring and expressing themes and issues that go right to the heart of “human being”.

Download Youth Drama: ‘Youth Work Act?’ by Maurice Devlin (4 pages, 904k)


Speaking Their Language: Articulating the Value of Youth Theatre

Ben Cameron (2005) 

An address given by Ben Cameron, Director of Theatre Communications Group (USA) as part of the Inspiring Voices series.

Download Speaking Their Language by Ben Cameron (8 pages, 125k)


Magic & Mayhem

Paul Mercier (2004)

Paul Mercier addresses the mission to put youth theatre where it belongs and to give the young people of this country a chance to take part in the wonderful adventure that is youth theatre.

Download Magic & Mayhem by Paul Mercier (2 pages, 68k)


Life After Charisma: Some Thoughts on Youth Theatre Structures

Emelie FitzGibbon

This article looks at the conditions necessary for the development of sustainable youth theatres. Emelie FitzGibbon observes that, while charisma and energy provide the basis for much of a youth theatre's activity, structures are essential for its long-term survival.

Download Life After Charisma by Emelie Fitzgibbon (2 pages, 55k)


Who Would Miss Us?

Youth Theatre Ireland asked some tough questions about youth theatre in 2003 including:

  • Why does youth theatre exist?
  • Who would miss youth theatre?
  • How should youth theatre go about telling others that it's important?

Ten organisations responded. These responses were published in Youth Drama Ireland 2003 in an article edited by Ali Fitzgibbon:

Download responses

The questions raised some interesting responses. Read a selection of the responses in full below:

Response from Declan Gorman, Artistic Director of Upstate Theatre Company

Response from David Grant, Head of Drama Studies, Queen’s University, Belfast

Response from Tania Carlisle and Richard Gaston, Arts & Business (NI)



21 Years a Growin’

Ophelia Byrne (2001)

Some of the people involved with Youth Theatre Ireland over its first 21 years reminisce about the association’s landmark events and achievements.

Download 21 Years a Growin’ by Ophelia Byrne (3 pages, 297k)


Questions, Changes & Challenges: The Quest for the Grail of Perfection in a Rapidly Changing Landscape

Emelie FitzGibbon (2001)

Twenty one years after the foundation of Youth Theatre Ireland, much has changed in drama and in society. Emelie FitzGibbon stresses the need for an evaluation of the constituents of good drama practice in a changing society.

Download Questions, Changes & Challenges by Emelie Fitzgibbon (4 pages, 141k)


Handing Over the Archives: The Ulster Youth Theatre

Imelda Foley (1998)

The Youth Drama Scheme, founded and managed by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, came of age in 1997. A new independent umbrella organisation, the Ulster Association of Youth Drama, was formed in 1998. In this article, Imelda Foley describes the hand-over and looks back at some highlights.

Download Handing Over the Archives by Imelda Foley (3 pages, 106k)

Drama & Theatre Practice

Pure joy, mischief and a sea of smiles

Anne O'Gorman, Senior Project Officer for Youth Arts at the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), interviews Adam McGuigan, Artistic Director, of Barefeet Theatre Zambia, about his journey to create a life-changing theatre company for children and young people. Since its foundation in 2006, Barefeet Theatre has used play, creativity and empowerment to give vulnerable children a chance at a better life. Their theatre workshops work with two thousand children in forty communities in Zambia and on the national stage at the annual Barefeet Youth Arts Festival. They have developed their own methodology Participatory Process Performance.

Download Pure joy, mischief and a sea of smiles

Four Values for Constructive Critique

The Wonderful Freedom of Not Being Finished: Four Values for Constructive Critique is an article by John Borstel, co-author of Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process: a method of getting useful feedback on anything you make, from dance to dessert. In the article he, and some of his collaborators, describe how the critical response process works and how it can be used to enrich and develop the creative experience.

Download Four Values for Constructive Critique by John Borstel (4 pages, 272k)


Interview with Pat Kiernan

Director Tom Creed interviews Pat Kiernan, founder of Corcadorca Theatre Company (and former youth theatre member) about the development of the company over the past 20 years.

Download Pat Kiernan Interview (3 pages, 776k)


Change or Die: An Evolutionary Approach to Dramaturgy

Ruth Little is a dramaturg and former Literary Manager of the Royal Court Theatre in London. In this article she is in conversation with Síle Ní Bhróin, Associate Director of Graffiti Theatre Company, about her innovative approach to creating theatre.

Download Change or Die by Ruth Little (4 pages, 700kb)


Making Contact, Creating Communities

Combining experimentation with participation, and involving young people in the discussion at every point along the way, Contact is an award-winning theatre space in Manchester, which is dedicated to bringing work to new and diverse audiences. In this interview Willie White interviews John McGrath, Artistic Director of Contact

Download Making Contact, Creating Communities (12 pages, 80k)


What’s the Story?

Jonathan Fox (2006)

An abridged version of the address given by Jonathan Fox, founder of Playback Theatre, as part of the Inspiring Voices series.

Download What’s the Story? by Jonathan Fox (5 pages, 118k)


Reflections on the Practice and Approach of Playback

Fiona McDonagh (2006)

An article by Fiona McDonagh, youth theatre practitioner, outlining how the methods and processes of Playback can be applied in a youth theatre context.

Download Reflections on the Practice and Approach of Playback by Fiona McDonagh (2 pages, 75k)


Now Where Did They Learn To Do That?

Rebecca Bartlett (2005)

Rebecca Bartlett reflects on youth theatre directors’ need for some ‘imaginative therapy’ and suggests some ways to find it.

Download Now Where Did They Learn to do That? by Rebecca Bartlett (4 pages, 42k)


Mike Leigh: The Playmaker

An Interview with Martin Murphy

Award-winning film director, Mike Leigh, developed his innovative devising techniques with a youth theatre in Birmingham. In this interview, Martin Murphy talks to the director of Secrets and Lies about youth theatre, creativity and storytelling.

Download The Playmaker interview (3 pages, 441k)


Chinese Whispers

Gerry Stembridge and Mark O’Rowe (2001)

In collaboration on Made in China for the Peacock Theatre, Stembridge and O’Rowe discuss the intricacies of writing and directing.

Download Chinese Whispers by Gerry Stembridge and Mark O’Rowe (4 pages, 111k)

Learning through Drama

Youth Drama Spurs Innovative Ireland

Finbarr Bradley, co-author of Capitalising on Culture, Competing on Difference, (Blackhall, 2008) offers his reflections on the debate on the need to restore the Irish economy. He looks at what the impact might be on young people if a concerted effort was made to foster a strong sense of cultural identity. He asks questions such as: how can involvement in youth drama generate a sense of ownership that empowers rather than tries to ‘manage’ or ‘control’ a generation? Is culture, not science or technology, key to Ireland's attempt to become a creative ‘smart’ economy?

Download Youth Drama Spurs Innovative Ireland by Finbarr Bradley (4 pages, 2MB)


The Arts & Irish Education: Some Lessons from the USA

Marian McCarthy (2004)

Marian McCarthy (Department of Education, University College Cork) places the research findings of Shirley Brice Heath in an Irish context.

Download The Arts & Irish Education by Marian McCarthy (6 pages, 120k)


The Arts & Irish Education: Learning More Than You Know in Youth Drama

Shirley Brice Heath (2004)

Shirley Brice Heath on how youth theatre stretches thinking, language and ways of being.

Download The Arts & Irish Education by Shirley Brice Heath (4 pages, 111k)

More Suggested Reading

Want to read more about drama and theatre but not sure where to start? Download Suggested Reading.

Youth Theatre Ireland’s in-house library contains a wealth of useful books, from script anthologies to workshop games and resource packs. Contact Katie to find out more.

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UCC Youth Theatre is back on Tues 19th Jan for its weekly online classes with Julie O’Leary – open to young people……

14 January