For the 2023 National Youth Theatre, director Niall Cleary and playwright Eimear Hussey have worked with an ensemble of sixteen young actors and four young designers from youth theatres across Ireland over the last eighteen months to create a new play about dance, care, and agency, Like We Were Born To Move!
Director Niall Cleary on the importance of having these voices on a national stage. "Young people’s voices belong on our National stage. It’s a real honour to direct the National Youth Theatre this year, and to continue a long and happy association with YTI. I’m so proud to be working with a brilliant young playwright like Eimear Hussy and a talented and dedicated young ensemble and creative team. It’s always exciting to breathe life into a new play. “Like We Were Born to Move” is going to be very special."
How long do you wait for your Mam to come home before you have to do something about it? Who gets to fall apart? Who just has to cope? Why does asking for help feel impossible when it’s something everyone needs? Like We Were Born To Move is about waiting to be old enough to make your own decisions, and how terrifying it is when you realise you finally have to. It’s about dancers and dancing, adultified youths, and systems of care. There are catty siblings, guilty daughters, and Mam friends, fragile bodies, half-lies and honest ones. It’s about the work we’re not paid for, the pain you shouldn’t ignore, and that boyfriend you really should break up with.
Speaking at the first day of rehearsals, Youth Theatre Ireland Director Eoghan Doyle said ‘The National Youth Theatre is a highlight of the Youth Theatre Ireland calendar. We are so excited to have this ensemble of young people from all over Ireland showcasing youth theatre practice at the National Theatre. Our creative team, led by Niall Cleary, are crafting something very special. It’s also great to see the culmination of the 5-year vision for the National Youth Theatre programme, set out by Veronica Coburn being realised with a new play from by Eimear Hussey, a former youth theatre member.’
The selection of Eimear Hussey as playwright for NYT 2023 achieves one of the key artistic goals laid out in The National Youth Theatre 2019 – 2023 vision document by Veronica Coburn as Artistic Director of NYT 2018 – 2021, to have a National Youth Theatre written by a young person from an affiliated youth theatre. As Artistic Director NYT 2018 – 2021, Veronica oversaw the implementation of the initial phases of the Programme including directing the National Youth Theatre productions at the Abbey Theatre Dublin in August 2019 and 2021 with an emphasis on connection between the material being performed and the young people performing it. The concept of an artistic youth voice being key.
As part of the strategy to develop the capacity of young playwrights Veronica developed and implemented ARTiculate, a dedicated play-writing programme for young people in collaboration with ARTiculate’s current programme director Carys D. Coburn. It was through the ARTiculate programme, and its follow-on programme ARTiculate Brief, that Youth Theatre Ireland selected the playwright for NYT 2023.