“To put it bluntly it changes everything you’ve thought about theatre, your whole view, your own practice is put into question, in a good way. It has the capacity to knock an artist out of the restraints that he/she has placed themselves in and give them in a sense, a new artistic lease of life. It’s like having your world shattered in finding out Santa isn’t real, going through all the madness, then really enjoying it and then wondering why you didn’t figure out he wasn’t real in the first place.” – Brian Bennett

“I would absolutely recommend this programme. It is essential that the Next Stage continues as it provides a hothouse for thought and progression of ideas, a meeting point for like-minded peers to examine similar issues or problems in their disciplines and it is a magnificent means of equipping artists, for fuelling their belief in their work, for feeding their minds and for reminding them that they are in good company. My attitude has definitely altered as a result of the programme. I feel empowered, rejuvenated and that making work is possible.” – Louisa Caroll

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to see diverse and exciting work and reflect your own practice. You also get to meet a lot of different people and find possible collaborators. I think the more diverse the age ranges are the better.” – Edwina Casey

“I feel totally inspired by this programme and all the work that we saw. I feel it compounded certain notions for me, and altered others. I also feel that I have been given fresh eyes with which to view theatre. I’m excited again and that must and will influence future work.” – Amy Conroy

“The Next Stage is one of the riches experiences I have ever had. To be completely immersed in theatre for almost three weeks is an incredible experience. And to spend it in the company of people who are hungry to discuss, disentangle and disagree with you about the work is amazing. The programme itself is so well thought out and so well organised. The calibre of the people who we met on the programme was pretty phenomenal! The whole thing was a feast.” – Peter Daly

“Overall the weeks allowed me to re-charge the batteries and I was hugely influenced by the diversity and energy of the group as well as the guest directors. I am enormously grateful to Theatre Forum, The Abbey and The Dublin Festival for recognising the need for further training in young practitioners and I am hopeful that to spite all the economic limitations that the programme can continue to flourish.” – Shane Dempsey

“Finally, mo mhíle buíochas a chairde. Thank you for giving me a chance to move on to my next stage. I was stuck and now I’m free again. Thank you thank you!” – Clíona de Brí

“Next Stage was the most interesting, challenging, exhausting and useful programme I have ever been privileged to do. It has connected me to a whole new network of practitioners, enabled me to see at first hand the creative process of leading Irish and international practitioners, and to see world class performances and to interrogate their makers, and has already made me want to change my own practice. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, which should be the envy of every theatrical community in the world.” – Sean Denyer

“The Next Stage gives you an opportunity to immerse yourself in theatre. It’s the deep sea of theatre exploration but it also allows you to go deep within; it challenged me to ask myself questions about the work. It is an honour to be among an immensely talented group of 18 theatre makers day in day out for 18 Days going to see some of the best theatre the world has to offer. Through in depth workshopping and talking to the makers of this work you are quite simply catapulted to The Next Stage!” – Mark Fitzgerald

“This was an extraordinary chance of a lifetime to cram more learning into 18 days than you could hope to gain from in a year in college. It was remarkable how many of the cutting edge artists we saw in the festival were actually former Next Stagers themselves.” – Brian Flemming

“The next stage offers a unique opportunity to see theatre at work in one city at one time. As a performance maker, it gave me room to question my own practice in conversation with life work and 17 colleagues from different disciplines. It was stimulating, conflicting, consolidating and a whole lot of fun!” – Maud Hendricks 

“Everyone, at every stage, needs constant development and contact with work and with the people making work. The hours in the room together are invaluable and the knowledge and engagement with the kind of work being made at home and abroad is essential to stay in tune…. It is also a huge personal and professional challenge, which I would recommend to everyone.” – Lara Hickey

“It was an inspiring, thought provoking process – and I also made some valuable contacts with other participants some of whom I hope to work with in the future.” – Emma Jordan

“The exposure to international work is amazing and such a short intense period can create amazing relationships between participators and I left the programme hungry to create work and full of inspiration.” – Alma Kelliher

“A unique and inspiring opportunity to watch the full program of a theatre festival and learn from the people who have created the work.” – Zoe Lafferty

“The programme forced me to look at myself critically and challenge my work, especially in relation to examining how I work in relation to the audience, who our audiences are. It really made me value the nature of the ensemble that we already have and has inspired me to look for ways in which to really develop our ensemble and question what it is that we are doing and how we propose to do it.” – Louise Lowe 

“I’d love more disabled artists to give it a go. The networking in Next Stage is very important and also to be involved with your contemporary non disabled artists I think is essential.” – Rosaleen McDonagh

“It is an invaluable insight into theatre practice in general and an opportunity to reflect on one’s own practice. Most of all it is an opportunity to meet collaborators.” – Caitriona McLaughlin

“The Next Stage has opened my eyes to the standards and trends of international theatre. The bar, in my mind, has been raised.” – Oonagh Murphy

“This is an extraordinary opportunity and I urge that all effort is made to safeguard it in the future. It is nurturing of artists that will inevitably pay dividends in the coming years.” – Síle Ní Bhroin

“To see the entire programme in itself is reason enough. An incredible way to reignite creative embers. The group then adds more and more as you have become part of a network of like minded and yet diverse practitioners who will work together in the future”. – Liam O’Brien

“A place and a time to experiment, as a time to experience the diversity of all the world class international and Irish theatre that the festival has to offer and a freedom to explore these possibilities, a creative shot in the arm and a refocusing of your own theories and practices.  It allows you to reconnect with, or encourages you to go forth with the idea of taking risks.” – Ciarán O’Melia

“A creative shot in the head.” – Stephen Ryan

“This programme makes you feel able to risk and grow and dare to take a stand for the things of which you dream. It also gives you the opportunity to share a roller-coaster two weeks with 17 other extraordinary artists and thinkers, whose words, ideas, and spirit will change you utterly.” – Aoife Spillane-Hinks