Fiona Whelan and Rialto Youth Project with Brokentalkers



Dates: 12 May - 14 May

Show Time: 8.00pm

Tickets: €12 - €15

Previews: 12 May €12
Dates: 13 – 14 May €15/12

A live performance from artist Fiona Whelan and Rialto Youth Project (Policing Dialogues) in collaboration with Project Artists Brokentalkers.

Based on hundreds of testimonies of women in the Rialto area of Dublin’s inner city, Natural History of Hope will be performed by an intergenerational cast of local women.

Natural History of Hope is an unflinching exploration of gender and class inequality and the complexity of women’s lives told through real life stories of oppression, resilience, solidarity and hope.

Hope is a young girl.
Her Cinderella shoes are covered in glitter and light up when her feet hit the floor.
But Hope has to grow up.
She has to live in the real world.

For three nights in May, a group of women will guide her through her life.
They will show her the challenges that her life might bring and together find ways to overcome them.


Join in the conversation


“Groundbreaking exhibition”
Irish Examiner on Policing Dialogues

“An innovative project”
The Irish Times on Policing Dialogues

“A vivid insight into unequal power relations”
Vincent Browne on Policing Dialogues


Post-Show Discussion: Fri 13 May
With Brokentalkers, Fiona Whelan, Rialto Youth Project, cast members and Kathleen Lynch (UCD Professor of Equality Studies)


Running time: 75 min (no interval)

Warning: this performance includes references to addiction and violence (including sexual violence)


Bringing a group?
Discounted rates are available for groups of 8 people or more. To find out how much you could save, contact our box office team on 01 8819613 or


Natural History of Hope is an intergenerational art project (2012 – 2016) from artist Fiona Whelan and Rialto Youth Project (RYP) which explores contemporary equality issues for women of all ages in a working class urban context. This longitudinal creative enquiry evolved from a recognition of an ongoing oppressive cycle for women locally. Combining lived experience and external analyses, the project examines the influencing factors on the lives of women and girls and the conditions needed to foster hope. In 2015, following a number of local events, Fiona and RYP invited Brokentalkers to work with them to co-develop this major public performance.

Fiona Whelan is an artist with a multifaceted practice, committed to exploring power relations through durational, reciprocal engagements with people and place. In 2014, she published a critical memoir, TEN: Territory, Encounter & Negotiation, focusing on a long-term project with RYP exploring young people’s relationship to power and policing which manifested in multiple dialogical encounters including The Day in Question (2009) in IMMA, and Policing Dialogues (2010) at The LAB.

In an age of inequality, where working class people are oppressed, Rialto Youth Project are working towards bringing about social change, providing an integrated youth service, based on the needs of young people and in particular those most at risk. The aims of RYP are: to offer educational, cultural, social and recreational programmes for young people in a safe and secure environment; to communicate with young people and to continue targeting and working with those most at risk; to network with other groups to improve social conditions in the community; to develop the project’s structures based on co-operation and participation; to plan, review and evaluate the project on a regular basis and to develop accordingly.

Brokentalkers are an award-winning Dublin-based theatre company formed in 2001. Under the artistic directorship of Feidlim Cannon and Gary Keegan, since 2003 Brokentalkers have built a reputation as one of Ireland’s most innovative and original theatre companies. Their work has been presented in a variety of spaces, ranging from theatres to public spaces, disused sites and the internet. Productions by Brokentalkers include The Blue Boy, This Beach, Have I No Mouth, Silver Stars.
Brokentalkers are Project Artists, an initiative of Project Arts Centre.

This performance receives financial support from the Arts Council through the Project Awards for Arts Participation and the Artist in Community Scheme, managed by Create.

The process was also supported through a long-term residency in the fifth block art studio, Dolphin House and a two-stage residency award in studio 468, co-managed by Common Ground & Rialto Development Association.


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