The What Does He Need? immersive workshop is a one day dialogical experience which brings together a group of adults to co-create a boy, taking responsibility for guiding him though his life as he encounters the realities facing young men today. Together they explore questions of power, violence and the suppression of vulnerability in a world where men are seen as a liability to themselves and others.


Led by Brokentalkers and Fiona Whelan, each immersive workshop sees the group name their boy, describe him as a young child and journey with him as he encounters a series of complex dilemmas at different stages of his life from birth to adulthood. In response to scripted scenarios presented by a disembodied voice, the group are facilitated in conversation, discussing their boy’s needs, occasionally interrupted by a live script, which has captured and re-presents key discussion points.


The immersive workshop explores a range of themes including power, dominance, the suppression of vulnerability, male violence, male suicide, pornography, money and status. In each case, the boy character is from the same place as the group, which positions the boy’s life in a specific context, harnessing local knowledge and supporting the possibility of local solidarities.


This immersive workshop will be of interest to community organisations, educational institutions, companies, sports clubs and local authorities who want to bring together groups to engage in a conversation around masculinity.

Photos taken during multiple workshops. Photos by Fiona Whelan, Jenny Haughton and Susanne Bosch. Drawings by Gary Gowran, Chris Maguire & Fiona Whelan.


The immersive workshop was developed over 2018/2019 by Brokentalkers and Fiona Whelan, with partners in Rialto Youth Project, and further supported via an invited residency for Fiona Whelan at the Irish Museum of Modern Art and a Brokentalkers residency supported through Create / Collaborative Arts Partnership Pro­gramme (CAPP) and ‘…the lives we live’ Grangegorman Public Art, which led to a partnership with the Children and Youth Action Group of the North West Inner City Network. Funding was received through an Arts Council Arts Participation Project Award in 2019 and Theatre Artist in Residence Award in 2020.

Drawing by Fiona Whelan