Darren O’Donnell (1965, Canada) is an artist, writer, playwright, director, and actor. His shows include A Suicide-Site Guide to the City, Diplomatic Immunities, pppeeeaaaccceee, [boxhead], White Mice, Over, Who Shot Jacques Lacan?, Radio Rooster Says That’s Bad and Mercy! He has organized The Toronto Strategy Meetings, a durational project focusing on self-responsibility as a social act; The Talking Creature, a continuing experiment in public discourse; Beachballs41+all, a wealth redistribution performance featuring Toronto’s Culturati, kids in a pool and Liz and Rennie’s No Frills; Haircuts by Children, an event offering free haircuts to the public by children aged 10 years and Ballroom Dancing, an all night dance party DJed by children in a gymnasium filled with rubber balls during Toronto’s inaugural Nuit Blanche. He was the 2000 winner of the Pauline McGibbon Award for directing, the 2000 Gabriel Award for broadcasting and has been nominated for a number of Dora Awards for his writing, directing, and acting, winning for his design of White Mice.
Founded in Canada in 1993 by Darren O’Donnell, Mammalian Diving Reflex engages with currents in the visual arts world called “relational”. This work interacts directly with the community, creating relationships and involving rigorously framed participation. Through their so-called Social Acupuncture wing, they create events that occur beyond the walls of the theatre in the community itself, engaging the social body in an aesthetic of civic engagement –the artistic use of the institutions of civil society, of community centres, schools, seniors’ centres, sports clubs, and the media. Civic engagement as an aesthetic uses the consensual participation of these institutions and individuals as material to create work that, seen from most angles, appears to be mostly not theatre or even art, but that takes glances at simple power dynamics and, for a moment, attempts to provide a glimpse of other ontological possibilities.