Director and founder of Mammalian Diving Reflex, Darren O'Donnell advocates for socially relevant theater through a variety of performances, including Haircuts by Children, 2006, in which he trained children to style hair and offer haircuts to the public.

Darren O’Donnell

Darren O'Donnell is an artist, writer, actor, and city planner. He is the director and founder of Mammalian Diving Reflex, and the author of Social Acupuncture (Coach House Books, 2006), a manifesto that calls for a more socially and politically profound art and theater. His art is often described through the lens of relational aesthetics. For his performance work, Haircuts by Children (2006), he trains children to style hair and takes over a salon where the children offer haircuts to the public. The project traveled to many cities, including London, New York, Dublin, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Sydney, and Terni, each involving a new group of local children.

O'Donnell's ongoing project, Mammalian Diving Reflex, is a ""research-art atelier"" that produces performances, community-based events, and theoretical texts. The organization fosters dialogue and audience participation, and creates activist performance described by the group as ""ideal entertainment for the end of the world."" Its Social Acupuncture program works to dissolve the boundary between art and life in an attempt to create an aesthetic of civic engagement.

Born 1965 in Toronto, Canada.
Organization founded 1993 in Toronto.