Darren O'Donnell (born 1965) is a Canadian novelist, essayist, performance artist, playwright, director, actor and urban planner.
He is the artistic director of theatre company Mammalian Diving Reflex, has written many plays including A Suicide-Site Guide to the City, White Mice, Who Shot Jacques Lacan?, Radio Rooster Says That's Bad, Over, [boxhead] and pppeeeaaaccceee, and has published one novel entitled Your Secrets Sleep With Me. In addition to the novel he has published four other books with Coach House Books: Inoculations, pppeeeaaaccceee, Social Acupuncture and the most recent [boxhead] (2009). He is an M.Sc candidate in Urban Planning at the University of Toronto, where he is studying youth arts and community economic development.
Social Acupuncture is both the title of his book and a wing of Mammamlian Diving Reflex where O'Donnell creates work that engages the public and claims to prove the "generosity, abundance and power of the social sphere." The book is an extended essay outlining the possibility for a civically engaged artistic practice as well as an in-depth description and analysis of his work in this field. Social Acupuncture projects include The Talking Creature, Home Tours, Q&A Slow Dance with Teacher, Parkdale Public School vs. Queen Westand Haircuts by Children. With Haircuts by Children O'Donnell worked with a grade 5/6 class at Parkdale Public School in Toronto and Luther Burbank School in Los Angeles, trained them and provided free haircuts to the public by 10-year-olds. During Toronto's 2006 inaugural Nuit Blanche, an all-night art event, he presented Ballroom Dancing, a dance-party DJed by ten-year-olds in a gymnasium filled with thousands of rubber balls. In the 2007 Nuit Blanche he presented Slow Dance with Teacher, an event that offered the opportunity for the public to have a slow dance with university professors and high school teachers. His company, Mammalian Diving Reflex, is the resident art company at Toronto's Parkdale Public School and has created a series of events entitled Parkdale Public School vs. Queen West that brought children together with artists, the public, businesses and cultural institutions along Toronto's rapidly gentrifying Queen Street West. As of March 1, 2013 Mammalian Diving Reflex is the Company in Residence at the Gladstone Hotel, a boutique hotel in Toronto's West Queen West gallery district.
The work of O'Donnell and Mammalian Diving Reflex has been presented in:
- Birmingham UK - Fierce Festival, 2006
- Bologna - F.I.S.Co. 2008
- Calgary - High Performance Rodeo, 2002; Alberta Theatre Projects, 2005,06
- Chicago - The Dollar Store Show, 2005
- Derry - Context Gallery, 2009
- Greensboro - Weatherspoon Museum, 2009
- Lahore - World Performing Arts Festival, 2007
- Los Angeles - Outpost for Contemporary Art, 2006
- Melbourne - The Melbourne Festival, 2008
- Milan - Uovo, 2009
- Montreal - Les Escales Improbables, 2008; Gallery B312, 2009
- New York - Performa, 2007
- Portland - Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, 2007
- Sydney - The Sydney Festival, 2008
- Terni - Es Terni, 2008
- Toronto - The Toronto Free Gallery, 2004,08,09; Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 2008,07,04; Theatre Passe Muraille, 2000,02,03; The Theatre Centre, 1998, 2010
- Vancouver - The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival 2004,05,08,09
He has collaborated with other artists across Canada including Karen Hines, Daniel MacIvor and da da Kamera, One Yellow Rabbit, Rumble Productions, Theatre Replacement, Instant Coffee, Alberta Theatre Projects, Theatre Passe Muraille, Go Chicken Go, Factory Theatre, the Theatre Centre and Downstage Theatre.
His writing has appeared in Pivot, Material, One Hour Empire, GreenTOpia, Public Access, the Canadian Theatre Review, Daily News and Analysis India, Descant, C Magazine, uTOpia and The New Quarterly.
He was the 2000 recipient of the Pauline MacGibbon Award for directors, and has also been nominated for several Dora Awards for his writing, directing, and acting. He has won one of these awards for design. He also received a 2000 Gabriel award for excellence in broadcasting with his CBC piece Crazy Like a Fox. His Mammalian Protocol for Collaborating with Children was awarded the 2012 Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children Award.
- Mammalian Diving Reflex Web Site
- An index of web-based articles and reviews about O'Donnell and Mammalian Diving Reflex.
- Suicide Site Guide to the City blog
- Eat the Street blog
- Children's Choice Awards Vancouver and Melbourne blog
- Blog from working in Pakistan during state of emergency
- Discussion between O'Donnell and Vancouver theatre artists
- Diplomatic Immunities, Calgary blog
- Blog following O'Donnell working in Pakistan, India and Banff
- "Time Management for Anarchists" comic featuring O'Donnell
- The Dollar Store Show, featuring O'Donnell in 2005
- O'Donnell's publisher's website and his available titles