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Wednesday, August 15


This man is rich in thought and generous of spirit; he also embodies a certain Dionysian ease that inspires excitement in his many projects. A writer, director, performer, designer, and the artistic director of  Mammalian Diving Reflex (ideal entertainment for the end of the world), he's also doing his Masters in urban planning.

We intercepted Darren while prepping for Dare Night : Lock Down at the Gladstone hotel. This event is a terrifying sleepover hosted by The Torontonians (a group of Parkdale-based teens) in collaboration with Mammalian Diving Reflex. Along with whoever dared to show up, The Torontonians challenged each other to do unmentionable deeds (cat food was involved), attempted Astral  Projection (hopefully not into Rob Ford's shower... this must be an inside joke), and ate "pus pizza."  

Dare Night, like other projects O'Donnell and his colleagues have initiated (Haircuts by Children, Nightwalks with Teenagers), seeks to turn preconceived notions on their heads. In a playful way he's challenging adult perceptions such as the ideas that teenagers are both frightening and vulnerable, and that children are useless members of society, unable to make competent decisions. Through these performances, O'Donnell empowers youth and teaches them skills for the future. He puts into action theories around social and economic improvement that are at times impenetrable when explained theoretically but come alive through these engaging experiments.  We're excited to see where the future will take such a vibrant personality (Mayor?) as he moves towards consulting other communities about working with and supporting youth culture.


  1. Impenetrable?! Hahaha.

    All I'm saying is that "youth empowerment" needs to include economic empowerment. It can't stay focused on more abstract ideas like "confidence" or even concepts like "skills." Those are fine, but if those don't lead to economic empowerment then what exactly do we mean by empowerment?

    Further, those of us who work with young people should not view it as a separate realm from our "real" artistic careers; we need an ethic of collegiality, where the young people are our colleagues and we work with them as we would with any professionals, sharing our networks, investing fully in the work, etc.

    here's something I wrote about what we're doing with the youth in Toronto, if anyone is interested:

    thanks for hanging out and taking my pic! we should socialize sometime.

  2. Thanks for the clarification and further enlightenment Darren! Come by the AGO to check out the Residency Studio and Uniform Factory before August ends.

  3. Thanks for the invite. I'm out of town until September. See you then. let's hang out when I get back. I need some friends.

  4. you guys have the most challenging captchas. it's like an iQ test every time.