Everyone is Interesting (2024)

Inspired by our internationally acclaimed social acupuncture workshops and performances, Everyone is Interesting is a community-focused project that aims to explore, engage with, and unite the individuals who visit the Toronto Islands.

Over the course of this 60-minute neighbourhood tour, our artists will guide the audience throughout the public spaces of Toronto Islands to meet, play with, and get to know the strangers they inhabit the city with, to prove the universal truth that Everyone is Interesting.

Everyone Is Interesting took place as part of Doors Open Toronto on May 25 & 26, 2024.

Project Credits

The Original Production of Everyone is Interesting with Doors Open Toronto presented in 2024 was: 

Produced by Isabel Ahat & Ngawang Luding

The Doors Open Neighbourhood Tours program is generously sponsored by Redpath Sugar.

Presentation History

Doors Open Toronto (2024)

Row, Row, Row Your Boat (2023)

We have not been gentle to our planet. Our lives and dreams have had a monumental impact on the place we call home, where we are no longer just skimming the surface but shattering the ground and raising the waters. We have become a mighty force, yet we remain limited beings in fragile boats. Row, Row, Row Your Boat was a multi-sensory, immersive audio-visual experience that explored this dichotomy and the systems that are drifting us towards a perilous precipice.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat by Anupa Khemadasa was produced in collaboration with Mammalian Diving Reflex and stationed at Trinity Square Labyrinth as part of the City of Toronto’s Nuit Blanche.

Boats glide effortlessly on the surface of water – they are symbols of the journey we all undertake. Can we maintain balance and harmony with the place we call home as we navigate the waters?

Row, Row, Row Your Boat is an immersive audio visual installation, featured at Nuit Blanche Toronto, 2023. It was created by Anupa Khemadasa and produced in collaboration with Mammalian Diving Reflex and the City of Toronto. 

Created by: Anupa Khemadasa
Produced by: Mammalian Diving Reflex
Presented at Nuit Blanche Toronto 2023

Video Projection Artist/Props: Willy Le Maitre
Setup/Props: George Traini
Music: Gayathri Khemadasa
Video Editing: Darren Large
Content Editor: Ksenija Spasi
Photography: Digital Tee, Mike Brassard
Videography: Digital Tee
Production: Chris Landreth, Alice Fleming, Virginia Antonipillai, Ryan Lewis, Ngawang Luding, Isabel Victoria Ahat, Marie Lola Minimo, Sanjay Ratnan, Sharon Hammer, Sabine Thiessen, Alma Lilia Gutierez.
Special thanks to: Darren O’Donnell, Gabrielle Johnson, Margaret Best.

Presentation History

Nuit Blanche Toronto (2023)

LOL100: The Lives of Leaders in 100 Objects (2022)

LOL100 reveals insights into the private lives of some of the people running Germany’s largest and most controversial museum. Referring to the BBC series, A History of the World in 100 Objects, thirty young students from Thomas-Mann-Gymnasium spent months investigating the bookshelves and sock drawers of the homes of the leaders of Humboldt Forum to scope out the 100 most interesting objects. After interviewing the leaders about these objects, they shared their findings in a public performance at the museum.

Artistic Direction: Alice Fleming, Darren O’Donnell
Project Management & Dramaturgy: Julia Nickel, Jocelyne Stahl
Artistic Realisation & Mediation: Melika Ramic
Artistic Assistance: Nana Adutwum, Emma Rose, Sonja Vallot
Production Management: Fränze Czaja, Claudia Rumpf

Presentation History

Humboldt Forum (2022)

The Lockdown Resolution (2021)

The Lockdown Resolution combines 360° video and live performance to take the audience on a virtual tour led by three young Bristolians, for whom the pandemic offered welcome respite. The Lockdown Resolution is about the quandary on so many minds: should we ever go back to the way we were before?

The Lockdown Resolution was created entirely during the pandemic. This hybrid performance can be enjoyed either in person socially-distanced or remotely from home.

The Original Touring Production of The Lockdown Resolution at In Between Time Festival, Bristol in 2021 was Conceived and Directed by Darren O’Donnell, Codevised and Performed by Alke Schwarz, Chris Lewis & Germain Loud, Creative Advised and Edited by Fi Nicholson, Dramaturgy by William Drew, Guest Dramaturgy by Jana Eiting, and Produced by Ryan Lewis, Tina Fance & Alice Fleming.

Presentation History

In Between Time Festival (2021)

The World is a Wedding: The Presentation of Unst in Everyday Life (2018)

In 1949, Canadian sociology student Erving Goffman lived on Unst, the Northernmost Island in Shetland, for one year. He told everyone on Unst he was there to study the economy. He wasn’t. He was there to study everyone on Unst. He used this research to write one of the most important sociology books ever, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Seventy years later, a cast of teenagers from Shetland applied his insights to create The World is a Wedding: The Presentation of Unst in Everyday Life, an immersive show about connection, coming together, and how we live with one another.

Directed by Darren O’Donnell, Co-Directed by Alice Fleming, Produced by Tina Fance with Local Production by Karen Allan & Project Management by Lisa Ward.

Creative Associates: Thipeeshan Balakrishnan, Louise Witham, Jack Tully, Craig McCorquodale, Sonja Kovacevic, Daisy M Leask, Daniel Inkster, Sula Brookes, Miranda Moss, Jamie Deyell, Lydia Hay, Peter Muir, Grace Anderson, Erin Jamieson, Charlie White, Jessica Falconer, Jacqui Clark & Vaila Crow

Featuring The Alan Nicholson Band

Presentation History

National Theatre of Scotland's FutureProof Festival (2018)

A Survival Guide to the City (2018)

Led by the Young Mammals, A Survival Guide to the City was a neighbourhood intervention and integration project created in collaboration with young people who are seeking protection in Canada, many of whom have arrived alone without family or social supports. Over the course of six months, Sojourn’s youth, Mammalian, the Young Mammals and friends toured GTA neighbourhoods together to get to know the lay of the land, the inhabitants, cuisine, and cultural institutions, documenting our experiences along the way.

View the Survival Guide online.

Project Coordinator: Tijana Spasic
Sr. Social Animator: Wendell Williams
Content & Archive Coordinator: Olga Kolotylo
Video Director & Editor: Mohit Rai
Production: Tina Fance, Annalise Prodor, Eva Verity
Venue Partner: YYZ Artists’ Outlet

This project was funded by the Toronto Arts Council, with support from the Ontario Arts Council Exhibition Assistance program.

Presentation History

Mammalian Diving Reflex (2018)

Strange & Familiar (2018)

Led by the Young Mammals, Strange and Familiar was a podcast that brought together Toronto teens and seniors living in long-term care to share tales of hardship, humour and love.

Conceived, Directed, Produced & Co-Edited by Eva Verity with Podcast Content Direction, Editing & Engineering by Ellie Gordon-Moershel.

Listen to Strange & Familiar.

Presentation History

Mammalian Diving Reflex

Happy Eatium (2017)

Led by the Young Mammals, Happy Eatium involved teens from four different Toronto neighbourhoods assessing the food they’re most drawn to in their area, looking at how cheap, convenient, tasty and healthy it is. The result was four delicious presentations & MEALS, one in each area, that schooled audiences on how easy or hard it is to eat well on a small budget-as we all seek that Happy Eatium between what we should do and what we want to do, without making ourselves sick.

The Happy Eatium project was produced with the support of the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.

Coordinated by Akeesan Jeeva, Ahash Jeeva, Danielle Campbell, Dianna Gunn, Dineer Ali, Fenton Almen Nesbeth Jr, Kajian Pulenthirasingam, Kiam Lam Bellissimo, Laila Hashem, Lasasha Nesbeth, Lenny Avila, Nanthiya Nanthakumar, Rashida Shaw, Sanjay Ratnan, Sariny Uthayakumar, Sharay Dennis, Shineka Reeves, Stefany Donis, Thipashini Bala, Tijana Spasic & Wendell Williams

Presentation History

Mammalian Diving Reflex (2017)

Millionen! Millionen! Millionen! (2015)

“Be embraced, you millions” is the complete line of Schiller’s “Ode to Joy”. Millions of questions formed this creative collision between teens whose families all migrated to the Ruhr region at different times, and current teen asylum seekers all fleeing from the world’s tremendous chaos. Mammalian and the teens from Mit Ohne Alles met across the Ruhr to create one massive, open-ended blind date dedicated, at very least, to answering the question: who are Schiller’s “millions” and how can we ensure a loving embrace?

Presentation History

Ruhrtriennale (2015)
Ruhrtriennale (2015)

Teen Thoughts (2015)

Led by the Young Mammals, Teen Thoughts featured Toronto teenagers who quietly dish on what it is to be human.

Directed by Nicole Bazuin and Produced by Darren O’Donnell & Eva Verity.

View a short clip of Teen Thoughts.

Presentation History

CBC Arts - The Collective (2015)

Textures of Toronto (2015)

Led by the Young Mammals group The Torontonians, Textures of Toronto was a survey of the city that investigated the various textures of nine Toronto neighbourhoods. With the guidance of local residents, we collected samples of local ephemera, plant life, debris, cockroaches and other materials specific to the neighbourhood. The survey cumulated into an installation of over 100 jars representing the different urban systems of the city.

Conceived & Created by Sanjay Ratnan
Coordinated by Alana Wortsman

Presentation History

Grow-up at The Gladstone Hotel (2015)

Teens Talk Theatre in Toronto (2015)

Led by the Young Mammals, Teens Talk Theatre was an ongoing residency featuring a jury of 14 youth who assess the best, the worst, and most okayish shows presented at The Theatre Centre. The jury publicly convened to bring a live award-talk-show where directors, actors, and playwrights will fight to the death for a hand-made vintage macaroni trophy and the ultimate “Favourite Teen Show” title.

This project was made possible in part by grants from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Metcalf Foundation and the Toronto Arts Council.

Members of the Jury: Sanjay Ratnan, Virginia Antonipillai, Nerupa Somasale, Kiam Liam-Bellissimo, Akeeshan Jeeva, Claudia Howard, Shada Mahdi, Shirwa Ali, Fadumo Henke, Lasahsa Nesbeth, Ria Rashi, Kajian Pulenthirasingam, Nanthiya Nanthakumar & Thipashani Balakrishnan

Presentation History

The Theatre Centre (2015)

The AGO Youth Receptiveness Assessment Initiative (2014-15)

Our residency at the Art Gallery of Ontario took our new research wing, Methods for Mammals, out for a spin by running The AGO Youth Receptiveness Assessment Initiative. This was an assessment of the gallery’s potential permeability to young people according the the principles we developed in our Mammalian Succession Model for Youth Engagement.

We met and interviewed 40 staff members, canvassed and surveyed the surrounding neighbourhood for nearby youth, tested out some art projects, held a panel about program evaluation, curated a workshop to share the basics of Qualitative Comparative Analysis and produced a report summing up our findings and offering recommendations.

View a clip about The AGO Youth Receptiveness Assessment Initiative.

Conceived by Darren O’Donnell
Coordinated by Eva Verity & John Caffery

Presentation History

The Art Gallery of Ontario (2014–2015)

Wisdoms in Toronto (2015)

Wisdoms was a podcast produced by Brainchild Podcasts featuring Parkdale youth and seniors living in a long-term care facility in Toronto’s west end. Wisdoms brings teens and older adults together to shoot the shit about love, life and run-ins with the law.

Listen to Wisdoms in Toronto.

Wisdoms is a Brainchild Podcast:
Executive Producer and Editor: Max Cotter
Executive Producer: Aleda DeRoche
Content Director: Ellie Gordon-Moershel
Wisdoms is produced in partnership with Mammalian Diving Reflex
Conceived, Directed & Produced by: Eva Verity
Project Coordinator & Youth Liaison: Annie Wong
Senior Liaison: Grace Espinoza
Wisdoms has been funded by the Government of Ontario’s Seniors Community Grant and RECODE at Toronto Metropolitan University.

Presentation History

Mammalian Diving Reflex (2015)

The Hemsbach Protocol (2015)

The Hemsbach Protocol was a project about social integration and love during times of crises, with a team of artists who worked in collaboration with the Town of Hemsbach to assist in the settling of refugees.

The Hemsbach Protocol was developed as part of Matchbox, an art and culture project initiated by the Culture Office of the Metropolitan Region of Rhine Neckar, with moral support from the Mayor’s Office of Hemsbach and the Rhein-Neckar Kreis.

Conceived by Darren O’Donnell, Produced by Eva Verity & Jenna Winter, Local Coordination by Darren O’Donnell, Jana Eiting, Marie-Luise Hohenadel & Project Matchbox (Lea Gerschwitz)

Starring 20 refugees based in Hemsbach, Germany, who have arrived from Gambia, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq, Macedonia, and Montenegro, amongst others.

Presentation History

Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar (2015)

Homecooked Hemsbach (2015)

Homecooked Hemsbach was a cooking contest with teams comprised of refugees and local Germans, who had to deal with a confusing array of unidentified international ingredients.

Conceived by Rene Korbel, Produced by Jana Eiting, Co-Hosted by Jana Eiting, Darren O’Donnell & Konstantin Bock & Environmental Design by Konstantin Bock

Presentation History

Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar (2015)

A Drift in Gloucester (2014)

Led by the Young Mammals, A Drift featured a team of Mammalians who spent a week walking around Gloucester with some local youth from morning until night, meeting people in town and attempting to enter their lives in meaningful ways with the ultimate goal: to convince a stranger to let the team babysit their child.

Coordinated by Darren O’Donnell, Virginia Antonipillai & Sanjay Ratnan 

Presentation History

JOLT International Theatre Festival (2014)

High School Health (2014)

Led by the Young Mammals group The Torontonians, High School Health was a video investigation of the love lives of accomplished Canadians, driven by members of the Young Mammals. High School Health facilitated the youths’ knowledge acquisition, allowing their interests and curiosities to lead the way.

View a short clip of High School Health.

Conceived by Darren O’Donnell & Chosang Tenzin, Directed by Nicole Bazuin & Darren O’Donnell, Produced by Nicole Bazuin & Eva Verity, Executive Produced by Luminato Festival & Jenna Winter.

Starring: Virginia Antonipillai, Daniel Lastres Rodriquez, Sanjay Ratnan, Kathy Vuu & Wendell Williams

Featuring: Wayson Choy, Atom Egoyan, Bette Logan & Dan Hill

Presentation History

Luminato Festival (2014)

Promises to a Divided City (2014)

Led by the Young Mammals group The Torontonians, Promises to A Divided City was a data-driven performance examining socioeconomic dynamics in the city and in the body, inviting audiences to participate in addressing the divided Toronto. With a cast of over 30 performers from across the GTA, the show blasted audiences through economic and biological realities and landed them into a cozy vision of what this city has to offer.

Presentation History

The Theatre Centre (2014)

Get Out of My Room (2014)

The Torontonians commandeered room 201 at the Gladstone Hotel’s annual alternative design event, Come Up to My Room and applied a manic, hyper-teen aesthetic, praying they won’t be killed in the avalanche of their piled belongings: dirty socks, bongs, manga, teddy bears, homework and more homework. Eff-you, salad, get out of my room!

Presentation History

Gladstone Hotel (2014)

AWKS: Awkward Dance Party Series (2013-14)

Led by the Young Mammals group The Torontonians, AWKS was an ALL AGES awkward party series that provided an opportunity to relive your glorious middle school dance days and sneak a peek at talented youth all over the GTA… like ALL over.

AWKS was made possible in part thanks to support from Toronto Arts Council with funds provided by the City of Toronto; support provided by a grant from the Vital Toronto Fund at the Toronto Community Foundation; Hal Jackman Foundation; Trillium Foundation and Metcalf Foundation.

Presentation History

Gladstone Hotel (2014)
The Theatre Centre (2014)
The Great Hall (2014)
Ground Level Cafe (2014)
Gallerywest (2014)
Gallerywest (2013)
Gallerywest (2013)

How to Hook Up (2013)

Led by the Young Mammals group The Torontonians, How to Hook Up was a web-series showcasing Toronto’s talented youth – people from all over this town, equipped with mad skills and brains bursting with intelligence. Each episode will showcased the city’s various culture vibes, from Jane and Finch to Scarborough Village, and the young people who make up the neighbourhood.

Presentation History

Mammalian Diving Reflex The Torontonians (2013)

Dada Data (2013)

Statistically speaking, Mammalian Diving Reflex informs and transforms the city into an infinitesimal data bank made up of people like you: a walking, breathing, beautiful hunk of a datum.

Led by the Young Mammals group The Torontonians, we counted your family, we counted your money, we counted your fears, we counted your pets and the hairs on your knuckles even as they flew at our calculating faces. Information overload? When everything counts, everything must be counted. It’s Dada Data: counting to infinity.

FYI: A year in Toronto = 56 trips to the grocers, 25.2 hours in the shower, 36 hours of masturbation, 2920 hours of sleep. TMI? No such thing.

Presentation History

The Theatre Centre for Nuit Blanche (2013)

Future Tastes of Toronto: At the Kid’s Table (2013)

During Luminato Festival’s opening weekend, Toronto’s best chefs showcased the culinary diversity of the city through collaborations with kids.

For several weeks leading up to the Festival, over 20 local Toronto chefs worked with six classes of grade 4-6 students, sharing details about their gastronomic adventures and their culinary delights. Central to the experience was the Kids’ Table, a communal eating space where the kids divulged their behind-the-scenes knowledge about the chefs and the food being presented.

Creative Direction by Darren O’Donnell in collaboration with the Madeleine Collective & Joshna Maharaj.

Presentation History

Luminato Festival with Madeleine Collective (2013)

Ameliorating the Amalgamated (2013)

Toronto is undergoing a crisis of perception: Mammalian Diving Reflex and The Theatre Centre gathered together 35 experts from across Toronto and its surrounding suburbs to draft a comprehensive holistic vision for the future of the city. Given the task of envisioning 24 hours in a perfect city, these experts studied every single hour of the day and produced Ameliorating the Amalgamated: An examination of every single hour of the day toward healing a divided city, a performance and installation of the future.

Conceived & Directed by Darren O’Donnell

Presentation History

Gallery 44 & Toronto Arts Council (2013)

Small Talk in Daft Hell (2012)

The members of the Ruhrtriennale’s Children’s Choice Jury examined their rituals, rules, and roles. Who are you? Who are we? And how can we get rid of all our collected mistakes and lonely fears?

View a short film about Small Talk in Daft Hell.

Created by Jana Eiting, Judith Martin, Darren O’Donnell, Cathrin Rose & Julia Wissert with Videography by Konstantin Bock

Presentation History

Ruhrtriennale (2012)

Sleeping with Family (2012)

Sleeping with Family is about sleeping arrangements in a low-income neighbourhood as described by 15 teenagers living in Parkdale, Toronto. Disguised to protect their identities, the young people in the film discuss their living conditions, particularly the absence of, and negotiations for privacy living in close quarters with multiple family members.

Directed by Nicole Bazuin and Darren O’Donnell and Produced by Kathleen Smith.

View a short clip of Sleeping with Family.

The Producers of Parkdale & Dare Night: Lockdown (2011-12)

Led by the Young Mammals group The Torontonians, The Producers of Parkdale was a year-long mentorship residency where ten teens learnt the ropes of event production: curating, budgeting, marketing, production management and hospitality. Together, the youth curated and managed an all-night event, Dare Night: Lockdown, a public sleepover/event-filled Dare Night in the Gladstone Hotel’s ballroom.

Mentored by Naomi Campbell, Yan Wu, Chris Lorway, Carrie Sager, Howard Mah, Nathan Isberg, Sarah Robayo Sheridan, Julian Sleath, Mathew Kensett, Lisa Duke, Britt Welter-Nolan & Noa Bronstein.

Presentation History

Gladstone Hotel (2012)

Faith Exchange (2011)

Faith Exchange was an afternoon-long event bringing together a multitude of faith organizations from the Kitchener-Waterloo Region to do some serious proselytizing. In this post-secular era, we figured it was time to admit that art isn’t all that different from religion: we both have large, beautiful buildings in which you kin of have to be quiet and pay attention, we both offer transcendent meaning, we both have saints and martyrs (Muhammed, Christ, the Buddha, Duchamp, Debord, Khalo) and we both have holy cities: the Christian and Jew make their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the Muslim to Mecca and the Artist to Berlin. In addition, we’ve noticed that religious people tend to enjoy our events. Go figure.

Conceived by Darren O’Donnell

Presentation History

Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area for Survive.Resist (2011)

Farmer’s Market 2050 (2011)

Led by the Young Mammals, Farmer’s Market 2050 featured the ideas of architect Kubo Dzamba and his concept of Third Millennium Farming, chef Nathan Isberg, agricultural engineer Hala Chaoui, artistic genius Dean Baldwin and scientific interpretation from the teens of Parkdale.

It is anticipated that in 2050 the world’s population will exceed 9 billion people. The expansion of the world’s foodprint begs the question, how will we feed everyone when the time comes? By eating bugs, of course.

This project proposes Third Millennium Farming (3MF): harnessing the abilities of microorganisms (algae and phytoplankton) and micro-livestock (insects) to rapidly reproduce, for the purpose of food production. These new farming operations could be fed with certain types of city bio-wastes, creating a new and more sustainable type of food chain.

Presentation History

Justina M. Barnicke Gallery for Nuit Blanche (2011)

How to be a Brown Teen (2011)

How to Be a Brown Teen is a “deliciously rude instructional video” created by The Torontonians. Sanjay Ratnan “tells his fellow classmates that anything less than perfect grades, perfect fiscal responsibility and absolute chastity will “equal beatings” from a “brown teen’s” parents”. R.M. Vaughan, The Globe and Mail (2011)

View a short clip of How to be a Brown Teen.

Conceived by Sanjay Ratnan
Filmed & Edited by Saif Azmi

Presentation History

Toronto and the Niagara Artists Centre (2011)
SAVAC's MONITOR 7: New South Asian Short Film + Video (2011)

Monster Makers (2010)

Monster Makers explored the perils of success and the freedom of failure. The Sad Scientist just can’t get his monster to be monstrous. He needs help from the real experts: the kids.

Monster Makers was originally co-produced with Harbourfront Centre, Toronto, 2011, and developed in collaboration with Magnetic North Theatre Festival, 2010, with the help of Young People and the Arts Australia, 2010 and Young People’s Theatre, 2008. Made possible in part with funding from Harbourfront Centre’s Fresh Ground new works commissioning awards.

Original Production Written & Directed by Darren O’Donnell, Produced by Natalie De Vito, Performed by Daniel Nimmo, Darren O’Donnell, Joanne Hui & Janice Lee with Sound Design by Nick Murray, Visual Design by Stephanie Comilang, Video Design by Faisal Anwar, Illustrations by Selena Wong, Lighting Design by Simon Rossiter, Costume design by Tania Sanhueza, Production Management by Kari Kokko & Stage Management by Jenna-Lee Leger

Presentation History

National Arts Centre (2012)
Harbourfront Centre (2011)
Magnetic North Theatre Festival (2010)

SmallTalks (2010)

SmallTalks was a series of podcasts hosted by Darren O’Donnell created in response to a life with too much time spent on the road. Darren interviewed people around the world, describing the sensation of weak knees in the face of vast heights.

Listen to SmallTalks.

Playgrounds on Fire (2010)

Playgrounds on Fire was a large-scale ensemble presentation created collaboratively with a large group of children who are invited to employ their imaginations to create play scenarios to frighten an audience of adults.

Co-Directed by Darren O’Donnell & Jill Connell, Assistant Directed by Hugh Portman with School Collaboration by Westmount Park School

Presentation History

Skagastrond, Iceland (2011)
The National Theatre School of Canada (2010)

Nuit Market (2010)

Nuit Market was a fully functioning night market supplying inexpensive consumer goods, the kind of goods that are sold the world-over in street markets, souqs and ad hoc temporary malls.

Conceived by Darren O”Donnell in collaboration with the Toronto Weston Flea Market

Presentation History

Nuit Blanche (2010)

Horizons Youth Ambassadors at UCC (2009)

The Horizons Youth Ambassadors program at Upper Canada College (UCC) worked with students from Toronto’s public school system, offering them social mentoring opportunities to meet and pick the brains of people they think can help realize their goal of greening Dundas Square.

Conceived by Darren O’Donnell 
Coordinated by John Caffery & Darren O’Donnell

Presentation History

Upper Canada College (2010)
Upper Canada College (2009)

Accepting the Possibility that I May Ruin My Eyes: Reading in Darkness (2008)

Accepting the Possibility That I May Ruin My Eyes: Reading in Darkness was a labyrinthine library in total darkness. The lone beam of a flashlight cutting through the haze was your only guide as you wound your way through the Maze of Knowledge.

Created by Librarians-in-residence Darren O’Donnell, Lillian Chan, Petrina Ng & Danielle Williams

Presentation History

The Toronto Free Library (2008)

Slow Dance with Teacher (2007)

Slow Dance With Teacher let desiring viewers fulfill life-long fantasies. The students and teachers got intimate in the luminous atmosphere designed, by the brilliant Rebecca Picherack and Michelle Ramsay, swaying to the sound of slow tunes supplied by the glamorous DJ Murr.

Conceived & directed by Darren O’Donnell
Produced by Natalie De Vito

Presentation History

Nuit Blanche (2007)

Please Allow Us the Honour of Relaxing You (2007)

Please Allow Us the Honour of Relaxing You provided the opportunity for conference participants to massage the students and staff of the First Nations University.

Conceived by Darren O’Donnell in collaboration with First Nations University

Presentation History

First Nations University The Open Engagement Conference (2007)

Parkdale Public School vs. Queen Street West (2007)

We presented a ten-round encounter between the Parkdale Public School students and artists in the neighbourhood, resulting in performances, public talks, public walks, dinner, dancing and a film-screening. It’s a vibrant pile of creativity, intelligence and entertainment.

Conceived by Darren O’Donnell and produced by Natalie De Vito.

Parkdale PS Coordinator: Joe Leibovitch

Interns: Sarah Milanes, Eva Verity

Presentation History

Parkdale JK to 8 vs. Show Biz (2008)
The Parkdale Art Club vs. Mercer Union (2008)
The A.D.D. DJs vs. LAL (2008)
The Parkdale Strings vs. Blocks Recording Club (2008)
The Parkdale Baking Club vs. Chef Nathan Isberg and Coca Restaurant (2008)
Parkdale Geography Classes vs. Jane’s Walk (2008)
The Parkdale Primaries vs. The Artsters (2008)
The Beautiful and Hungry City (2008)
The Children’s Choice Awards (2007)
The Children’s Choice Dinner (2007)

Free Skipping (2007)

Free Skipping was an on-going event as part of the Children’s Pod: a group of artists and activists who are interested in the place of children in the city. Free Skipping was in response to the lack of informal avenues to interact with children.

Conceived & Directed by Darren O’Donnell

Presentation History

Potential Toronto at Toronto Free Gallery (2007)

Diplomatic Immunities (2006)

Diplomatic Immunities takes the body of the city, throws it on stage, cuts it open and holds the contents up to the light. Not theatre, not a talk show, not a film or a news report – but all of them at once. We scour the city for meaningful encounters, chat things up, knock on doors, check out the decor, eat some food, take some pictures and make new friends, then return to the theatre to debrief.

Conceived and directed by Darren O’Donnell; produced by Naomi Campbell and Natalie De Vito; co-direction and lighting by Rebecca Picherack; Video Direction, Translation and Facilitation by Faisal Anwar; sound by Nick Murray; projections by Stephanie Comilang. Featuring Research Artists: Faisal Anwar, Naomi Campbell, Ulysses Castellanos, Misha Glouberman, Darren O’Donnell Rebecca Picherack, Tanya Pillay and Beatriz Pizano.

“There was a palpable sense of community in the room (…) you left the theatre thinking and feeling differently than when you went in – and tell the truth – how often does that happen?” – Toronto Star (2007)

Presentation History

World Performing Arts Festival (2007)
Magnetic North Theatre Festival (2007)
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (2007)
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (2006)
Alberta Theatre Projects (2006)

Ballroom Dancing (2006)

Ballroom Dancing was an all-ages dance party that was deejayed by kids from Parkdale Public School in a gymnasium filled with 2700+ rubber balls. A safe playtime between adults and kids was fostered in order to counter the prevailing view that the public sphere is a place of danger, atomization and awkwardness rather than safety, communication and stylin’ moves.

“The unanimous favourite of Nuit Blanche” – The National Post (2006)

Conceived & Directed by Darren O’Donnell

Presentation History

As Balloonroom Dancing: Harbourfront Centre (2007)
Nuit Blanche (2006)

Naptime (2006)

Naptime invited the viewer to lounge in a semi-conscious state and listen to sleepy children’s stories read by a bunch of people in a bunch of different languages. The music of each tongue lolled you into comfortable reveries as you drifted through the city’s linguistic landscape.

Conceived by Alana Wilcox
Produced by Natalie De Vito
Production Management by Zoe Stonyk

Presentation History

Les Escales Improbables (2008)
Trinity Bellwoods Park (2006)

The Floating Curator (2006)

Public Acts, Act 21, Childhood: The Floating Curator was a part of curator Christine Shaw’s Public Acts project. To fulfill her end of the deal with Darren O’Donnell, Christine had to spend 1.5 hours per day for five days floating in the Alexandra Park outdoor pool attempting to strike up friendships with the kids. In this time of intense and understandable fear for the safety of children, The Floating Curator proves that it’s okay to talk to some strangers.

Conceived by Christine Shaw & Darren O’Donnell

Presentation History

Christine Shaws Public Arts Project (2006)

Q&A (2005)

A spin-off from The Talking Creature, Q&A selects an individual as the subject from the audience and the rest of the audience are invited to interview them. There are rules: the audience is allowed to ask any question they desire while the subject has no obligation to answer.

Q&A proves that the banal minutiae of people’s lives can be as compelling as any carefully constructed performance.

Conceived & Directed by Darren O’Donnell

Presentation History

Lakeshore Collegiate Institute & Malvern Collegiate Institute (2006)
Earth: an urban arts festival (2006)
Hotel Canzine's Upbag (2005)
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (2005)
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre's Rhubarb! Festival (2005)

Beachballs41+all (2005)

Beachballs41+all was a simple intervention that tried its best to pretend not to be an intervention. We procured a donation of 400 inflatable pool toys and about 20 volunteers to provide 400 toys for 100 kids.

The intention was to induce an encounter between two sets of people; the first group: artists, curators, editors, producers, programmers, funders, academics, and a United Church minister in training; the other group: kids who frequent the pool.

Another interest with Beachballs41+all was to introduce the sensation of abundance; thus the decision to offer the toys en masse to the kids.

Conceived by Darren O’Donnell

Presentation History

Alexandra Pool (2005)

Home Tours (2005)

Home Tours extends the dynamic of The Talking Creature into the homes of strangers by inviting the “audience” to walk through a neighbourhood, knock on doors and ask for a quick peek.

We were welcomed into the homes of a young nightclub promoter; a marriage counselor; a live/work architecture firm that was designing the new super jail for juveniles; and the live/work space of two graphic designers whose stunning home, complete with roof-top garden and a system to recycle rainwater, was recently featured in the Globe and Mail.

Conceived by Darren O’Donnell

Presentation History

SummerWorks Festival (2005)

A Suicide-Site Guide to the City (2004)

A Suicide-Site Guide to the City is a strongly personal solo show which plays with autobiography to explore life as a performance – where despair, compassion, wit and sensuality are seen as reactions to evil, framed as abuses of the power imbalances inherent in differences in wealth, race, sex and age.

Written and performed by Darren O’Donnell, produced by Naomi Campbell, directed and dramaturged by Rebecca Picherack, sound by Nick Murray, lights by JP Robichaud and set by Trevor Schwellnus.

A Suicide-Site Guide to the City was published by Coach House Books in Darren O’Donnell’s Social Acupuncture in April 2006.

Presentation History

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (2005)
The Assembly Rooms (2004)
PuSH International Performance Festival & The Firehall Theatre (2004)
The Belfrey by Intrepid Theatre (2004)

Toronto Strategy Meetings (2004)

Toronto Strategy Meetings were weekly meetings that occurred Mondays at 9:00am from September to December 2004, during Project Toronto, Toronto Free Gallery’s inaugural show. The meetings consisted of report-backs to the group from each participant: a brief outline of the individual’s current projects, problems they were having, how they intended to solve them, and their plan for the week. Participants included an environmental scientist, a painter, a sketch comedienne, an academic, a few visual and performance artists, a government bureaucrat, some musicians, a dancer, a few theatre artists and some activists.

Conceived by Darren O’Donnell

Presentation History

Project Toronto & Toronto Free Gallery (2004)

The Talking Creature (2003)

The Talking Creature was our inaugural Social Acupuncture project, it was an experiment in trying to isolate two core elements in the theatrical experience: talking and strangers.

The Talking Creature is a participatory event examining the art of conversing with strangers in public. It examines this anxious dynamic in an ordered but random fashion, with the conviction that unfettered and fearless conversation between strangers is fundamental to freedom. Once the participants gather at the predetermined time and place, everyone disperses and scours the surrounding neighbourhood, approaching strangers and inviting them back to the meeting place for an unstructured, unagenda-ed conversation.

Conceived by Darren O’Donnell

Presentation History

Parkdale Collegiate (2004)
Mammalian Diving Reflex (2004)
Latitude 53s VisualEyez Performance Art Festival (2004)
Mammalian Diving Reflex (2003)

pppeeeaaaccceee (2003)

pppeeeaaaccceee is a vast, imaginative, mesmerizing and hilarious glide through life after the revolution; a gently aggressive meditation which examines our being, asks us what we’re doing and reminds us that there are monsters in here.

Three souls, floating somewhere in the ether, talk quietly, and face the fact that the world is a place of overwhelming contradiction and terror. The ideas flow fluidly and we are lulled into a state of joyous confusion as we travel through the night, to the heart of our nightmares and out the other side to sunrise. Peace: say it slow, stretch it out, make it last forever.

peeeaaaccceee was written and directed by Darren O’Donnell, produced by Naomi Campbell, featuring Greg MacArthur, Ngozi Paul and Maiko Bae Yamamoto with sound by Nick Murray, light by Rebecca Picherack, choreography by Sarah Chase and set by Darren O’Donnell and Naomi Campbell.

Presentation History

Downstage Theatre (2006)
Theatre Passe Muraille (2004)
St. Catherine's Dennis Morris High School (2004)
Theatre Passe Muraille's Six Stages Festival (2003)

[boxhead] (2000)

[boxhead] is a bedtime story for your brain.

Dr. Thoughtless Actions, a young geneticist, awakes one morning to find a cardboard box secured to his head. Unable to wrench it off, he attempts suicide, not only failing but also, unbeknownst to himself, cloning himself, creating Dr. Wishful Thinking. Their conversation, an intricately woven semantic circus, traverses boxedness, love, and the more ridiculous areas of metaphysical speculation.

Directed by Chris Abraham, music composed by Romano Di Nillo; set designed by Naomi Campbell, Darren O’Donnell and Chris Abraham; lighting designed by Steve Lucas with Sandra Marcroft; sound effects by Henry Monteforte and Tyler Devine and costumes by Nina Okens; production management by Trevor Schwellnus and originally stage managed by the late, great Stephen Souter and subsequently by Beth Kates.

The original cast featured Paul Fauteux as Dr. Thoughtless Actions and Darren O’Donnell as Dr. Wishful Thinking, with Jim Jones stepping in to play Dr. Wishful Thinking in 2002 and Andrew Shaver and Adam Lazarus taking over in 2008.

Presentation History

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (2008)
Crow's Theatre (2008)
Theatre Passe Muraille (2002)
Go-Chicken-Go at Factory Theatre (2000)
As a solo cabaret piece: Theatre Columbus' Mayhem and the Naked Muse (1999)

White Mice (1998)

White Mice is a cartoon-like exposé of the virulent racism at the core of Canada. Robert and Douglas are two white-furred mice living in peacefully in downtown Toronto, until one day Robert begins coming home with more and more information concerning the state of racism in Canada. The two mice begin to question the function of racism, whiteness, and capitalism as they struggle to keep up with their rapidly expanding consciousness.

Written and directed by Darren O’Donnell, produced by Naomi Campbell, featuring Bruce Hunter and Darren O’Donnell, lighting design by RS Armstrong, sound by Nick Murray (aka murr), costumes by SimJones Inc. and set by Darren O’Donnell and Naomi Campbell.

The original production was nominated for six Dora Awards: outstanding play, production, direction, costumes, light, and received an award for set. The script was Adapted for CBC Radio and published by Coach House Books in 2000.

Presentation History

CUSO (Canadian University Services Overseas) (2002)
Rumble Productions & The Vancouver East Cultural Centre (2002)
One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo (2002)
Theatre Passe Muraille (2000)
DuMaurier World Stage Festival (2000)
The Theatre Centre (1998)

Who Shot Jacques Lacan? (1994)

Who Shot Jacques Lacan? is a rhythmic, movement oriented investigation of the theories of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan.

Written, Directed & Produced by Darren O’Donnell

Presentation History

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (1994)

Radio Rooster Says That’s Bad (1993)

Radio Rooster Says That’s Bad is a full-length solo performance by Darren O’Donnell that employs rhythm, rhyme, and repetition to explore millennial fever, paranoia, and psychosis.

Presentation History

Buddies in Bad Times (1994)
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (1993)

Over (1993)

Over is a vaudevillian exploration of the possibilities of the paranormal as a legitimate agent in ordinary lives.

Written & Produced by Darren O’Donnell
Directed by Darren O’Donnell, Daniel MacIvor & Karen Hines
Featuring Darren O’Donnell & Veronica Hurnik

Presentation History

As-Q (2003)
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (1994)
The Theatre Centre (1994)
Café Verité (1993)