We live in an adultitarian state, where the rules are based on very adult priorities and understandings of reality. Young people are disenfranchised and powerless; they understand they're subject to an authoritarian regime, whether they buy into it or not. But their unique perspectives also offer incredible potential for engagement and innovation.
Cultural planner and performance director Darren O'Donnell has been collaborating with children for years through his theatre company, Mammalian Diving Reflex; their most well-known piece, Haircuts by Children (exactly what it sounds like) has been performed internationally. O'Donnell suggests that that working with children in the cultural industries in a manner that maintains a large space for their participation can be understood as a pilot for a vision of a very different role for young people in the world - one that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child considers a new social contract.
Haircuts by Children is a practical proposal for the inclusion of children in as many realms as possible, not only as an expression of their rights, but as a way to intervene in the world and to disrupt the stark economic inequalities perpetuated by the status quo. Deeply practical and wildly whimsical, Haircuts by Children might actually make total sense.
Darren O'Donnell is an urban cultural planner, novelist, essayist, playwright, director, designer, performer, and the artistic director of the Mammalian Diving Reflex theater company. O'Donnell currently resides in Toronto, Ontario.
About the Author
Darren O'Donnell is an urban cultural planner, novelist, essayist, playwright, director, designer, performer and the artistic director of the Mammalian Diving Reflex theatre company. Based in Germany and Canada, Mammalian Diving Reflex is a research-art atelier conducting culturally explorative work since 1993. The artists of Mammalian are committed to social acupuncture--playful, provocative, site-specific, and social-specific participatory performances, events, moments, situations, stage-based work, gallery-based participatory installations, videos, art objects, and theoretical texts. Darren's work has been presented and exhibited around in cities around the world. He holds a M.Sc. in urban planning from the University of Toronto and a BFA in theatre from the University of Alberta. O'Donnell currently resides in Toronto, Ontario.