Social Acupuncture

“O’Donnell writes like a sugar-addled genius at 300 km/hr.”

The Globe and Mail

O’Donnell’s artistic practice has evolved into ‘something as close to hanging out as you can come and still charge admission.’ With his theatre company, Mammalian Diving Reflex, O’Donnell has generated a series of ongoing events that induce interactions between strangers in public; the Talking Creature, Q&A, Home Tours, the Toronto Strategy Meetings and Diplomatic Immunities bring people together in odd configurations, ask revealing questions and prove the generosity, abundance and power of the social sphere.

Social Acupuncture includes the full text of A Suicide-Site Guide to the City and an extensive essay on the waning significance of theatre and the notion of civic engagement and social interaction as an aesthetic and social relations as artistic material.

Critical Praise for Social Acupuncture

“O’Donnell’s synthesis of critical and conversational writing styles can make for wildly entertaining reading, social acupuncture”
The Chicago Reader

“O’Donnell claims that activists on the left are too concerned with the idea of safe spaces, separating according to difference, and that they are not willing to endure discomfort. Putting up with distress, O’Donnell asserts, is the whole point. Take this assumption and add some theatrical flair, and you have a unique experience as audience member, participant and reader”
The Globe and Mail

“I can say this is a book that anyone involved with theatre or activism should read, maybe even anyone who identifies as left of centre. He’s asking the right questions, and positing interesting answers. Does it make sense to buy a book meant to be a guide to undercutting capitalism? If you see Darren on the street, ask him.”
The Dominion


The realization that art can do very little to make the world a better place is a lot like the realization that the individual is relatively powerless. It may even be the same realization.

The political left — especially those of us working in the cultural sectors — claims communitarian objectives, but it has, paradoxically, invested a lot in the idea that the individual is powerful and that one’s individual actions make a difference in the world. But while this may be true in a very limited way, it’s mostly false.

Artists and other cultural workers on the left need to believe this to keep nihilism at bay during this time of retreat and reorganization. But exerting what little power we have as individuals to live responsibly in an irresponsible world has negligible results, often serving merely to placate a guilty conscience. And even this guilt is just another by-product of the market, fuelling compulsions as ill-considered as that of keeping ahead of the pack on the latest whatever. Efforts to address world inequities through art, while well- intentioned, are devastatingly naïve. Art has lost this round. Decisively.