Photo : Haircuts by Children © Tim Mitchell
First in France
Haircuts by children
Mammalian Diving Reflex - Darren O’Donnell
Would you let children cut your hair?
From the age of 16, for people wishing to have their hair cut.
Darren O'Donnell, Artistic Director of the research-art atelier Mammalian Diving Reflex in Toronto (Canada), sub-titled his recent essay, Haircuts by children, “And other evidence for a New Social Contract”. We can’t think of a better definition of his work. This performance will invite pupils from the Collège Échange de Rennes middle school to cut the hair of volunteer clients in a city centre hairdressing salon. A wonderful collective, generous and equitable adventure which “invites the consideration of young people as creative and competent individuals whose aesthetic choices can be trusted”.

They will work in pairs, handling bookings and reception, styling, colouring and scissors. The pupils, aged between 9 and 11, will first receive two days of practical training from professional hairstylists. You just have to sit back and relax in the hairdressing chair for a free haircut. It’s a simple idea, but it opens up a multitude of symbolic, social and political questions and ramifications.

Haircuts by Children deals indiscriminately with concepts of trust, letting go, equality, courage, understanding, intimacy, art and creativity, and profoundly alters traditional power dynamics. We want them to take responsibility for their future, but will we let them cut our hair? Does letting children cut our hair involve the same level of trust as giving them broader citizenship rights? This is a safe social space where children and adults can meet to share a unique, intimate and unusual experience.

Since it was created twenty years ago, Haircuts by Children has been tried all around the world, and remains the flagship performance of Darren O’Donnell and his collective, Mammalian Diving Reflex.


Research-art atelier Mammalian Diving Reflex was founded in Toronto (Canada) in 1993 by Darren O’Donnell (Artistic Director) and Natalie De Vito (production). It is dedicated to investigating the social sphere and views innovative artistic interventions as a way to trigger generosity and equity across the universe. This culture production workshop creates site and social-specific performances, theatre-based productions, participatory gallery installations, videos, art objects and theoretical texts, all for non-artists, recognising the social responsibility of art and fostering a dialogue between audience members, between the audience and the material, and between the performers and the audience. Mammalian Diving Reflex has produced around fifty performances of all sizes. Teentalitarianism, Nightwalks with Teenagers, All the Sex I’ve Ever Had, Eat the Street, The Children’s Choice Awards, and Haircuts by Children are currently touring the world.


Conception et direction artistique : Darren O’Donnell.


Production : Natalie De Vito.

Saturday 06 July 2019
14:00 > 18:00
Urban Expression, Rue Saint-Melaine, Rennes
Sunday 07 July 2019
14:00 > 18:00
Urban Expression, Rue Saint-Melaine, Rennes

Station de Métro : Sainte-Anne • Lignes de Bus : C1,C5,9,51,70,71, arrêt place Hoche - 12, arrêt Fossés • Station Vélo : Place Hoche
Appointments to take at the ticket office : Opéra de Rennes (12 noon > 5pm, the day before the cut) or on cut day at the hairdresser (between 2pm & 6pm), subject to availability.

Skip to content
The association is supported by the City of Rennes, the Brittany Region, the Ille-et-Vilaine Department & the ministry of culture.

© TDN 2024