The Diary: Carsten Höller; Harold Pinter; Fyfe Dangerfield; Noel Fielding; Claire Foy

 

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The Independent Culture

Slide away

His giant slides at Tate Modern caused friction burns and even broken bones; now Carsten Höller has the health and safety officers of New York up in arms. The artist's show at the New Museum features a slide that runs between the fourth and second floors, a slow-motion carousel, caged canaries and an "Experience Corridor" that administers electric shocks and love potions, but it's the "Psycho Tank" that has proved most controversial.

Visitors were initially admitted into the sensory deprivation tank in small groups, stripping off (bathing suits optional) for an out-of-body floating experience. Now, the New York City Health Department has ruled that the museum does not have permission for group activities and that bathers must float alone, increasing queuing time. Visitors already have to sign a waiver before riding the slide or entering the tank, while those who hire the topsy-turvy goggles to experience the show "upside down" are issued with strict warnings to remove them when walking between floors. Fun!

A performance for Pinter's lost sketch

Umbrellas, the forgotten sketch by Harold Pinter that was discovered in the British Library last month, will be staged for the first time in more than 50 years today. The performance will take place at the Nottingham Playhouse, where the sketch had its first and only run as part of a revue in 1960. William Hoyland and Ian Bartholomew will take the roles of gentlemen A and B, who sit on a sunny terrace discussing umbrellas. Just one and half pages long, the script contains 12 of Pinter's characteristic pauses. "It's from the very beginning of his career, but echoes the power struggles of his later plays," says Giles Croft, Artistic Director of the Playhouse. "It's fascinating to see how he expanded the ideas from here." Croft has since found more sketches written for the Playhouse's revues in the theatre archives. "John Mortimer, N F Simpson and Shelagh Delaney are all in there. When I contacted the writers' agents, none of them knew that the works existed. Pinter's was there, but nobody realised. We'd never had reason to go back through 60 years before." They do now. Expect more long-lost gems to resurface soon.

The Howl and the Guillemot

Fyfe Dangerfield is making his theatre debut. The Guillemots frontman has composed the music for Howl's Moving Castle, which opens at Southwark Playhouse on 28 November. The stage version of Diana Wynne Jones's fantasy novel is directed by Davy and Kristin McGuire who produced the video for the Guillemots' single "I Must Be a Lover". Sitting in on the edit, Dangerfield found out about their theatre project and offered his services. "I've been wanting to do something instrumental for a while. A lot of the music I listen to has no lyrics," he says. "I like writing songs, but this is more free." The musician has had to fit recording sessions around touring with the band. "Some of the music is gentle and beautiful, some eerie and creepy," he says.

Mighty good advice

When stars become successful, their old teachers often like to declare that they spotted their potential early on. Not so Dexter Dalwood. The Turner Prize-nominated artist taught The Mighty Boosh's Noel Fielding at Croydon Art College in the late Eighties, but was unimpressed by his talents. "One day he brought in a painting for some half-baked project he was working on... I use the word 'painting' lightly, as it was probably the worst I had ever seen a BTEC student do, so bad that it almost flipped into genius," Dalwood writes in the foreword to Fielding's new art/comedy book The Scribblings of a Madcap Shambleton. Still, Dalwood can take credit for Fielding's eventual success. When his pupil asked him whether he should pursue a career in art, Dalwood steered him in a different direction. "Not wanting to put him off, I suggested that a career in making people laugh might be more appropriate."

Foy story

In a change from playing Little Dorrit and Lady Persie in Upstairs, Downstairs, Claire Foy's next role will pitch her into the murky world of phone hacking. The actress plays a hard-nosed tabloid newspaper editor in Hacks, a one-off comedy for Channel 4, written by Guy Jenkin (Drop the Dead Donkey). Rumours that she dons a curly red wig for the role remain unconfirmed.

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