The Diary: Damien Hirst; David Mamet; Double Feature; Ghosts of Gone Birds; The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik

Damien's bad omens

The 20th anniversary of frieze is cause for celebration – and a trawl through the art magazine's archives. Damien Hirst was the first cover star, back in 1991 when the pickled shark was but a twinkle in the artist's eye. In his first interview, asked "why a shark?" about his putative project, Hirst said: "A shark is frightening, bigger than you are, in an environment unknown to you. It looks alive when it's dead and dead when it's alive. And it can kill you and eat you, so there's a morbid curiosity in looking at them... You have to preserve a shark in liquid, which looks very similar to its natural habitat... I hope at first glance it will look alive." The artist also reveals the roots of his morbid outlook. "One day I had a horrifying thought. It changed everything. I was looking at my collages: all these rotten little bits of wood, these decaying, discarded bits of rubbish on the floor, very close to death (I felt) in the formal arrangements I'd made, with bits of plastic and dirty tissues almost breaking apart. 'This is happening to me', I thought. So, you see, they are about life and death together." If you say so, Damien.

Anarchist in the UK

Where's The Anarchist? In April it was announced that David Mamet's latest – a female two-hander about a criminal serving a life sentence and a prison governor – would have its world premiere in the West End this autumn, with Rupert Goold directing. It was to be the third play by the American playwright to premiere in London, following Glengarry Glen Ross in 1983 and The Cryptogram in 1994. As yet, though, there's no sign of curtain up. "It's tricky lining up the cast and the theatre and it hasn't happened yet," I'm told. Mamet will likely be keen to press on. His last production, A Life in the Theatre, closed early on Broadway in November, as did recent revivals of American Buffalo and Oleanna.

Site for sore eyes won't be used again

Double Feature has breathed new life on to the South Bank, staging four new plays by four young playwrights in the warehouse area usually used for painting the National Theatre's sets. I went this week and was blown away the ambition in the writing and staging on show, as well as by the space itself. Shame, then, that the Paintframe venture is a confirmed one-off. Next weekend, the space will return to its original function. "It is a working space and this was only ever supposed to be a one-off," I'm told. "We've had to do all of our scenic backdrop painting off-site, which is far from ideal. So it won't be used again." Expect other theatres to follow suit soon, not least the RSC, who are rumoured to be planning Pericles in the Roundhouse's car park.

Avian plight plans

Jamie Hewlett has chosen the Hawaiian Crow, Ralph Steadman the Dodo. They are just two of 80 artists who are making new work for a show dedicated to the plight of endangered birds. Ghosts of Gone Birds is the creation of Ceri Levy, the film-maker behind Bananaz, a documentary about Gorillaz. "My life needed a change from the years of filming in darkened studios, on the road and nightly activities," writes Levy on his blog. "Now I have found myself walking into a different place to inhabit with my camera, a land of brightness, colour and nature." Levy underwent a birdwatching epiphany while holidaying on the Isles of Scilly in 2005, which in turn inspired his new film, The Bird Effect, "a study of how birds inform and affect people", from twitchers and conservationists to artists and musicians. The film features a soundtrack by – who else? – Jimi Goodwin from Doves, who will perform it live when the show opens at East London's Rochelle School in November.

Pixar on stage

Featuring a disco-dancing finger puppet, ukulele ballads and a bubble machine, it was the word-of-mouth, sell-out hit of this year's Edinburgh Fringe. Now there are a couple more chances to catch The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik as the Perth-based performer Tim Watts takes his one-man "micro-epic" to the Bristol Festival of Puppetry this weekend and Oxford Playhouse next week. A hit in America, where it was pegged as "Pixar does theatre" and as a "theatrical Wall-E" by The New York Times, it's the story of an unlikely deep sea diver who embarks on a mission to save earth while grieving for his wife. Utterly mesmerising and surprisingly moving, it was in my top five Fringe shows this year – see it if you can.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week