The diary: The talking dead

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The Independent Culture

It's every teenage girl's dream: a séance with James Franco (above left). The Hollywood actor/ artist/everything will present a new three-part work inspired by Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie in New York next month. A collaboration with the video artist Laurel Nakadate, the project will involve the pair attempting to communicate with Williams' spirit via Ouija board and auditioning select audiences for roles in the play. Actresses hoping to play Laura will be asked to interact, karaoke-style, with a video of Franco playing the long-awaited gentleman caller, Jim. Franco is the latest star to sign up to Performa, New York's biennial of visual art performance, which starts next week and also features a performance from Joseph Fiennes in the Beckettian spoof, Happy Days in the Art World, written by the artist duo, Elmgreen & Dragset."The project is a twist on Williams' place in history and the mechanics of classic theatre," says RoseLee Goldberg, Performa's Founding Director. "The performance will break down the barrier between artist and viewer, inviting the audience to participate in all kinds of surprising ways."

Corden the act

His method is notoriously exacting but what is it really like to work with Mike Leigh? Over to you, James Corden (above centre). "If you asked me what Mike Leigh is like, I'd describe him as the nicest, warmest, funniest, most generous arsehole in the world," he writes in his autobiography, May I Have Your Attention, Please? "It's very, very hard doing his films. You never get any praise." In a lively chapter, Corden describes his audition for All or Nothing ("He didn't tell me to do anything specifically, just to 'become'") and the challenges of getting into character once he had won a role ("I wouldn't know what to do. Once, I tried to peer under the door to watch Lesley Manville to see what she did."). He hasn't worked with Leigh since. "I've got a feeling that All or Nothing might've been my one and only shot... The way my career's gone since, I'm not sure I'm what Mike's looking for." Plus, James, you just called him an arsehole in print.

My one dream, my only Mumford

It's official: Marcus Mumford is the new Kate Bush. The London folkie has perhaps the most consecutive lines of anyone in Andrea Arnold's bleak and determinedly taciturn new version of Wuthering Heights (above right). The film, out next month, closes with a song, "The Enemy", specially written by Mumford and Sons after Arnold saw the band in concert and asked them to contribute. Coming after two-and-a-bit hours of spare dialogue, long silences and no soundtrack, Mumford's robust tones come as rather an anachronistic shock. Bush's histrionics would probably have been less jarring.

Digital wonderland

It's only October, but Martha Fiennes is already in the Christmas spirit. The film director (and sister of Ralph and Joseph) has created a hi-tech, digital Nativity scene which will be shown in a specially designed temporary black box gallery in London's Covent Garden piazza from next month. The artwork, a collaboration with MPC, the company behind many of Harry Potter's special effects, will showcase Fiennes' new baby, SLOimage, a digital-image technology to make pictures "come alive". As such, the familiar tableau will constantly evolve with different characters, backdrops and even weather conditions as visitors come and go. Let it snow!

Cock locked for a big smoking transfer

Good news that Mike Bartlett's excellent love triangle drama Cock is to transfer to off-Broadway. The witty modern romance, which premiered at the Royal Court in 2009, starred Ben Whishaw as the anti-hero forced to choose between his long-term male lover (Andrew Scott) and a female one-night stand (Katherine Parkinson). A source at the London theatre tells me that none of the trio is available for the New York run, so who is being lined up for the juicy roles? And how will the rather conservative Broadway cope with that title being splashed across playbills and posters next Spring?