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Cultural Life: Jonathan Miller, theatre director


Books: I read all the time. I recently read a big book on the nature of seeing and believing by Pylyshyn. I've also been re-reading a book that has been an influence on me: 'Frame Analysis' by Erving Goffman, about how we make sense of things. There's also a whole series of philosophical books by Donald Davidson – particularly 'Essays on Actions and Events' (1980). It's difficult and you need to read it again and again to get it straight. Hand movements are something I'm always thinking about when directing an opera or theatre production. I also read a very good new translation of 'Madame Bovary' by Lydia Davis.

Television: I found an hour-long documentary 'The English Surgeon' extremely interesting. The British neuro-surgeon Henry Marsh operates for free on poor patients in the extremely derelict health service in the Ukraine, helping Igor Kurilets, a neurosurgeon, who has to remove a brain tumour with basic tools. It shows how profoundly different and inefficient things are.

Visual Arts: I saw the Mondrian/ Nicholson: In Parallel exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery (Ben Nicholson's '1937 below). It explores the relationship between Piet Mondrian and Ben Nicholson during the 1930s. It's this idea of influence – what is it about living with one another that leads to recognisable styles?

Music: I listen to the radio rather than buy records. I listen to Bach a lot and my wife and I went to a good performance of Shostakovich at LSO St Luke's – we are also planning to go to some chamber music concerts with violinist Nicola Benedetti.

Jonathan Miller directs 'Rutherford and Son' for Northern Broadsides in February 2013 (northern-broadsides.co.uk)