The Diary: Laura Poliakoff; Joe Penhall; Black Pond; Dominic West; Damien Hirst


Laura's launch

She was the inspiration behind Stephen Poliakoff's television drama Gideon's Daughter, and now Laura Poliakoff is preparing to make her debut in the theatre world. The 25-year-old daughter of the celebrated dramatist will premiere her first play in May, at High Tide, a new writing theatre festival, which counts the Poliakoff stalwart Bill Nighy among its patrons. Clockwork is billed as a comic and touching exploration of how society cares for its elderly and the attitudes of 20-somethings to ageing. Poliakoff Jr recently graduated from the National Film and Television School where she created a sex comedy about British prudishness and co-wrote an animation, Bertie Crisp, about a put-upon bear who lives in a caravan park, which featured the voices of Kathy Burke and Tamsin Greig. She has also written a three-part television murder mystery, Limehouse, set in London in 1918, and has been commissioned to adapt The Remarkable Journey of Miss Tranby Quirke, about a lesbian affair between a repressed teacher and her feisty young student. All of which means she could soon be as ubiquitous as her father.

Paternal writes

Joe Penhall has been enjoying a fertile period of late. In June his new play, Birthday, will open at the Royal Court a record-breaking six months after his last new play, Haunted Child, opened at the theatre. Both plays share the same themes of child-rearing and fatherhood but where Haunted Child was a spooky tale of a mother raising her son alone after her partner disappears, Birthday promises a more farcical approach and will star Stephen Mangan as Ed, a man about to become a father for the second time. Penhall drew on his own life experiences for the play, which was inspired by the birth of his second son. "He came home after the birth, drank a bottle of whisky and wrote it all in one go," I'm told. Squeamish audience members be warned – early read-throughs of the play have revealed some "really quite graphic" and gynaecological stage directions.

Small budgets and big ambitions

This Sunday, Tom Kingsley, 26, and Will Sharpe, 25, will find out if they have won a Bafta for their debut film, Black Pond, a black comedy starring the notorious star of The Thick of It, Chris Langham. The pair, who met at Cambridge University while performing in Footlights together, made the film on a tiny budget of £25,000 at Sharpe's family home in Surrey. Interest in it snowballed and it has so far been nominated at the BIFAs and the Evening Standard Film Awards as well as for the Outstanding British Debut Bafta. It will also screen at SxSW in March. The pair are now working on their second film, described as "Michel Gondry crossed with Monsters." "It will be on a bigger budget than last time, but still a lot less than you would expect for an epic adventure comedy," Sharpe tells Screen Daily. "We are coming up with creative ways to shoot an around-the-world story, We have been doing tests with models and green screen to see if we can make a look that means we can travel without travelling."

Go West

Form an orderly queue! Dominic West will be appearing at the Bush Theatre, for one night only, indeed for 15 minutes only, on 22 February. The actor, better known as The Wire's drawling Jimmy McNulty, will take to the stage to talk about theatre-making and acting as part of 5x15, a regular night featuring speakers from the arts. This is the first time that the night has taken a theatrical theme, so West will be joined on stage by the actress Kate Fleetwood, director Tim Supple, playwright Tim Supple and Kate Pakenham, executive director at the Donmar Warehouse. There are only three rules: speeches must be non-scripted, non-fiction and last just 15 minutes.

On the spot

Damien Hirst has famously offered a signed spot print to anyone who manages to fly to all 11 Gagosian galleries around the globe to see his Complete Spot Paintings. Why bother, though, when you can make your own? The website Other Criteria is selling a pack of 15 iron-on embroidered Hirst spots. Officially endorsed by the artist, the multi-coloured dots can be pressed onto clothing to create your very own wearable Hirst – for the bargain price of £9.95. Just when you thought Hirst had come up with every possible money-spinner.

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