The Diary: Mehrdad Seyf; Ghost Stories; Hauser & Wirth, Max Wigram Gallery and Bischoff/Weiss; the Oscars; Dizzee Rascal

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The Independent Culture

Things just aren't Seyf for a director

Mehrdad Seyf, the Iranian director of the play, 'Plastic', inspired by stories of Iranian men undergoing sex-change surgery, was told that as a result of the production coming to London this month (after a sensational reception in Edinburgh in summer 2008) – it is not safe for him to travel back to his homeland. He had intended to go back for a lecture there, but after contacting the authorities he was told that "under no circumstances (was he) to come to Iran". Seyf told me: "The Dramatic Arts Centre did not say I was banned but that they couldn't be held responsible for my safety". A dancer from the original cast was arrested then released during a trip to Tehran while a co-director who was questioned by authorities. The site-specific work, to be performed in a converted sawmill in London's Whitechapel, is predicated around Iran being the place for transgender surgery, subsidised by the government because homosexuality is illegal in Iran. As a result, many gay men are "encouraged" to have the surgery.

No spirit for youth

'Ghost Stories', the play that opened at the Lyric Hammersmith earlier this month and bills itself as a "truly terrifying theatrical experience", has recommended an age certification to audiences accordingly. When a colleague went about booking a ticket for herself and her 13-year-old son, she was strongly advised to think twice as there is a warning suggesting the play is unsuitable for anyone under 16. Perhaps it's not surprising as it's the brainchild of Jeremy Dyson, the creator of 'The League of Gentlemen'.

Art of a good deal

In spite of the recession, three London galleries are opening up spaces in Mayfair, London, this month: Hauser & Wirth, Max Wigram Gallery and Bischoff/Weiss. Max Wigram said: "Bizarrely, we have had a pretty good year". This is Hauser & Wirth's fourth space (on Savile Row), while Bishoff/Weiss is moving to its flashy West End base from the East End. While the credit crunch does appear to have eased its grip on the art world could this smart relocation have something to do with cheaper property rental?

Another little Oscar won't Hurt

So Britain walked away near empty-handed at the Oscars, despite the amply nominated presence of our heavy hitters (Colin Firth and Helen Mirren). But at least the British nationality of the sound mixer on the six times Oscar-winning Iraq war film, 'The Hurt Locker', held up the flag for us. A UK Film Council press release sent to arts correspondents read: "The Association of Motion Picture Sound would like to offer their warmest congratulations to Production Sound Mixer Ray Beckett on his Oscar® award for 'Best Achievement in Sound Mixing' on 'The Hurt Locker'." London-based Beckett (left) worked under arduous conditions in Jordan, to produce the soundtrack, the note said. Well, at least it makes a change from best "costume design", although we got that one too, as usual.

Charting the Dizzee heights and lows

So even Dizzee Rascal is writing about his life. Well, who isn't? 'The Dizzee Rascal Story' will be published this October as a joint venture between Canongate and Dirtee Stank, the record label that's owned and run by Dizzee. The publisher promises a required dishing of the dirt, "from the family secrets that defined his troubled upbringing, to the truth about the near-fatal multiple stabbing that almost ended his career just as it was beginning, this riveting memoir will lift the lid on a life lived at a break-neck pace." Dizzee will co-write the book with the music journalist Ben Thompson.

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