Cultural Life: Katie Mitchell, theatre director

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The Independent Online

Visual Arts

A few weeks ago I went to see Tacita Dean's recent exhibition at the Frith Street Gallery. I arrived just as they were packing up and saw only a beautiful collage of black-and-white photographs of a tree. My two-year-old daughter came too, and kept saying "lovely tree" for days. I find her use of film particularly beautiful. Then I went to see the work of my friend, Antoni Malinowski at Coin Street Community Centre, Stamford Street in Waterloo. He has just painted the large walls and shafts inside the building with a gorgeous combination of colour and shapes.

Books

I've just been re-reading Dostoevsky's The Idiot. I am planning a multi-media performance of the text next year at the National Theatre. I was struck by how strangely pedestrian whole sections of the dialogue seem now. Then I've been reading an exquisite book about domestic servants in the late 19th-century by Alison Light called Mrs Woolf and the Servants. Very witty and insightful.

Film

Just watching Bresson's L'Argent at the suggestion of the actor Ben Whishaw, who is working with me on The Idiot. The exquisite close-ups in the film provide us with a perfect starting point for key close-up images in the novel. Watched Klimov's Come and See. The anti-war imagery and soundtrack are so potent.

Music

I am listening to the music of Luigi Nono a lot. I will direct his opera Il Gran Sole in 2009. I have also just listened to Mark Padmore's recent collection of tenor arias, including some gorgeous Handel. But my favourite song is a recording by my child's father, Jonathan Stone. Every evening my daughter, Edie, says "Play Daddy's CD". It contains a song called "Edie Cleaned the Telephone" and tells the true story of how she washed the telephone in the bath and gave it to me dripping wet, saying "Clean, mummy". I put it back and the electricity in the flat short-circuited.

Katie Mitchell's production of 'Women of Troy' is at the National Theatre, London SE1 (020-7452 3000) to 27 February

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