Ian McDiarmid, perhaps best known as Palpatine in the Star Wars films, is also renowned for his work in the theatre, both on stage and as a director. Born in Carnoustie, he attended the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, joining the RSC in 1974. In 1990, he became co-artistic director of the Almeida along with Jonathan Kent. In 2002 he won a Critics' Circle award for his performance in Brian Friel's Faith Healer, earning a Tony for his reprisal of the role on Broadway five years later. He is starring in Bakersfield Mist at the Duchess theatre until 30 August.
I've read the centrepiece to this year's festival, Rona Munro's bold and effervescently modern James plays - a landmark for the National Theatre of Scotland and, in a tense year for that country, a gratifying collaboration with the English - I mean, British - National Theatre.
About Modern Art by David Sylvester
This is a series of essays on modern art which I have at home and, as I'm currently playing a Jackson Pollock obsessive [in Bakersfield Mist], I picked it up again. I was reminded how, sometimes, a passionate critic can really get to the heart of the matter.
London Review of Books
I like the LRB because it encourages and gives space to the extended essay. There are lots of articles that I could pick out but Andrew O'Hagan's recent disposition - I think I'm allowed to call it that - on the adrenaline highs and lows of ghosting Julian Assange really gripped me.
A rare example of a book and a film being improved by a theatre production - and a musical, at that. Rupert Goold and a great cast took us on a Dostoevskian quest - a lot of people disagree, but I think he did make it deeper than the novel. Matt Smith was triumphant in the lead role.
Dennis Kelly's black C4 series is about a graphic novel and, within that novel, there are various links to a government organisation which may or may not be behaving badly. It's witty and funny, but also quite violent. I'm in series two, which will be shown later this year.
English National Ballet - Lest We Forget
Tamara Rojo's recent commission of the trio of Liam Scarlett, Russell Maliphant and Akram Khan confirmed to me that humans can fly. There's something about being a performer that gives you a wonderful shorthand with the other artists.