With a new season of hot theatre now launching, Brian Logan (our Artistic Director) shares his thoughts on what to look out for at CPT this Autumn.
What does a perfect CPT season look like? Tough question: I’ve presided over a few of them in my time, and I’d be hard pushed to say any of them were ever perfect. (Fantastic, yes, but perfect … ?) But I have such a season in my mind’s (or is it my heart’s?) eye. It’d be politically outspoken, rattling at the cage of how we live now. It would teem with new talent, wrangling our millennia-old artform into new shapes. Outsider voices would be prominent in its mix. There’d be Camden stories in there, but also stories that bring the rest of the world to our doorstep.
Oh, and it’d be fun. Loads of fun.
Would it surprise you, reader, to learn that all of the above describes our autumn 2022 programme, announced this week? I’m not pretending this is that most elusive of animals, the perfect CPT season. It isn’t. A perfect season would have included the several shows that fell through at the last minute, mainly because we’re living in the harshest funding climate for independent theatre-makers that I can remember. Oh, the shows we could have shared with you if only their funders had played ball! But no matter: when the fog of frustration cleared at what we couldn’t have, we marvelled at the sunlit spectacle of a still-formidable autumn season, with show after show we can’t wait for you to see.
Chief among them is For a Palestinian, which launches the season. I saw this show in CPT's Sprint Festival 2021, as we tottered for the first time into the post-pandemic light. It was highly restorative, a cry from the heart about the plight of Palestine and of its exiles living in the west, which brought its audience to tears, then to their feet. I’d say that its creator/performer Bilal Hasna delivers the performance of a lifetime, but that might be premature: he’s about to be a big star, in Disney+’s Extraordinary, so there’ll surely be many more performances to come.
After that, make way for CPT regulars BEZNA Theatre, whose wipe these tears takes a critical – and characteristically rigorous – look at the actions of the British state overseas. Wooden Arrow’s Block’d Off received the Pleasance Theatre’s Generate Fund for UK-based Black, Asian and Global Majority Artists. Its tale of working-class London life makes its full London debut with a fortnight’s run in November at CPT. After that, participation-led company Odd Eyes visit us with their Camden-set story, created by Camden young people, On the Line; and Alistair Hall premieres the in-person version of his digital hit Declan (a “stinging tale of loss, loneliness and sexual discovery” - The Guardian) on Hampstead Road.
What’s particularly exciting about the season is the prominence it gives to several CPT-commissioned and supported projects. Away from our public stage, we spend all year, and much of our energy, supporting artists – in a wide range of ways – to develop their projects and practise. This autumn, we get to reap the harvest, with a clutch of absolutely corking shows. Pigfoot Theatre – a company so fast-rising, their ears must be popping – are here with their 2020 Outside the Box commission Hot in Here: an energy generating dance party, a fantastic show celebrating the work of young climate activists in Camden and beyond. Starting Blocks alumni Meg Hodgson and Miranda Prag present new work (MOONFACE and An Attempt to Lose Time), developed on that great scheme. 2022 seed commission recipients Flawbored bring their combative satire It’s a Motherf**king Pleasure to our main stage in December.
If that sounds like a lot – well, I’ve barely scratched the surface. Give yourself five minutes, and take a tour around the three-month programme we’ve just announced. I promise you you’ll find something – something I’ve not even mentioned here! – that’ll get your theatre juices flowing. That’ll remind you: there’s nothing as exciting as new performance bearing new ideas into the world in eye-catching new ways. Get yourself a ticket or two, and we look forward to seeing you, here on the corner of Drummond Street, this autumn.