We love a Sprint festival, right? But never before have we done two in six months.
As the beleaguered CPT programming team need no reminding, it’s barely a heartbeat since the Covid-delayed Sprint 2021 crammed our stage last September with the weirdest, most wonderful new performance work we could find. We then wondered: Should we wait a year before doing it again? Is reverting to Sprint’s traditional spring slot too soon? Ask a silly question. Artists – young and emerging ones in particular – have been frustrated and chomping at the bit these last two years. There’s so much work out there that wants a platform, so many performance-makers who can’t wait to get started.
So we put out a call, and were overwhelmed with the response. And lo! Sprint 2022 is happening, back in its out-comes-the-sunshine slot, its programme is a green-shoots extravaganza of new and unexpected work in the margins between – well, what exactly? Theatre and performance. Comedy, dance and music. Spoken word and digital. It’s all in here, as eclectic a gathering of work as you’ll ever find on CPT’s stages – far less anyone else’s. In recent years, the festival has vied with VAULT as the place every spring to see unfettered new performance in a festival context. No vying required this year: after the cancellation of VAULT (some of whose shows we’ve welcomed to CPT), Sprint is where to get your fix of new theatre powered by young people with audacious new ideas and the resourcefulness to get them onto a stage.
What’s exciting for CPT is to encounter so many new-to-us artists at the start of their careers (some of whom we met for the first time, over tea and biccies, at our pre-festival drop-in last week). Who among them will be the superstars of tomorrow? Who will go onto to populate our programme, and thrill our audiences, in the years to come? Sprint is a great annual refreshing of the CPT gene pool, introducing us to artists we’ll go on to support, commission, produce – or stand back and admire, as they do epic things in the world.
Who’ll catch the eye this year? Ten Minutes Theatre, perhaps, with Say Less, a hiphop / spoken word show applying pressure to the phrase ‘the Queen’s English’? Rosa Garland with her ‘clown burlesque’ solo Trash Salad, about having really great sex when you have really bad OCD? Companies like Bang Average and Chronic Insanity, or artists like Dora Colquhoun and Lila Robirosa? It’ll be fun to find out.
And then there’s this year’s Starting Blocks artists, beavering away at CPT since January on their brand new projects. It’s a scheme that means a great deal to CPT, seeding some legendary projects since it was founded in 2011 – the never-ending smash hit Queens of Sheba, for example, which finished another Soho Theatre run last week. The output from this year’s programme brings Sprint to an end on March 26, and we can’t recommend it highly enough.
Consider yourself warmly welcome, then, to join us at our annual (or more than annual, this time around) knees-up. Take a look at the programme: I’m sure you’ll find something that piques your interest. Onstage or online, you’ll see things that refresh your hope for the future of theatre and performance, that feel like the shot-in-the-arm we all need after two doldrum years waiting for life to get exciting again. That’s the kind of buzz Sprint can provide, and all of us at CPT can’t wait for it to begin…