"In June 2021, Executive Director Kaya Stanley Money took maternity leave and we agreed that whilst she had a baby, I would have a building."
Nicola Clements, Executive Director of CPT June 2021 - June 2022, reflects on her time in the CPT team.
Last summer did feel like a birth of sorts. Emerging from an enforced closure, bringing staff back from furlough and opening the building after much-needed renovations, it took a great deal of care and not a small amount of blood, sweat and tears to open those doors.
I knew I was coming to work with a small hardworking team with grand ambition, having seen it through the wide lens of being a trustee, but I wasn’t prepared for how much love there is: for the mission, for the art, for each other. So many performances at CPT are one night only, just one hour of heart-on-your-sleeve, this-is-who-I-am, give-it-everything-you’ve-got theatre, and everyone at CPT works desperately hard to give our artists the space, the support and the encouragement to make those performances happen. This year, we’ve taken it in turns to work behind the bar to keep shows staffed in the face of multiple isolations across the company, we’ve adapted contracts and policies to offer more stability and flexibility through more people-centred practice, and we’ve been unafraid of trying different ways of doing things as we learn more about who we want CPT to be.
And alongside a lot of time elbow deep in spreadsheets, fundraising applications and business planning, I’ve also seen some brilliant work on the stage.
A few highlights from my year at CPT:
Summer: But What If You Die?
A work-in-progress in the basement, Adam Lenson brought more of his living room to the theatre every day during his rehearsal week until we felt like it was as much his home as ours. The piece itself had its first outing online and later came back as a finished product in the theatre with a bigger, more polished design. But Adam leading the audience through a guided meditation next to an old TV and an even older fridge is what will stay with me.
Autumn: If You Love Me This Might Hurt
Talk about heart-on-your-sleeve. Matty May held the audience by the hand and guided us through the most personal of stories with sensitivity and humour. Everyone should have a Nan Jan.
Winter: A Suffocating Choking Feeling
Simone French blurred the line between reality and deceit so deftly, she had me watching the second night via Instagram Live to see if I could work out the balance of fact vs fiction. Immersive, a little terrifying, and the start of a conversation that needs to be had, like all the best programming at CPT.
Spring: No More Mr Nice Guy
Cal-I Jonel is a brilliant storyteller and performer, and asked our audiences to consider the extent of the pressures and prejudices of living and teaching whilst black. You can catch him performing in Samskara with our friends over at the Yard Theatre until 23 July and I recommend you do.
A special mention has to go to Hannah Ballou, who presented Goo:Ga online as part of CPT Digital in our festival of feminism Calm Down, Dear. I laughed and I cried, and I felt all the feelings, and I’m not sure I’ve ever needed to know what happened next more.
And so now I’m handing back my keys, but that doesn’t mean I shan’t still be walking through CPT’s newly improved, automatic doors as one of the regulars. There’s a smasher of an Autumn season on its way and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.