History of CPT

“It is precisely these types of projects, involving these types of people, in these types of theatres that make London what it is” – The Lancet, Nov 2017, on Fog Everywhere

Since 1994, companies who found early support at CPT are now among the best-established names in British and international theatre: Shunt, Chris Goode (a former artistic director of CPT), Ridiculusmus, Blind Summit, Fevered Sleep and Unlimited Theatre are among them.

Here’s a brief account of some highlights in CPT’s history:

1994  Camden People’s Theatre established.

1997 First ever Sprint festival. The festival, now 16 years old, has established itself as London’s number one celebration of new and adventurous theatre.

1999 The theatre company Ridiculusmus develop their show Yes Yes Yes at CPT, which goes on to win a Time Out Live Award for Best Off-West End production, a Total Theatre Award for Best British Production, and a Herald Angel Award. The company later became resident at the Barbican Centre and part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio.

2001 CPT nominated for a prestigious Peter Brook Empty Space Award. The citation on both occasions is for “quality studio theatre events in a much-needed area”.

2003 CPT gains sponsorship from Abbey to redevelop unused space below the theatre. The resulting rehearsal & meeting space has been used extensively by Camden community groups and for theatre companies to develop new work.

2004 CPT receives funding from Arts Council England to develop its artist development programme, TONIC.

2005 The internationally renowned Pacitti Company develop and premiere their show A Forest at CPT. The production was later performed at the Barbican in 2009. The Pacitti Company now run a prestigious biannual live art festival, SPILL, and created one of the landmark events in the Cultural Olympiad.

2006  The successful TONIC programme continues to support new works and international collaboration through productions from Dan Kai Teatro (Iceland/UK/Spain), Indian Runner Production (France/UK) and dANTE oR dIE (Israel/UK).

2007 Theatre director Liam Jarvis and his company Analogue win the prestigious Fringe First and Arches Brick awards for their show Mile End. Liam was supported through CPT’s Tonic (Training of New and Innovative Companies) scheme in 2004.

CPT agrees a regular funding agreement with Camden Council, initially for 3.5 years, but later extended to December 2011 (4.25 years).

paperweight2008 CPT-developed site-specific show Paperweight (pictured, right) presented by Top of the World, wins another Fringe First Award, before touring nationally.

CPT becomes a key venue in the development of the new, annual Camden Fringe Festival. In partnership with Central School of Speech & Drama, we establish a new Graduate Theatre Company Scheme, providing development advice and opportunities to new and emerging artists.

2009 CPT’s in-house production Icarus 2.0 is nominated for a Total Theatre Award and Stage Award at the Edinburgh Fringe. In the same year, 4 of the 5 companies selected for the British Performance Festival in Mainz, Germany were previously presented at CPT’s Sprint festival.

CPT delivers (in collaboration with Camden Council) the first Camden Producers Initiative, providing a platform for emerging producers and companies.

2010 Ria Parry, a director supported as part of CPT’s Tonic scheme, is awarded the Leverhulme Bursary for Emerging Theatre Directors by the National Theatre. Artist Laura Mugridge’s CPT-developed site-specific show Running on Air wins another Fringe First at the Edinburgh Festival.

2011 CPT launches its new artist development scheme Starting Blocks, which supports solo artists and small companies to develop new work and establish themselves as independent theatre practitioners.

2012 Under new directors Brian Logan and Jenny Paton, CPT hosts its fifteen-birthday Sprint festival, which increases audience numbers by 43%. Overall 2011-12 audience numbers increased by 29%. Programming successes include the sell-out, critically acclaimed Unhappy Birthday by performer, broadcaster and former Mayoress of Camden, Amy Lamé.

2013 CPT launches its inaugural Beyond the Joke festival of standup theatre, and its inaugural Calm Down, Dear festival of feminism. Both are huge successes – as is the London premiere of Amnesty Award-winning co-production (with Common Wealth Theatre) Our Glass House.

2014 Our ‘[email protected]’ strand of work including several Passing the baton events, which see new-to-CPT artists selected for commission by ten great artists who’ve worked here in years gone by. CPT also joins Arts Council England’s National Portfolio – the only theatre in London to join the portfolio in this funding round – and CPT’s first ever core funding. In December, new Executive Director Amber Massie-Blomfield comes onboard.

2015 CPT becomes a National Portfolio Organisation with Arts Council England and launches a new Associate Artist scheme launches with three artists/companies: Barrel Organ, Sh!t Theatre and Jamal Harewood. We mark the General Election in May with a festival, ‘The State We’re In’, headlined by Beats + Elements’s show No Milk for the Foxes. Our co-production of the Beastie Boys’ music-theatre event Licensed to Ill extends to a four-week run. CPT is nominated as the UK’s Best Fringe Theatre in the annual Stage Awards.

2016  Our Whose London Is It Anyway? festival, exploring gentrification and the housing crisis,  includes our in-house production, This Is Private Property. CPT plays a prominent role in the A Nation’s Theatre festival, co-curating a national symposium on artist support, called All Tomorrow’s Theatre. Later in 2016, we programme the first ever All the Right Notes gig-theatre festival; and our People’s Theatre Award commission, Gameshow and Emily Lim’s show with pupils at neary Netley Primary, Grown Up.

CPT in partnership with the Fitzrovia Centre and New Diorama launches Camden Youth Theatre, a new creative club for 13-19 year olds in the area. CPT also initiates the new network of artist-supporting London theatre venues, STAMP.

2017  Two major new festivals are big hits for CPT this year: ‘Hotbed’, our season on sex and sexuality; and ‘Come As You Are’, on transgender, non-binary and gender-queer identity. The latter is headlined by CPT co-pro, Milk Presents’ Bullish – our inaugural Home Run commission. Also this year, our acclaimed new in-house show, Fog Everywhere, a collaboration with students at Westminster Kingsway College and researchers at Kings College London, addressing London air pollution.

2018 CPT secures NPO funding for the 2018-22 period. New festivals include ‘Common People’ – on working-class identity, experience and representation – and ‘No Direction Home’, on displacement, migration and refuge. Our second major Home Run commission is Racheal Ofori’s So Many Reasons, headlining ‘Calm Down, Dear’. We also programme a bumper three-week run of Haley McGee’s smash-hit, CPT-developed The Ex Boyfriend Yard Sale. CPT secures Arts Council Strategic Touring funding to tour  ‘Come As You Are’, visiting five UK cities in autumn 2018.

CPT also appoints its new Executive Director, Kaya Stanley-Money.

2019 Our 25th birthday is marked by major new Home Run co-productions with Jennifer Tang (Ghost Girl / Gwei Mui), Lanre Malaolu (Elephant in the Room) and Eurotrash (Trigger Warning), the latter as part of our unique ‘Handle with Care’ festival. We celebrate our local area with the ‘Camden Roar’ festival, headlined by CPT’s very own Human Jam, a playful docu-theatre show, made with members of our community, about graveyards, ghosts and the impact of HS2 on our neighbourhood.

A 20-year lease is secured on the building leading to CPT’s first-ever capital funding from Arts Council England to undertake improvements to our theatre and building.

2020 CPT closes as a result of the pandemic but secures funding to launch its largest-ever round of commissions and becomes a food distribution hub for emergency food parcels.

2021 The newly redeveloped theatre opens to the public.

Dusted down and retrieved from our vaults; here’s a piece from one of our local papers, the Ham & High, who over two decades ago – interviewed with the artists who set up CPT:

CPT in 1994

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