CPT works to a festival-driven programming model, whereby we stage 3-4 festivals annually, often themed around issues of social, political or cultural currency. Our festivals get people talking, amplify our artists’ voices in the public conversation – and attract audiences who might not otherwise engage with contemporary theatre. We programme our festivals in part through open call for submissions – advertised here and distributed widely.
Around these festivals, we stage an (almost) year-round curated programme of the best new theatre we can find from the country’s most exciting independent artists – particularly those who’re early in their career. The length of a run at CPT can vary from 1 – 3 nights to one-week runs to three-week runs. Find out more about our programming here.
Calm Down, Dear
CPT’s acclaimed feminism festival launched in 2013 with shows including Bridget Christie’s award-winning standup set A Bic for Her and Louise Orwin’s electrifying solo show Pretty Ugly. Revived each year by popular demand, it has since featured electrifying work by Racheal Ofori, Hanna Silva, Charlotte Josephine, Ira Brand, Rosana Cade, Milk Presents and more, alongside much-discussed performances including Fuel Theatre’s Phenomenal People and Vanessa Kisuule’s SEXY.
Calm Down, Dear will next run in spring 2020. Keep an eye on our opportunities page to find out when you can apply to be part of the festival.
Sprint is CPT’s flagship annual festival of adventurous new performance. For 20+ years, it’s been hosting the most eye-opening new talents in theatre – many of whom are now fixtures on major stages worldwide. In March 2019, we delivered another intense hit of creativity: three weeks of shows like you’d never seen shows before, by the most exciting theatre-makers you’d yet to meet.
Always a highlight of the CPT year, Sprint is when we play fastest and loosest, where we open our doors widest to the most extraordinary array of new and diverse indie theatre talent. Join us every March for this cavalcade of invention, entertainment and new ideas.
Sprint includes our Starting Blocks showcase: the culmination of a 10-week artistic development scheme. Click here to find out more about Starting Blocks, for which we’ll be opening the call for submissions in autumn this year.
Sprint festival runs throughout March each year. Keep an eye on our opportunities page to find out when you can apply to be part of the festival.
Throughout August each year, CPT hires out our theatre to artists and companies taking part in Camden Fringe – “an unrivalled chance to see edgy, experimental and brand new theatre at bargain-basement prices” (Time Out, 2017). You can find more info and how to take part here.
Handle with Care
Trigger warnings. No platforming. Cultural appropriation.
In years gone by, the old criticised the young for being reckless and rude. Nowadays, the young – so-called ‘Generation Snowflake’ – stand accused of being over-sensitive and lacking resilience. Too quick to take – and too scared to give – offence. CPT’s 2019 festival ‘Handle with Care’ takes this idea to task. Are we more sensitive to ‘micro-aggressions’ – or just less willing to tolerate them? Where does healthy self-assertion end – and entitlement begin?
Over three weeks, and headlined by Natasha Nixon and Marcelo dos Santos’s extraordinary new show Trigger Warning, the UK’s most exciting theatre-makers strike out beyond their safe spaces to explore this brave (or should that be timid?) new world.
No Direction Home
What does it mean to be an exile – or a descendant of exiles? To whom do we owe refuge, and how do we best provide it? Who gets to feel at home in Britain in 2018 – and who doesn’t?
In the autumn of 2018, CPT presented a new festival exploring displacement, migration and refuge. Ranging from the de-funding of women’s refuges to the ongoing migrant crisis and beyond, this three-week event featured workshops, discussions and electrifying new theatre from the brightest and boldest of UK and international artists.
‘No Direction Home’ also launched CPT’s unique standup course and collective for people from refugee and migrant backgrounds, co-created with Counterpoint Arts and the comedian Tom Parry. The group now performs regularly at CPT and beyond.
Come As You Are
When did you come out as male? Or female? For Come As You Are, CPT welcomes a host of gender-anarchists with more questions than answers, as we confront (and solve?) all the world’s issues regarding female, male, between and beyond. It’s not going to be pretty – but it might just be beautiful.
In the last few years, progressive thinking about gender has gone mainstream, and understanding has developed of gender as infinite variety. More and more individuals are reclaiming the right to define their genders, their bodies, their selves. Some have called this “the ultimate forum for self-expression”, some “the next civil rights frontier”. Either way, it’s a destabilising and liberating cultural change.
Come As You Are ran at CPT from 12 – 30 September 2017 and was headlined by Milk Presents’ new show Bullish, commissioned by CPT. It went on to tour – CPT’s first ever touring festival – in autumn 2018.
We live in a world saturated with sexual imagery – but how often do we talk about sex as it’s really felt, experienced or imagined? And why is theatre so seldom a part of that conversation? Hotbed is CPT’s brand new festival of sex: three weeks of adventurous performance guaranteed to expand your carnal knowledge.
Hotbed ran from 25 April – 14 May 2017 and consisted of 42 events over 20 days. The festival was headliner was Oh Yes Oh No by Louise Orwin and received ★ ★ ★ ★ from The Stage (“startling and resonant”) alongside glowing reviews in The Guardian (“bold, brave work”), Exeunt (“honest and uncomplicatedly brave”) and The F Word (“fascinating”).
Other performances included Snowballing by Rebecca Atkinson-Lord and Greg Wohead, Come With Me by Helen Duff, walk pause walk by Ponyboy Curtis, Your Sexts Are Shit by Rachel Mars & Folk, Spill by Propolis Theatre and tons more.
Is working-class “cool” again? Or is that a smokescreen for never-ending austerity: the most sustained attack on people with low incomes in living memory?
Is there “a class-shaped hole” in the diversity debate – and what can we do to plug it?
Who gets to tell working-class stories, and who gets to watch them?
In the spring of 2018, CPT invited audiences to join us for a cracking lineup of working-class theatre-makers – including Jackie Hagan, Scottee, Kelly Green, Holly Beasley-Garrigan and others – on a two-week exploration of the truth, the prole truth and nothing but the truth.
All The Right Notes
Our pioneering gig-theatre festival All the Right Notes ran from 15 November – 3 December 2016 and brought together trailblazing work from the place where theatre and live music meet.
It featured not only theatre-makers whose work is driven by live music, but music acts whose work is audaciously theatrical.
With shows including Mingbeast’s Awful Things Can Happen At Any Time, Rachel Mars’ Our Carnal Hearts and Will Dickie’s The Rave Space, plus a strand of work exploring music fandom and a live music programme curated by journalist and DJ Joe Muggs, All the Right Notes was a blistering bulletin from the blurred lines where live music and theatre converge. Watch the trailer.
In partnership with the European Theatre Research Network (University of Kent), the Inside/Outside Europe Research Network (University of Winchester) and Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre (Birkbeck College), CPT presented two mini-festivals in 2016 exploring European identity. Featuring five terrific new performances from some of the UK’s most exciting artists, plus talks, discussions and provocations.
Being European: Before the Referendum took place in June 2016, and Being European: After the Referendum took place in September 2016.
Whose London Is It Anyway?
A festival of theatre, performance and discussion exploring the changing face of our capital city. In the run-up to the May 2016 mayoral election, this unique event explored London’s housing crisis, the impact of “regeneration”, the privatising of public space, and the experience of living in Europe’s only megacity.
As artists ‘pop up’ in defunct shops, social housing tenants are moved hundreds of miles across the country, and garages sell for hundreds of thousands of pounds, CPT asked: What is a city for? Who does London belong to? What do we want to protect about our city, and what are we prepared to lose?
Whose London Is It Anyway? ran from 9 – 31 January 2016 and was headlined by our first in-house production directed by Brian Logan (artistic director).
Fitter Happier More Productive
A selection of cutting-edge artists explore the cult of self-betterment, and how it feels to be imperfect in its shadow.
For one week in November 2015, CPT artists addressed what’s recently been referred to as “the wellness syndrome”: the demand for us all to be fit, beautiful, dynamic and happy, and – of course – to keep paying for the privilege. And if you’re unfit, not beautiful, stuck and unhappy – well, it’s a personal failing, right? Pull your socks up.
The State We’re In
For three weeks in the run-up to the 2015 General Election, we looked at the options on offer, and the context in which the decision is to be made. How were we persuaded that austerity was necessary? Why are poor people under attack – and who represents them? Who is Generation Anger, and what are they going to do with their rage?
The State We’re In ran from 22 April – 9 May 2015 and was headlined by a co-production with Beats + Elements’ No Milk for the Foxes which enjoyed positive reviews from The Stage (“raw and authentic”) , Exeunt (“dramatic authenticity is pitch perfect”) and Londonist (“mature and relevant with an impressive amount of soul”).
Find out more about how we programme here.