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Interview: Camden People's Theatre co-Directors Brian Logan and Jenny Paton talk Sprint 2013

The capital’s best loved annual festival of innovative performance returns to stage theatre in an exciting variety of places throughout Camden and West Euston, from in and around the venue, to local pubs, offices, and even a burger van. Sprint follows two successful new festivals at CPT (Camden People's Theatre), November’s Futureshock where theatre makers envisioned possible futures and January’s Beyond the Joke, examining the crossover of theatre and comedy. With a brand new bar area and audience numbers on the rise, CPT under the new directorship of Jenny Paton and Brian Logan is fast becoming central London’s go-to venue for dynamic new performance. Here we catch up with them on their next adventure - Sprint.

Run-Riot: If there was such a thing as a SPRINT purist, what would their taste be and what would they be booking tickets for?
Brian Logan and Jenny Paton:
Sprint purist is almost a contradiction, in that, if you love Sprint, you want to see something with new and unexpected ingredients - that’s impure, in other words. So the dedicated follower of Sprint is someone keen to be surprised as well as entertained by their trip to the theatre, who’s curious about new ways of doing things, who wants an unusual night out and a chance to see exciting artists they may not have encountered before.
 
And we’ve got a festival pass just for them, which buys you five shows for the price of only three. Why just dip your toe into a festival? Jump in!
 
Run-Riot: Which productions lean towards the 'entertainment' end of theatre?
Brian Logan and Jenny Paton:
We’re big on entertainment. The shows we stage at CPT are often experimental, but never (we hope) at the expense of the audience having a good night out. If you’re in the market for fun first and foremost, the Sprint shows to go for are Odd Comic’s surreal job-interview comedy Would Be Nice Though (Fri 1 March), staged in an office nearby; Brian Lobel’s double-bill, Purge and Ruach (also Fri 1 March), mainly because he’s such a dependably amusing performer; Laura Mugridge’s The Watery Journey of Nereus Pike (Wed 13 & Thur 14 March), a musical nautical epic; and Laura Hemming-Lowe’s spoof celebrity therapy workshop Beauty/Life Taster Session 2 (Wed 6 & Thur 7 March), in the middle of the festival’s first week.
 
Run-Riot: Which are the most politically incorrect, and right-on shows?
Brian Logan and Jenny Paton:
If you’re looking for non-pc, it’s hard to see past the title I’m Just Like Magda Goebbels (Fri 8 & Sat 9 March), Sara Kewly’s piece about the wife of the Nazi propaganda minister. But the show’s more than just a taboo-teasing provocation. We’ve also got the Conker Group’s Political Me: Apology Songs (Tue 19 March), Tara Robinson’s musical confession about a lifetime of being insufficiently right-on.
 
At the opposite end of the politics spectrum, Harry Giles supplies a much-needed blast of revolutionary ire with Class Act (Thur 21 March), the great gaming/theatre outfit Coney host a Show & Tell Salon (i.e., a big, all-comers-welcome conversation) on the theme of activism (Sun 10 March), and Taylan Halici subverts capitalist orthodoxy by doing odd jobs for you - and paying you for the privilege (that’s Work Fair on Wed 13 March; form an orderly queue now...)
 
Run-Riot: Will the festival be presenting work in any off-site locations this year?
Brian Logan and Jenny Paton:
Plenty. Alongside the Odd Comic show in an office, we’ve got Tin Box, down from Birmingham with Pint Dreams (Thur 21 & Fri 22 March), an intimate storytelling encounter in the Shaker & Co pub just up the road. On Sat 23 March, CPT regulars Sh!t Theatre are staging Burger Van (another of their shows about the wrong end of the employment market) in an, er, burger van parked outside our theatre. Encounter Productions and Newtoy are both offering (radically different) audio-theatre experiences in the streets of west Euston and Camden. And CPT will be retailing a weekend of free offbeat performance in a shopfront in Crowndale Rd, Camden on March 23 & 24, the last weekend of the festival.
 
Run-Riot: What new blood are you introducing this year?
Brian Logan and Jenny Paton:
It’s really important that Sprint is open to everyone, and - this year like every year - a large proportion of the shows were programmed via an open application process. It’s one of the ways CPT refreshes its gene pool, and gives emerging or excluded artists a break. So in 2013, we’ve scheduled shows by Teatro En Vilo, a young Anglo-Spanish company with the UK premiere of their show Interrupted (Wed 13 March). Tracy Harris is making her CPT debut with Lost.Found.Stolen (Mon 18 March), which has been developed in Wales with ex-CPT director Matt Ball. Also on Mon 18th, Rough Triangle are bringing a “party performance” deconstructing the dynamics of birthday celebrations, and Mary Pearson is bringing her solo show Failure (& other opportunities for non-linear success) to London for the first time, on Sat 2 March, having created it in cahoots with CPT favourites including Jamie (Petra’s Pulse) Wood and Hannah (Opposition) Silva.
 
Run-Riot: Any old favourites returning to the festival?
Brian Logan and Jenny Paton:
We try to make Sprint as new as possible - but sometimes we can’t resist. A few shows that had in-progress performances during Sprint 2012 are back, in finished version. These include Jess (Made In China) Latowicki’s fierce A Faultline (Wed 6 & Thur 7 March) and Chris Dugrenier’s part-gym class, part-theatre show Elan Vital (Tue 12 March), which interrogates the idea that “you’re never too old.” There are also artists involved who’re well known to CPT audiences, such as Mamoru Iriguchi (who’s trapped in our window for three nights, painting hello’s to passersby) and Laura Mugridge, whose campervan show Running on Air was a hit here in 2011.
 
Run-Riot: Which night(s) are best to see as many performances as possible?
Brian Logan and Jenny Paton:
On almost every night of the festival, there are multiple events happening in or near CPT. If you want to max out, our Short Cuts night, on Saturday 16th March, features six different artists performing six short shows - some in-progress, some already perfectly formed. These artists include “Foster’s Comedy God” Kazuko Hohki, with her in-development show The Man from Fukushima, and Olwen Davies with Fridge Logic, a performance about bad re-enactments of classic movies.
 
Later in the festival, on Sun 24 March, our Starting Blocks showcase gets you five artists or companies for a fiver, all showing new work as part of our annual in-house development scheme. This year’s crop includes Newtoy, Splinter Group, Louise Orwin - with a startling performance about teenage girls and the internet - Tom Frankland & Keir Cooper, and Anne Langford’s project about the French, female Robinson Crusoe.
 
Run-Riot: Can you tell us about your Glasgow Live Art connection?
Brian Logan and Jenny Paton:
It’s a brand new connection, and we’re really chuffed about it. I spend half my life frustrated at all the great events in far-flung parts of the UK that I can’t get to. Solution: bring them to CPT. Fortunately, Nick and Rosana at Glasgow’s amazing Buzzcut festival of live art and performance were up for that, and we’ve arranged for a one-night-only Buzzcut@Sprint event, that brings two of their best shows (Automaton, by Murray Wason; and 29/92 by Laura Bradshaw) to CPT on Monday 11 March. I hope it’s the start of a lasting relationship.
 
Run-Riot: Anything going on in the periphery?
Brian Logan and Jenny Paton:
It’s hard to know where the centre ends and the periphery starts. We’ve got talks and workshops, Q&A’s and odd uncategorisable events - but they’re integral to what Sprint’s about. We’re really looking forward to the public sharing, on Sun 3 March, after Coney’s Playful Documentary Unit workshop out in west Euston and Camden. What will they have found about our local area to make art (or a documentary) about? We’re really pleased to be launching a new co-commission with the UK’s three other most ace theatre festivals - Sampled, Pulse and Bristol’s Mayfest. After an early-stage performance of the commissioned show, Made In China’s Gym Party, on Sat 23 March, we’re having a Q&A about the role of festivals in making new work happen. We’re piloting a new offering to our audience, the Talk Show Club, on Thur 14 March - it’s like a book group for theatregoers, who get hosted by a CPT artist at a performance of Laura Mugridge’s Nereus Pike show, then invited to chat about it afterwards over drinks.
 
And then there are random happenings like Taylan Halici’s Friends of Friends, a one-to-one walk between Parliament Hill and Highgate cemetery, available only to friends of Taylan’s friends whom he hasn’t met yet.
 
Run-Riot: What's the uniting strand of SPRINT?
Brian Logan and Jenny Paton:
It’s a festival: it’s meant to be an escape from the everyday. So Sprint is about doing things differently from usual and splashing the month with colour. It’s a carnival of the imagination; a celebration of the infinite new ways in which an audience and artists can meet, laugh and communicate with one another about important things. And it’s an adventure. Hijacking a working office in Camden to staging a surreal theatre event - that’s an adventure. Turning CPT into a cabaret venue on Sat 9 March, for a triple-bill headlined by the wonderfully theatrical band TemperTemper - that’s an adventure. Challenging our artists to occupy an empty shop, and entertain passing pedestrians - that’s an adventure too. Hopefully, audiences will sign up to that, and come along for the ride.
 
Sprint
at Camden People's Theatre
58 – 60 Hampstead Road
London NW1 2PY
1st to 24th March 2013 | Various times (as indicated) I 08444 77 1000 | www.cptheatre.co.uk