The Counter Productions Theatre (CPT) Company burst into the consciousness of the Rhode Island theater world this year with a bang. At the 2014 Motif Theater Awards, CPT was nominated in six categories, and won in four. Although the CPT just completed its third season in RI, Ted Clement and Christine Fox, the heart, soul and brains of CPT, both began their journey here. Fox originally comes from East Providence, Clement comes from Woonsocket. Both have impressive graduate degrees, awards and experience; both teach at CCRI; and together, they successfully manage their theater company. They stay in sync as a married couple through all of it, and remain humble about their accomplishments. That is rare, indeed.
The Counter Productions Theatre Company began in the Boston area, but a confluence of events brought them back to their native RI. As with many other artistic groups in this state, CPT found a good, affordable performance space nearly non-existent. Luckily, they’ve settled into the black box theater space at 95 Empire Street in downtown Providence. “The people at AS220 have been very helpful and supportive,” says Clement, the artistic director for CPT. He believes that move to a specific, visible space was key to their current recognition. Of course, talent, hard work and choosing a winning season are important too.
Their most popular show to date is Picasso at the Lapin Agile, written by Steve Martin. By the end of the second week’s run at 95 Empire, the show was so popular they were selling Standing Room-Only spaces. CPT believe they help bring a great reputation, as well as dollars, to the Ocean State, along with the larger institutions such as PPAC and other fine theater groups in the state.
Clement and Fox were quick to jump on the collaboration bandwagon in Rhode Island. Clement clearly admires “the really nice theater community” that exists in the state. Clement acted in Epic Theater Company’s Angels in America this year, and Epic’s artistic director, Kevin Broccoli, is already cast in CPT’s spring offering, Richard III. The original, Nico Was a Fashion Model, performed by CPT, was written by a colleague, J. Julian Christopher. The next production for CPT is an every-other-year favorite of theirs, the X-1 Series. Original radio plays from the 1950s and 1960s, written by science-fiction greats such as Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, are staged by CPT with the original dialogue. The Atomic Bride of X-1 opens in November.
In addition to his directing and acting duties, Clement conducted a Meisner Acting Workshop, which was warmly received, at 95 Empire. He hopes to repeat that offering in the future. Fox, as executive director, makes sure everything stays on schedule and makes sense for their busy schedules. Fox has high level literary, literacy and English degrees. She is a published author, and has presented a number of scholarly papers at language conferences. Clement is co-vice chair at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region 1. And among his list of credits is study at the Actors Studio Drama School at the New School in NYC.
Awards garnered by the CPT from Motif this year are Best Supporting Female – Valerie Remillard Myette; Best New Work – Nico Was a Fashion Model; Production of the Year – Picasso at the Lapin Agile (the one they are most proud of) and Best Scene Design – Picasso at the Lapin Agile (most surprising according to Clement). With this kind of power-house talent and experience, Counter Productions Theatre has upped the ante for the rest of the Rhode Island theater scene.