|Type||Theatre and Registered charity|
Progress Theatre is a local theatre company at Reading in England. It is a registered charity and it is a member of the Little Theatre Guild (LTG) and the National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA).
Progress Theatre was established in 1946 with the aim of presenting new and challenging work.
Its first production was staged in 1947 in Palmer Hall, West Street, Reading. It moved to its present location, The Mildmay Hall, The Mount (near Reading University) in 1951.
In 1964, after a fund raising campaign, the freehold of the building was bought. After modernisation, the theatre now seats 97 people.
Kenneth Branagh, who was a member of the theatre in the late 1970s became Progress Theatre patron in 2011.
In the 1950s a Student Group for 14- to 18-year-olds was set up. A charitable organisation, "The Progress Theatre" was established in 1962 with the object of promoting education in performing arts in Reading and the surrounding area. Since 2009, the Progress Youth Theatre consists of two groups for 15- to 18-year-olds and groups for school years 4 to 6 (ages 8 to 11), 7 to 8 (ages 11 to 13) and 9 to 10 (ages 13 to 15). The groups give a public performance each year.
The theatre has a membership of around 150 people and puts on a regular menu of classic and contemporary theatre. All of these productions are managed by volunteers.
The theatre also stages a summer open-air event, predominantly a Shakespeare play, at the historic and newly-revovated ruins of Reading Abbey. These productions are managed in partnership with Reading Borough Council. In 2007, the event was expanded to form the Reading Abbey Ruins Open Air Festival. Due to the ongoing restoration of the abbey, in 2011 the event temporarily moved to the gardens of Caversham Court, the site of a Tudor manor house on the banks of the River Thames. However, it returned to Reading Abbey Ruins in 2018, following the completion of the renovations, and continued to perform from this beautiful location.
Progress has presented contemporary plays since its founding and the first performances in England of The Good Woman of Setzuan by Bertolt Brecht and The Shadow of a Gunman by Seán O'Casey were produced at the theatre in 1952 and 1958 respectively.
More recently, Progress has produced a series of Christmas shows based on popular children's books including:
- Mort by Terry Pratchett (adap. Stephen Briggs) in 1997–1998
- James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl in 2005–2006, using an adaptation by David Wood usually available only to professional productions.
Recent years have also seen productions of notorious plays such as Blasted by Sarah Kane while the yearly open-air Shakespeare season continues to prove popular.
|Productions during the 2005–2006 season|
|The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband||Debbie Isitt||3 to 8 October 2005||Theatre archive|
|Godspell||John-Michael Tebelak / Stephen Schwartz||10 to 19 November 2005||Theatre archive|
|James and the Giant Peach||Roald Dahl (adapted by David Wood)||29 December 2005 to 7 January 2006||Theatre archive|
|Breaking the Code||Hugh Whitemore||9 to 18 February 2006|
|Julius Caesar||William Shakespeare||1 to 4 March 2006|
|Blasted||Sarah Kane||20 to 25 March 2006||BBC Review|
|In the Village / HotChitChat.com (double bill)||Mary Took / Arthur Burke (local writers)||24 to 29 April 2006|
|Skylight||David Hare||1 to 10 June 2006|
|Dracula (a Progress Youth Theatre production)||Bram Stoker (adapted by Glynn Oram, a local writer)||11 to 15 July 2006||BBC Review|
|The Winter's Tale (performed in the Reading Abbey Ruins)||William Shakespeare||17 to 29 July 2006|
|Productions during the 2006–2007 season|
|Entertaining Mr Sloane||Joe Orton||7 to 16 September 2006||Newbury Weekly News|
|Hanna and Hannah||John Retallack||9 to 14 October 2006||Newbury Weekly News|
|The Good Woman of Setzuan||Bertolt Brecht||16 to 25 November 2006||BBC|
|Alice in Storyland||Ali Carroll (local writer)||28 December 2006 to 6 January 2007|
|First Writefesta||A festival of new writing||22 to 27 January 2007|
|Wait Until Dark||Frederick Knott||22 February to 3 March 2007||Newbury Weekly News|
|The Far Side (performed at 21 South Street)||Courttia Newland||12 to 15 March 2007||BBC|
|The Insect Play (a Progress Youth Theatre production)||Josef and Karel Čapek||26 to 31 March 2007|
|Grey Owl (a visiting production by Progress Theatre (Canada))||Armand Garnet Ruffo||10 to 11 April 2007|
|Decadence / People in Cages (double bill)||Steven Berkoff / David Henry Wilson||16 to 21 April 2007||BBC|
|The Husband Defeated||Molière||10 to 19 May 2007|
|A Midsummer Night's Dream (performed in the Reading Abbey Ruins)||William Shakespeare||16 to 28 July 2007||BBC Reading Evening Post|
|Productions during the 2008–2009 season|
|Honour||Joanna Murray-Smith||22 to 27 September 2008||Reading Evening Post review|
|Kindertransport||Diane Samuels||27 October to 1 November 2008||Reading Evening Post review Newbury Weekly News Review|
|The Tamer Tamed||John Fletcher||20 to 29 November 2008||Reading Evening Post review|
|Five Children and It||E. Nesbit, adapted by Ali Carroll||29 December 2008 to 10 January 2009||Reading Evening Post review Newbury Weekly News Review|
|Third Write Fest||A festival of new writing||29 to 31 January 2009||Reading Evening Post preview[permanent dead link]|
|Fear and Misery of the Third Reich||Bertolt Brecht||5 to 14 March 2009||Reading Evening Post review|
|Macbeth (a Progress Youth Theatre production)||William Shakespeare||30 March to 4 April||Reading Evening Post review|
|Entrapment||Nicola Abraham||16 to 18 April 2009|
|Popcorn||Ben Elton||7 to 16 May 2009||Reading Evening Post review|
|The Dianalogues||Laurel Haines||8 to 13 June 2009|
|Productions during the 2009–2010 season|
|Closer||Patrick Marber||28 September to 3 October 2009|
|4th Annual Writefest||A festival of new writing||22 to 24 October|
|Much Ado About Nothing||William Shakespeare||26 November to 5 December|
|Going Postal||Terry Pratchett (adap. Stephen Briggs)||28 January to 6 February 2010|
|A Couple of Poor, English-Speaking Poles||Dorota Masłowska||1 to 6 March|
|The Importance of Being Earnest and Travesties (a Progress Youth Theatre production)||Oscar Wilde and Tom Stoppard||22 to 27 March||Get Reading review|
|Intimate Exchanges||Alan Ayckbourn||14 to 24 April||Get Reading preview Get Reading review|
|The Pillowman||Martin McDonagh||20 to 29 May|
|Progress Youth Theatre production||14 to 19 June|
|Death and the Maiden||Ariel Dorfman||5 to 10 July|
- Sir Kenneth Branagh made his earliest theatre appearances with Progress Theatre in the 1970s, including one minor role as "second policeman" and is the theatre's patron.
- Dame Judi Dench is currently the patron of the Friends of Progress Theatre.
- Marianne Faithfull, a pop singer and actress, was a member of the Theatre's Student Group in the early 1960s.
- Gerard Johnson, a British keyboard player, was also a member of the Theatre's Student Group between 1976 and 1981.
- Peter Strickland, director and screenwriter of Berberian Sound Studio.
- Elize du Toit, an actress who has appeared in Hollyoaks and Skyfall.
- Brendan Patricks, a London based magician and actor from Downton Abbey.
A.^ My Voice(s), a piece of new writing featured in the First Write Fest, was subsequently developed and performed at the 2007 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.[permanent dead link]
- ^ "The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband – review". BBC. Retrieved 4 September 2007.
- ^ "Progress Theatre: A Brief History". Progress Theatre. Archived from the original on 17 July 2007. Retrieved 18 March 2007.
- ^ a b "Kenneth Branagh becomes Reading Progress Theatre patron". BBC News. 23 July 2011. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
- ^ "Kenneth Branagh's latest role at Progress Theatre". getreading.co.uk. Trinity Mirror Southern. 7 June 2013. Archived from the original on 20 November 2015. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
- ^ "Progress Theatre: Charity Framework". Charity Commission. Retrieved 11 May 2009.
- ^ a b "Progress Youth Theatre". Progress Theatre. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- ^ "The Winter's Tale". BBC. Retrieved 18 March 2007.
- ^ "Reading Abbey Ruins Open Air Festival: History". Progress Theatre. Archived from the original on 6 January 2009. Retrieved 15 July 2008.
- ^ a b "Branagh News Archive: July 2003 – December 2003". Branagh Compendium. Retrieved 18 March 2007.
- ^ "Progress Theatre productions since 1946". Progress Theatre. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- ^ "Discworld Monthly – Issue 9: January 1998". Retrieved 19 March 2007.
- ^ "Discworld Monthly – Issue 10: February 1998". Retrieved 19 March 2007.
- ^ "Discworld Monthly – Issue 11: March 1998". Retrieved 19 March 2007.
- ^ "Today you can:… The Telegraph". The Daily Telegraph. London. 4 January 2006. Archived from the original on 16 May 2007. Retrieved 19 March 2007.
Bypass panto: see the stage version of Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach
- ^ "Progress show is giant step forwards". icBerkshire. Retrieved 11 June 2007.
- ^ "Blasted: BBC Berkshire review". Retrieved 19 March 2007.
- ^ "Blasted: reviews". Archived from the original on 14 May 2007. Retrieved 19 March 2007.
- ^ "Have we got Shrews for you..." Reading Evening Post. Retrieved 14 July 2008.
- ^ 'Peter Strickland celebrates win at British Film Awards', 9 February 2010, retrieved 22 October 2013
- ^ 'Elize du Toit Official Biography', retrieved 14 January 2015