Who We Are
Progress Theatre is a self-governing, self-funding theatre group, run by volunteers, and founded in 1946. We are members of the Little Theatre Guild and the National Operatic and Dramatic Association, and are a registered charity in England (no. 1182798).
Our intimate 96 seat venue has a fully licensed bar and is the oldest producing theatre in Reading. There is wheelchair access and a hearing loop, and we are committed to making further improvements in the coming years to make our building more accessible.
Progress is governed and maintained by volunteers. We have a thriving Youth Theatre, a Digital Theatre, Writers' Group, Friends of Progress patrons, and a friendly and energetic community of members.
We also enjoy good relations with the Arts and Leisure department of Reading Borough Council, who support us in our Open Air Shakespeare productions at Reading Abbey Ruins each summer.
Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service
In June 2020, we were very honoured to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, an incredible recognition of the extensive contributions and work of all past and present members.
This award represents an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), and is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK, to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities.
To create excellent theatre!
- To present a quality programme of popular and challenging theatre
- To keep members happy and involved
- To provide an attractive and safe venue
- To remain financially viable
- To pursue a development strategy
- To pursue excellence in theatrical standards
- To make involvement enjoyable
- To treat everyone with respect and without discrimination
- To foster personal development
A Brief History
Progress Theatre was established in 1946 by a young, enthusiastic and forward-looking group, to present new and challenging theatre productions in Reading.
The first production was staged in 1947 and for the first five years performances were held in Palmer Hall, West Street. The Mildmay Hall, on The Mount, was found to be available for rent from the Co-operative Society, who agreed to its use as a theatre. The members, together with families and friends, converted it into a working theatre and the first in-house production was held in October 1951. In 1963-64 after a massive fund-raising campaign, the Freehold of the building was bought thanks to a fair price from the Co-op.
The basis of the present foyer was built at that time together with other (then modern) facilities. With other alterations and extensions over the years, productions are still staged in the same building. It now seats 96 people and includes wheelchair access and a hearing loop.