What's on

♫ Two of a Mind

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Adult: £17, Concessions: £15 + booking fee
or call 0118 384 2169 Telephone sales will cost an additional £1.50
Chris Biscoe, Alison Neil

Friday 1 September at 7.30pm

  • Chris Biscoe baritone saxophone
  • Alison Neale alto sax
  • Jeremy Brown bass
  • Stu Butterfield drums
  • Colin Oxley guitar

Chris Biscoe and Alison Neale evoke the delights, wit and sublime inventive genius of the Gerry Mulligan/Paul Desmond collaboration which produced the classic albums Blues in Time and Two Of A Mind in the late fifties and early sixties. The band will feature tracks from their first album Then And Now  (Trio  tr597), released in March 2017, which includes arrangements from the original albums, as well as new compositions and arrangements by Chris and Alison.

Biscoe and Neale provide a perfect foil for each other; a civilized, unhurried musical conversation, beautifully supported by bassist Jeremy Brown, drummer Stu Butterfield and the subtle guitar of Colin Oxley.

As Dave Gelly commented in his 4-star review of The And Now for the Guardian, ‘It all sounds bright, sharp and, well, modern.’

Chris Biscoe is self taught, starting on sax then alto clarinet. He graduated from Sussex University in 1968 with a degree in English Literature and worked as a computer programmer before committing himself full-time to music in 1973. After experience of modern, fusion and free jazz he started working with Mike Westbrook in 1979 and has played in many of Mike’s projects including The Westbrook Blake, The Cortege, On Duke’s Birthday, London Bridge and Chanson Irresponsable. He has also toured and recorded with George Russell, Andy Sheppard, Grand Union, Chris McGregor, Didier Levallet and worked with Hermeto Pascoal, Dewey Redman, Kenny Wheeler and the New York Composers Orchestra, co-led by Wayne Horvitz and Marty Erlich. In addition, Chris has recorded and broadcast prolifically as a leader of his own bands and was a founder member of the Way Out West musicians collective.

“An Alto sound like brushed velvet…” is how one writer described the playing of American born Alison Neale. Her beautifully crafted lines evoke the cool Pacific breeze of ‘West Coast Jazz’ and the spirit of Paul Desmond and Art Pepper, with whom she has a particular affinity. She has performed alongside leading international artists such as Adelaide Hall and Bud Shank and more recently tenorist Scott Hamilton, as well as featuring in both the John Dankworth ‘Generations‘ Band and the ‘Back to Basie’ Orchestra. She frequently tours the UK with her Quartet, and has several albums to her name: Melody Express, Blue Concept and I Wished on the Moon.

Jeremy Brown graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 1994 and went on to work in Peter King’s quartet and pianist Julian Joseph’s trio. He has since become much in demand in the UK and Europe backing soloists such as Charles Mcpherson, Deborah Brown and Curtis Stigers and working as the regular member of many groups including those of Stacey Kent and Anita Wardell, the BBC Big Band and the John Wilson Orchestra.

Drummer, Stu Butterfield has been a well established and highly regarded player on theUK scene since the late sixties. He is a member of ‘The Great Wee Band’ with Henry Lowther, Jim Mullen and Dave Green and a founder member of the ‘Strayhorn Project’, formed in 2003 to perform the less frequently heard compositions of Billy Strayhorn.

Born in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, guitarist Colin Oxley, graduated from the Guildhall School of Music in 1990. He was voted Jazz Musician of The Year in 2001 by the Worshipful Company of Musicians. His remarkable CV includes work with American legends such as Scott Hamilton and Harry Allen, extensive touring with Stacey Kent, membership of Steve Fishwick’s Quartet, the Dave Newton Quartet, Mark Crooks’ Quintet, the Back to Basie Orchestra, the John Wilson Orchestra, Steve Kaldestad’s Quartet, Simon Thorpe’s Swing Band and his wife Eriko Ishihara’s Quintet, with whom he has toured widely in Japan and produced several albums for Japanese record labels. Colin is currently a professor at the Guildhall School of Music where he teaches jazz guitar.

Jazz at Progress is presented in association with Jazz in Reading.

12th Annual WriteFest

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Adult: £12, Concessions: £10
or call 0118 384 2169 Telephone sales will cost an additional £1.50

12th WriteFest banner

6-9 September 2017, including Saturday matinée at 2.30pm
Evening performances at 7.45pm. Doors and bar open at 7.15pm

See something new! Our 12th festival of new writing; 6 short plays in one evening, chosen by competition and never before staged.

Each year Progress Theatre performs a selection of works by both budding and experienced writers to bring you this consistently popular annual production. If you're a newcomer to theatre, then this is a chance to discover what genre you enjoy the most. If you are an old hand, we can promise you a programme as vaired and entertaining as in previous years.

  • The Last Bus by Alison Hill
  • If It Be Now by Marie French
  • Buried by Matthew Beswick
  • Pen by Ian Petrie
  • A Little Nibble by John R. Goodman
  • Fairy Tails by Debra Evitts
12th WriteFest 2017

Hamlet

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Adult: £12, Concessions: £10
or call 0118 384 2169 Telephone sales will cost an additional £1.50

by William Shakespeare


12-21 October 2017, performances at 7.45pm
Doors open at 7.15pm.

William Shakespeare’s most famous play is given a new twist on the Progress stage. In a world which parallels our own, Hamlet mourns the loss of her royal father whilst her uncle seizes the throne and takes her newly-widowed mother as his Queen. An encounter with her father’s ghost drives Hamlet to agonies of despair and the edge of madness. Should she suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? Or take arms against a sea of troubles?

Cast

Megan Turnell Hamlet
John Turner Claudius
Liz Paulo Gertrude
Kate Shaw Horatio
Tanvi Virmani Ophelia
Alex Critchley Laertes
Richard Tripp Polonius
Jim McGuigan Ghost of Hamlet's father
Steph Dewar Marcellus, Player King, Osric
Tara O’Connor Bernardo, Player Prologue, Gravedigger 2
Emma Doyle Francisco, Player Queen, Priest
Mikhail Franklin Gravedigger 1, Dane
Izzy Hayden Rosencrantz
Chloe Stoakes Guildenstern
Claudia Wittkowske   Lucianus, Player

Directed by Aidan Moran

♫ Ray Gelato & Alex Garnet “Tough Tenors” Quintet

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Adult: £18, Concessions: £16 + booking fee
or call 0118 384 2169 Telephone sales will cost an additional £1.50
Alex Garnett, Ray Gelato

Friday 27 October at 7.30pm

  • Ray Gelato tenor sax
  • Alex Garnett tenor sax
  • Gunther Kurmayr piano
  • Manuel Alvarez bass
  • Matt Home drums

Ray Gelato is best known as the leader of “Ray Gelato Giants” a band which regularly plays to full houses around the world and which has been a favourite at the world-famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London, including holding down a 14 year residency over the Christmas period.

“Not for nothing is Gelato known as The Godfather of Swing, a sheer delight” – Daily Telegraph

“He plays what he means and he means what he plays”- Jools Holland

Ray Gelato and Alex Garnett rekindle their musical partnership after 20 years! Influenced by some great tenor sax partnerships such as Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Johnny Griffin, Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt, Ray and Alex present two contrasting styles of tenor saxophone playing.

Garnett is bluesy, progressive and bop influenced, with a highly personal style that mixes great technique with soulful harmonic and melody lines. Meanwhile Gelato takes the swing heroes such as Illinois Jacquet and Don Byas as his role models, using a big warm sound and melodic phrases in order to build excitement in his solos.

The contrast between these players makes the repertoire exhilarating and absorbing and both have the ability to tell a story in their brilliant solos.

Ray and Alex are supported by a great rhythm section, two of whom are also permanent members of “Ray Gelato Giants” band. These are Gunther Kurmayr on piano and Manuel Alvarez on double bass. The trio is completed by Matt Home on drums who regularly plays with many of the leading musicians in London, the UK and Europe and who also appears regularly at Ronnie Scott’s as part of the house band.

Jazz at Progress is presented in association with Jazz in Reading.

Buddy Cop 2

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Adult: £12, Concessions: £10
or call 0118 384 2169
Telephone sales will cost an additional £1.50

Written by Paul Thureen and Hannah Bos
Developed by Oliver Butler

13-18 November 2017, performances at 7.45pm
Doors open at 7.15pm.

Two cops...in the kind of quiet little town where a kid dreams of growing up to be a fireman. Or a racecar driver. Where the only question you ask yourself at the end of the day is if you're gonna knock back your cold one at Swanky's, Spanky's, or Zingers. A town where neighbors pitch in to help neighbors in need, and where if you wake up in the middle of the night...you should keep your eyes closed. Because the man in red is there in the corner. Watching you. Smiling at you with his yellow eyes and black teeth. Best to pretend you're still asleep.

When a flood destroys the police station, the local cops set up shop in the nearby community centre, in this early 80s comedic action/mystery of holiday nostalgia and athletic rigour.

Auditions: Sun 30 July at 3pm or Tue 1 Aug

Directed by Dan Clarke

Buddy Cop 2 script sample

 

This amateur production of “Buddy Cop 2” is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, LTD.

The Picture of Dorian Grey

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Adult: £8
or call 0118 384 2169
Telephone sales will cost an additional £1.50

adapted by Ali and Liz Carroll from the novel by Oscar Wilde

12-16 December 2017, performances at 7.45pm
Doors open at 7.15pm.

Progress Youth Theatre bring Oscar Wilde's famous novel to the stage with this new adaptation.

Dorian is a good-natured young man until he discovers the power of his own exceptional beauty. As he gradually sinks deeper into a frivolous, glamorous world of selfish luxury, he apparently remains physically unchanged by the stresses of his corrupt lifestyle and untouched by age. But up in his attic, hidden behind a curtain, his portrait tells a different story.

Directed by Ali Carroll

Maskerade

By Terry Pratchett. Adapted by Stephen Briggs

18-27 January 2018, performances at 7.45pm
with matinées at 2.30pm on 20 and 27 January.
Doors open 30 minutes earlier.

All is not well in the Ankh-Morpork Opera House. A ghost stalks the dark corridors, leaving strange letters for the management and ... killing people. Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, two Lancre witches, investigate, and are soon involved in all kinds of skulduggery, mayhem and ear-splittingly loud  singing. Quirky and original characters, a labyrinthine plot and numerous witty one-liners make this a treat for Discworld fans and Pratchett newbies alike.

Audition: 2pm Sun 17 Sep or 7.30pm Wed 20 Sep

Directed by Christine Moran

Maskerade script sample

 

This amateur production of “Maskerade” is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, LTD.

A Clockwork Orange

by Anthony Burgess

19-24 February 2018, performances at 7.45pm
with a matinée on 24 February at 2.30pm.
Doors open 30 minutes earlier.

Alex and his vicious teenage gang revel in horrific violence, mugging and gang rape. Alex also revels in the music of Beethoven. The Gang communicate in a slang language that is as twisted as their outlook on life. When a drug-fuelled night of fun ends in murder, Alex is finally busted and banged up. He is given a choice - be brainwashed into good citizenship and set free, or face a lifetime inside.

This is a stage version of the infamous cult novel by Anthony Burgess, adapted by the author himself.

Directed by Matt Tully

 

This amateur production of “Mother Courage and Her Children” is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, LTD.

Mother Courage and Her Children

By Bertholt Brecht
Translated by Tony Kushner

19-24 March 2018, performances at 7.45pm
Doors open at 7.15pm.

Remaining a powerful indictment of war and social injustice, this is an epic drama set in the seventeenth century during the Thirty Years War. We follow the resilient Mother Courage who survives by running a commissary business that profits from all sides. As the war claims all of her children in turn, the play poignantly demonstrates that no one can profit from the war without being subject to its terrible cost.

Progress joins forces with our Youth Theatre to create a cast that spans the ages, to tell a story that spans the ages.

 

 

This amateur production of “Mother Courage and Her Children” is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, LTD.

Little Gem

By Elaine Murphy

16-21 April 2018, performances at 7.45pm
Doors open at 7.15pm.

Kay’s husband, Gem, has suffered a recent stroke and so is emotionally and physically distant from her, requiring homecare and is unable to feed or dress himself.  Lorraine has experienced something of an emotional break-down in work and has been encouraged by her employers to seek therapy, and Amber who abuses alcohol and cocaine, has recently started dating the wayward Paul. We follow the three through a series of emotional ups and downs, which ultimately bring them closer together.

Directed by Steph Dewar

 

Presented by arrangement with Nick Hern Books

Progress Premieres 2018

16-19 May 2018, performances at 7.45pm
Doors open at 7.15pm.

Progress brings more new writing to the stage with two new one-act plays:

Sh!t by Liz Carroll

Edie is in a wheelchair unable to speak or move. She is helpless apart from her one weapon - sh!t which she uses against the abusive charge nurse.  Tom is a trainee therapist - eager to use his communication board.  He stirs memories - but what is real and what are Edie’s romantic fantasies?The woman in the box challenges Edie to remember.  The layers are peeled away and the sadness and horror of Edie’s real story emerges.

Director Aidan Moran

Recovery Position by Anthony Travis

A phone call brings the traumas of Francis’ past back to haunt him, and sets him on a voyage to confront them. But his journey home takes an unexpected turn, a turn that may lead to him away from healing and towards mental disintegration. But how much of what he tells us is real, and how much in his head? And will his ghosts finally be laid to rest?

Director Ali Carroll

Happy Jack

By John Godber

11-16 June 2018, performances at 7.45pm
Matinée at 2.30pm on 16 June
Doors open 30 minutes earlier

Happy Jack is a funny and touching play about Jack and Liz, a couple inspired by John Godber’s own grandparents. Weaving through 60 years of marriage, the pair introduce us to the characters they have known in their Yorkshire mining village and take us through love, sadness, anger, joy and conflict, from courtship to retirement and much in between. 

"Neat, touching and joyously celebratory" - Financial Times
"There’s a truthful timeless quality to this little piece of Yorkshire social history that isn’t showing its age at all" - British Theatre Guide

Directed by Helen Wernham

 

This amateur production of “Happy Jack” is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, LTD.

 

Poetry of War

3-7 July 2018, performances at 7.45pm
Doors open 7.15pm

An evening of performance poetry to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War

Progress Youth Theatre, the creative talent that devised The Hidden Truth brings you a story of personal, political and social conflict through the medium of verse.

Published and devised poems are interwoven with a narrative following the lives of five generations of a family facing war through the ages since the outbreak of World War 1 – “The war to end all wars”.

 

Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare

in the Open Air at Caversham Court Gardens

11-21 July 2018

Enjoy an open-air production.of this great Shakespearean comedy - although with a touch of darkness. Bring something to sit on and perhaps a picnic for a classic summer evening by the river at Caversham Court Gardens.

Leonato welcomes friends back from war. His daughter, Hero, is in love with Claudio. His niece, Beatrice, verbally spars with Benedict. Can their friends conspire to bring them together? Will Leonato’s brother, Don John, succeed in driving Claudio and Hero apart? Can the watchmen overcome their incompetence to bring out the truth?

Directed by Trevor Dale