What's on

♫ Get the Blessing

Friday 22 March at 7.30pm
Doors open 7.00pm

  • Pete Judge trumpet
  • Jake McMurchie  saxophone
  • Jim Barr  bass
  • Clive Deamer  drums

In line with our policy here at Jazz in Reading to offer you a wide spectrum of the jazz scene – now for something completely different.

Formed in 1999 to share a fascination with the improvisation and monophonic nature of Ornette Coleman’s earlier works, Get The Blessing were “total outsiders” and “the punk entry” when they won the 2008 BBC Jazz Award for Best Album with ‘All Is Yes’. Over ten years later and five albums down the line, the same could still be said to hold true, albeit with a little more wisdom at their disposal. Their strategy is a jazz horn sound derived from Ornette Coleman’s unruly sax/trumpet harmonies, laid over the hooks and backbeats of rock, on occasions with laid back nonchalance and at others pounding rhythms, spacious atmospheres and strongly crafted melodies.

Twenty years from their formation and still with a creative cutting edge, Get The Blessing are internationally lauded and renowned for their live performances. Their albums attract excellent reviews and whilst Jake McMurchie has appeared for us at Progress a few years ago, this is the band’s debut for us and we look forward to an evening of original and invigorating music.

“The most original and exciting band on the British scene” – Jazzwise

“One of the most interesting bands around – and terrific live act” – Ian Mann, the Jazz Mann

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


One Million Tiny Plays About Reading

Joint Adult and Youth Theatre Production

One Million Tiny Plays About Reading

1 -6 April 2019, performances at 7.45pm

A Highdown schoolgirl gets her first crush in Forbury Gardens; two divers take their last leap at Central Swimming Pool; a conscientious MP visits a food bank in Tilehurst; tempers fray at the 99th Reading Scout Group AGM; and, after drowning his sorrows at the Jazz Bar, a Reading FC misses the bus home.

Inspired by Craig Taylor's brilliant state-of-the-nation play, One Million Tiny Plays About Britain, this new devised work showcases and celebrates the people of bustling, hotchpotch Reading in a series of well-crafted snapshots, designed to delight, provoke and amuse.

Note from the writer: Jack Taylor

One million plays is a lot. We didn’t manage that many. Instead, we hope the play captures one million aspects, attitudes and images of Reading. Most of the scenes emerged from the collective memory and imagination of the cast. They devised some brilliant moments and developed them into complex, poignant pieces of theatre. As the writer, I had an easy job.

We wanted to enrich the play with a very clear sense of place, not just of Reading, but the landmarks and institutions that fill it. For many, Reading is characterised by its physical imagery – the Forbury Lion, the Royal Berks, Smelly Alley, Central Swimming Pool. We tried to populate these locations with life and motion and to stage the dramas and conversations which they inspire. 


  • Layla Al-Sadie
  • Ali Carroll
  • Dylan Collie
  • Juliet England
  • Melissa Evans-Prosser
  • Cora Jamieson
  • Jude Lancaster
  • Katie Moreton
  • Flora Paulo
  • Liz Paulo
  • Rex Rayner
  • Gregor Singleton-White
  • Adam Slack
  • Lynne Wielogorska
  • Luciano 
  • Hemel 

Directed by Rhys Lawton and Rachel Taylor.

♫ Henry Lowther’s Still Waters

Friday 12 April 2019 at 7.30pm

Henry Lowther

  • Henry Lowther  trumpet & flugelhorn
  • Pete Hurt  tenor saxophone
  • Barry Green  piano
  • Dave Green  bass
  • Paul Clarvis  drums

Still Waters was born out of a long association and friendship going back over forty years between two of Britain’s most accomplished, respected and much-loved musicians; Henry Lowther and Dave Green. They both felt that the time had arrived to play music of their own choice within a group of some of the finest jazz musicians working in Britain today. As a result, Still Waters is one of the most creative bands around.

Although a classic quintet of two front-line instruments and rhythm, Still Waters play music of radical and original invention, ranging from gently melodic and quietly pastoral pieces that reflect the band’s name, to dynamic free improvisation.

‘I am immensely proud of the band,’ writes Henry Lowther. ‘It’s not just a collection of musicians, but a BAND. In other words, the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The level of creativity, adventure and interplay on gigs never ceases to astonish me; no two gigs are ever the same and this is truer of Still Waters than any band I’ve ever played with.

‘Dave Green is without doubt the foundation of Still Waters. He has a way of finding the right thing to do at exactly the right time, Whatever else goes on around him he always keeps it right there, allowing everybody maximum freedom.

‘Paul Clarvis is the most idiosyncratic and creative drummer in British jazz, who, together with Barry Green’s ability to move from straight playing to free improvisation, makes the rhythm section an absolute joy. I love its ability to go anywhere it chooses to go.

‘My partner on the front-line, Pete Hurt, is not only a wonderful and inventive saxophone player, but also an all-round accomplished master musician and one of Britain’s very greatest composers of music for big band.’

The Guardian awarded Henry Lowther’s Still Waters 4 out of 5 stars in its review of Can’t Believe, Won’t Believe (Village Life 171013VL) on its release in May of this year:

‘If I wanted to convert a reluctant listener to modern jazz, I’d happily present them with this … you can just relax to the unfolding melodies and catch the subtle interplay of harmonies and rhythm. The surface may be calm, but there’s a wealth of animation beneath. The more you listen, the more you find.’

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

Progress Premieres 2019


Progress Premieres 2019

1-4 May 2019, performances at 7.45pm

Two original plays get their premiere on the Progress stage.

Equivocators by Dan Clarke 

Set during the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, William Shakespeare arrives at the home of Ben Jonson in search of the missing pages of the Scottish play he is writing.

Peter's Wife by Christine Moran

Michelle is desperate to have a baby. Julie is desperate to keep her marriage together. And Anna? She's just desperate.

Three couples. Two siblings. One affair. Six lives changed forever.


Top Girls

by Caryl Churchill

Top Girls banner

3 - 8 June 2019, performances at 7.45pm

(Includes Saturday Matinee on 8 June 2019 at 2.30pm)

Marlene is a succesful businesswoman, but what has her promotion cost her? 

Caryl Churchill's play addresses the themes of the 1980s, using famous women of the past to examine the choices women need to make to succeed in a man's world.


Directed by Beckie Moir.

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




When They Go Low

By Natalie Mitchell 
Presented by Progress Youth Theatre 

2-6 July 2019

Progress Youth Theatre bring When They Go Low by Natalie Mitchell to the Progress Stage. It has been selected from the 2019 National Theatre Connections portfolio.

Social media is in a frenzy over pictures of Sarah at a party on the weekend – no one knows quite what she got up to. When Miss Reef lectures the girls on taking more responsibility for their actions, Louise becomes enraged that the boys who took the pictures aren’t made accountable too. She wages war on the misogyny but when she threatens school stalwart Scott and his claim to the School Captain title, things get very nasty. A website appears, rating the girls on their appearance and shaming them for their actions.

When They Go Low is about everyday feminism and the changing face of teenage sexuality in an online world. When they go low, we go high.


Past events


Past shows at Progress Theatre - Past Seasons





  • Wolves - December
  • 11th Annual WriteFest - November
  • Dracula - October  
  • The Long and the  Short and the Tall - September
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream - July - Caversham Court Gardens
  • Daisy Pulls it Off - July - Progress Youth Theatre
  • Humble Boy - June
  • Suddenly Last Summer - May
  • Stones In His Pockets -  April
  • Marat/Sade - March
  • Steel Magnolias - February
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - January


    • The Hidden Truth - December - Progress Youth Theatre
    • Brontë - November
    • The 10th Annual Writefest - October
    • Two-Way Mirror - September
    • The Merry Wives of Windsor - July - at Caversham Court Gardens 
    • Gormenghast - July - Progress Youth Theatre
    • The Weir - June
    • Talking Heads - April
    • Animal Farm - March
    • Gaslight - February
    • The Three Musketeers - January


    • Mojo - December - Progress Youth Theatre
    • Noises Off - November
    • The 9th Annual WriteFest - October
    • Darwin and Fitzroy - September
    • Love's Labour's Lost… And Won - July - at Caversham Court Gardens 
    • The Roses of Eyam - July - Progress Youth Theatre
    • God of Carnage - June
    • Not About Heroes - May
    • Lady Windermere's Fan - April
    • Trainspotting - March
    • Bold Girls - February
    • The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - January


    Past Seasons...

    A Doll's House

    by Henrik Ibsen

    Adapted by Samuel Adamson

    A Doll's House

    11-16 March 2019, performances at 7.45pm

    (Includes Saturday Matinee on 16 March 2019 at 2.30pm)

    Nora Helmer has it all: two beautiful children, a lovely home, and a loving husband. However, her idyllic life begins to unravel when an old associate reminds her of the fraudulent contract she made with him years ago.

    This classic play finds Nora on a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment that still resonates today.


    • Nora Helmer  - Tara O'Connor
    • Torvald Helmer - Chris Pett
    • Kristine Linde - Iuliana Tiu
    • Nils Krogstad - Paul Gallantry
    • Dr. Rank - Mikhail Franklin
    • Anne-Marie - Michelle Yvonne Appleby

    Directed by Adrian Tang


    “Go see Tara O’Connor lead Progress Theatre in a strong production of a story of a woman finding her strength ..” - Explore Reading

    “ .. a lovingly crafted production by Adrian Tang ... This is compelling theatre, don’t miss it.” - The Whitley Pump

    “Progress Theatre should be applauded for shining a light on this subject [gender politics] (especially so close to International Women’s Day) ...” - The Wokingham Paper

    “This well-paced production should please and engage the audience, but it will also provoke viewers to consider power struggles within relationships and within wider society.” - Henley Standard

    “ ... there is a clear vision: an assertive directorial stance from director-producer Adrian Tang, and some bold choices by leading player Tara O’Connor, as Nora.” - The Play’s The Thing

     "...all-round great performance, of the lead, Tara O’Connor. An emotionally complex character, Nora is hard to nail, but she did an excellent job of bringing the young woman, in all her struggles and uncertainty, to life." - The Spark

    An interview with director Adrian Tang was also published by The Spark.

    A Doll’s House


    This amateur production of “A Doll's House (Adamson)” is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH LTD.