What's on

♫ Martin Speake Quartet featuring Ethan Iverson

Fri 27 April 2018 at 7.30pm

Martin Speake Trio with Ethan Iverson

  • Martin Speake alto saxophone
  • Ethan Iverson piano
  • Fred Thomas double bass
  • James Maddren drums

Ethan Iverson, pianist with the game-changing US jazz outfit ‘The Bad Plus’, joins Martin Speake and his trio for this incredible evening of lyrical, subtle and inspiring jazz. Martin and Ethan met fifteen years ago while studying in Canada and since then have played and recorded together and separately with a stellar line-up of jazz luminaries. Their latest album together will be released in 2018 and compositions from it will be featured at this not-to-be-missed Progress gig.

Martin Speake studied classical saxophone at Trinity College of Music. He toured Europe, South America, Africa and the USA with Itchy Fingers appearing at major jazz festivals and playing on their first two CDs. In 1986 they won the Schlitz Young Jazz Musicians of the Year Award, which was televised by the BBC. In 1988, he left the group to develop his own projects, which have been many and diverse and established him as leading a composer and improviser. Martin is as comfortable playing personal interpretations of the music of Charlie Parker with his quartet, free improvising with drummer Mark Sanders, playing standard ballads in duet with Ethan Iverson and performing Indian music with Dharambir Singh and Sarvar Sabri. He has recorded 18 CDs including the internationally acclaimed ECM release Change Of Heart with Paul Motian, Bobo Stenson and Mick Hutton. Martin is a committed jazz educator and in addition to Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance he teaches at the Royal Academy of Music and the National Youth Jazz Collective Summer School.

Pianist Ethan Iverson is currently one-third of The Bad Plus, the game-changing US collective with Reid Anderson and David King. The New York Times called TBP ‘… Better than anyone at melding the sensibilities of post-60’s jazz and indie rock.’ TBP has performed in venues as diverse as the Village Vanguard, Carnegie Hall, and Bonnaroo; collaborated with Joshua Redman, Bill Frisell, and the Mark Morris Dance Group; and created a faithful arrangement of Stravinky’s The Rite of Spring and a radical reinvention of Ornette Coleman’s Science Fiction. In addition to TBP, Iverson participates in the critically-acclaimed Billy Hartquartet with Mark Turner and Ben Street and occasionally performs with an elder statesman like Albert ‘Tootie’ Heath or Ron Carter. Time Out New York selected Iverson as one of 25 essential New York jazz icons: ‘Perhaps NYC’s most thoughtful and passionate student of jazz tradition – the most admirable sort of artist-scholar.’ In 2018 Iverson will be premiering an original piano concerto with the American Composers Orchestra.

Fred Thomas, on double bass, is one of London’s most sought-after multi-instrumentalists and composer/arranger/producers. A member of the F-IRE Collective, he recently embarked on a trilogy of J S Bach recordings to be released on ECM, The Silent Howl and Odradek Records. Other projects include his Polyphonic Jazz Band, a quintet with Martin Speake that explores improvised counterpoint and a Richard Wagner tribute band with jazz pianist Liam Noble.
Thomas has appeared or collaborated with a wide variety of artists, including Jarvis Cocker, Basquiat Strings, Kadialy Kouyate, Jason Yarde, Julian Siegel, and Seb Rochford. He has toured worldwide with Filter Theatre and as musical director with Shakespeare’s Globe, as well as producing albums for many artists throughout Europe. His most recent compositions, for voice, string quartet and percussion, were commissioned by BitterSuite and Phaedra Ensemble and are being performed internationally and at the Royal Opera House, London.

Drummer James Maddren hails from Horsham, Sussex. In 2004 while still at school he travelled to London to study with one of Europe’s top multi-instrumentalists, Jim Hart, who Maddren cites as a significant early influence and inspiration. In 2005, he went on to study jazz percussion at the Royal Academy of Music with Martin France as his drum tutor. Graduating in 2009 with a 1st class degree, Maddren was also given ‘The Principal’s Award For Outstanding Studentship’. Currently one of London’s first-call young drummers, he excels at performing all kinds of music and has shared the stage with many artists and ensembles, including the Gwilym Simcock and Kit Downes Trio, the Marc Copland/Stan Sulzman Quartet, the Ivo Neame Group, Alex Garnett’s Bunch of Five and Phronesis.

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

Progress Bake-Off

Calling all bakers!

Progress Theatre will be hosting its very own Bake-Off on Saturday the 12th of May from 3-6pm. Get your tickets here.

This is the latest event in our fundraising initiative to improve the theatre's car park. Every penny raised will go to that initiative.

In true bake-off style, we will have three categories of bake. You can submit to one or all of them; the choice is up to you:

  1. Signature Bake: a flavoured bread (sweet or savoury) that reflects your personal tastes
  2. The Technical: 12 identical iced biscuits or cookies (we leave the theme up to you)
  3. Showstopper: a Drama-themed cake (go to town!)

Entrance is £10 whether you would like to be a contestant or just come to watch and sample all the bakes. Yum!

Bakers of all levels are most welcome, and the winners will get a prize. If you are intending to bake, please let us know which category/categories you will pick when you're buying the tickets.

Your judges are:

  • Laura Mariel Gonzalez from Nomad Bakery in Caversham, Reading
  • Sam from Samantha Alexander / The Flowering Teapot in Reading
  • Our very own baking fanatic Iona Rottmann from Progress Theatre

May the best bake win!

Progress Premieres 2018

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

Progress Premieres 201816-19 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

♫ Rebecca Poole Quintet

Fri 25 May 2018 at 7:30PM

Rebecca Poole

  • Rebecca Poole vocals
  • Brandon Allen tenor sax
  • Hugh Turner guitars
  • Raph Mizraki bass
  • Steve Wyndham drums

Following the release of her long-awaited debut album ‘Diamond in the Dust’, 2016 saw Rebecca Poole support Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra on his UK Tour – including appearances at the Royal Albert Hall, which gave rise to sensational reviews.

As a singer/songwriter, Rebecca creates alongside grammy award winning producer Andy Wright, famed for his records with Imelda May, Chrissie Hynde, Simple Minds and Simply Red.

Often referred to as pop noir, her distinctive sultry stylings and songwriting skills have led to collaborations with Jamiroquai’s Matt Johnson and Ian Barter (Amy Winehouse). Rebecca’s latest singles have been championed by Radio 2, BBC 6 music and BBC London.

Combining her own unique style with nuances of Nina Simone, Nancy Sinatra, Peggy Lee and Henry Mancini, Rebecca offers playful swagger with hugely entertaining onstage appeal.

With her popularity continuing to grow, Rebecca has performed to 90,000 people at Wembley, guested on The Royal Variety Show, performed with Jamie Cullum at BBC Radio 2’s Cheltenham Festival, played packed houses at London’s premier venues, Formula 1 events and The London Lifestyle Awards. Only recently Rebecca also performed as a guest singer on Richard Branson’s Necker Island opening for Lana Del Rey.

Fronting with Rebecca at the Progress Theatre we have Brandon Allen, described by Tony Hall of JazzWise as “arguably the most exciting tenor player in Britain today. His phrasing is unashamedly emotional, soaked in the blues tradition.”

Making up the rhythm section we have local guitar hero Hugh Turner, Jazz in Reading favourite and acoustic bass supremo Raph Mizraki and, swinging hard, drummer Steve Wyndam – who is also head of drums at Eton school, no less.

We anticipate a magical night!

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

Happy Jack

By John Godber

Happy Jack graphic11-16 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

Poetry of War3-7 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 – “The war to end all wars”.

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.


Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare

in the Open Air

11-21 July 2018

Enjoy an open-air production.of this great Shakespearean comedy - although with a touch of darkness.

Much Ado About Nothing follows the return of soldiers from war. Packed with intrigue, double-crossing and plenty of laughter, Much Ado About Nothing is the perfect introduction to Shakespeare. Following the turbulent romances between Hero and Claudio and Beatrice and Benedict, this exploration of what loyalty, chivalry, and true love really mean empowers us to challenge our perceptions of relationships.

Our production moves the story from Italy to an English house at the conclusion of World War Two. It will be using the story of the lovers to explore the nature of the relationship between men and women as well as exploring themes of jealousy and class.

Leonato welcomes his 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?


Benedict - Dan Clarke
Beatrice -  Kate Shaw
Hero - Taylor Rupp
Claudio - Matt Urwin
Peter - Matt Tully
Leonato - Paul Gallantry
Antonia - Emma Kellow
John - Ian Belcher
Conrade - Louise Banks
Borachio - Alex Hobbs
Dogberry - Mikhail Franklin
Verges - Juliet England
Seacole- Laura Barns
Oatcake - Heather Eley
Margaret - Rebecca Douglas
Ursula - Debora Rochfort
Rebecca - Francesca Alfano
Sexton - Simon White
Friar Francis - Adj Messelles
Messenger - Daniel Gladwel

Directed by Trevor Dale