About Us


Progress Theatre, The Mount, Reading, RG15HL

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 (NODA), 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. We recently upgraded our toilets and foyer with unisex cubicles, easy access to the new disabled toilet and an enlarged bar area. We are opening up our productions with relaxed performances, Come As You Are nights and socially distanced performances - learn more about inclusion and accessibility at Progress.
Progress is governed and maintained by volunteers. We have a thriving Youth Theatre, a digital theatre - Progress TV, Writers' GroupFriends 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 productions at Reading Abbey Ruins each summer.

Social Media

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Queen's Award badge

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.

Mission Statement

To create excellent theatre!

Key Objectives

  • 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

Core Values

  • 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

Kenneth Branagh as Cassius In Progress Theatre's 1970 production of Othello at Reading Abbey Ruins

Kenneth Branagh as Cassius in the 1978 production of Othello at Reading Abbey Ruins

Progress Theatre was established in 1946 by a young, enthusiastic, forward-looking group to present new and challenging theatre productions in Reading.

The first production, Whose Pigeon, 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 many other alterations and extensions over the years, productions are still staged in the same building. It now seats 97 people and includes a wheelchair space.

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.

Over the decades, Progress has mounted hundreds of productions at the Mount and in the Open Air at Reading Abbey Ruins and Caversham Court Gardens: see a history of our past productions. Our Open Air productions each summer have traditionally been Shakespeare plays, but we produced The Wind in the Willows at Caversham Court Gardens in 2017 and Great Expectations in Reading Abbey Ruins in 2022.

Sir Kenneth Branagh, who was a member of the theatre in the late 1970s, became Progress Theatre patron in 2011.