Craft Theory at South Street

By Zoe Andrews.

Chaats Indian Street Food at the Craft Theory Festival, South Street

I missed out on the first Craft Theory festival at Katesgrove’s South Street Arts Centre last year, but I read the reviews with excitement and suffered a major case of FOMO [note 1]. I was in a unique position for the festival on 13 and 14 April this year; not only did I volunteer for Friday behind the jump [note 2], pouring drinks and loving it, but I also arrived bright-eyed on Saturday to spend the afternoon getting merry with my pals.

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‘Little Gem’ at the Progress Theatre

By Gillie Tunley and Brenda Sandilands.

Alison Hill as ‘Kay’ in ‘Little Gem’ at the Progress Theatre. Photo (c) Richard Brown.

The Progress Theatre are performing Elaine Murphy’s tenderly crafted Little Gem next week. Steph Dewar’s warmly funny and moving production, intimately staged, employs seamlessly interwoven monologues that are delivered by three generations of working-class Irish women.

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Melodic anxiety and tuneful paranoia with Harroland

I caught up with “Reading’s best new band” Harroland at their third ever gig, at Readipop in Milford Road in March, and they kindly granted me a very public interview in the car park. It was a freezing cold night, but I was ably assisted with questions by Whitley and Katesgrove aristocracy, music gurus Trevor Absolom and Michael Wyatt, as well as a very pleasant passer-by. When they become big and global in the years to come, you can boast about seeing Harroland early on at Reading venues.

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The John Madejski Academy triumphs at the Let’s Sing choral festival

by Matthew Farrall and Stephanie Chard.

JMA performing arts teacher Tommy Robinson accepting a Lets Sing 2018 award from Mayor Rose Williams at the Hexagon, Reading. Photo courtesy of Reading Borough Council.

Crisply compèred by Breeze FM‘s Robert Kenny, the Let’s Sing 2018 charity choir concert on Monday 26 March was of such a high standard that the trio of independent judges had a very difficult task indeed. Every choir received rapturous applause on merit from a lively audience.

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‘Mother Courage and her Children’ at the Progress Theatre

Mother Courage and her Children. From L: Taylor Rupp (Katrin), Rebecca Moir (Mother Courage), Lawrence Bird (young man), Jack Hygate (Swiss Cheese). (Photo: Richard Brown)

The Progress Theatre is performing Bertolt Brecht’s epic anti-war fable Mother Courage and her Children this week. It is a tale of the endurance, weakness, heroism and cowardice of ordinary people in a time of war.

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After Dark Club showcases Reading’s best new bands

By Matthew Farrall with Trevor Absolom and Matthew Davies

After Dark Bar

Last Saturday, the After Dark Club on London Street in Katesgrove hosted another live music night in league with the inspirational Musical Bear Records, with free entry if you turned up before 7.30. Three of the four bands were local and, once again, we were amazed at their quality and originality. The Reading music scene seems pretty vibrant and alive at the moment, not to mention cheap and accessible.

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Katesgrove talent shines on a rainy night in Basingstoke

Katesgrove based carry-on country band the Rumpo Kidz and the bard of Elgar Road Nigel Pounds crossed borders into Hampshire last Saturday to perform at the White Hart, a lovely big old boozer at the old end of Basingstoke town. After negotiating the consumer-Narnia of a shopping mall at the heart of the new Basingstoke, our redbrick troubadours traipsed through the heavy rain with all their gear on their backs.

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Children helping children concert rocks the Hex

Children helping children at the Reading Hexagon, February 2018

In a brilliant night at the Hexagon on Tuesday 6 February, talented children from Reading schools came together and put on a great show, Children Helping Children, in front of an audience of 600 or so. Introduced by John Cosgrove, the head teacher of Whitley’s Christ the King Primary School, this charity fund raiser and showcase of local youth talent got the toes tapping and the fingers clicking while tugging at hearts and minds too.

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Maskerade at the Progress Theatre

By Gillie Tunley and Brenda Sandilands.

Nanny Ogg (Liz Carroll) and Granny Weatherwax (Melanie Sherwood) in ‘Maskerade’. Photo (c) Aidan Moran

The Progress Theatre are staging the late-lamented Terry Pratchett‘s Maskerade this week, a Discworld play full of mystery, murder and musical mayhem. Chris Moran’s production fizzes with delicious lunacy – opera has never been such fun!

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Book Review – Parched City by Emma M Jones

Parched City‘ was an impulse buy from the Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) bookshop. The cover featuring the 1859 opening of London’s first public drinking fountain in the wall of St Sepulchre’s Church in the City of London was a magnet for this Whitley Pump correspondent.

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The Picture of Dorian Gray, at the Progress Theatre

By Gillie Tunley and Brenda Sandilands.

The Picture of Dorian Gray. Photo (c) Richard Brown

The Progress Youth Theatre staged a winning and witty production of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray at the Progress Theatre, Reading this week. It was skilfully adapted and slickly directed by Ali and Liz Carroll and engagingly performed by a mercurial cast of six, who slipped effortlessly between characters with the help of imaginative headwear and accessories, draped around the atmospheric set.

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