Reading Cultural Awards 2017

Nominations for this year’s Reading Cultural Awards include many events reviewed by the Whitley Pump, as well as several venues in Katesgrove, Redlands or Whitley. Winners will be announced on 29 June at a ceremony at the Olympia Ballroom on London Street, Katesgrove.

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Murder, Margaret and Me at the Progress Theatre

By Gillie Tunley.

The author Philip Meeks has had a lifelong obsession with Agatha Christie and was inspired by the idea of turning Agatha Christie sleuth to uncover Margaret Rutherford’s dark secret. His sensitive and witty script is laced with intrigue and delightful humour.

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Birds and swastikas at the Progress Theatre

The Progress Theatre’s Premieres comprises two one-act plays by local writers. The Writer Bird by Emily Goode is a comic, absurdist description of the creative process and The Swastika Party by Paul Levy is a more conventional story about how four young women deal with war and hatred.

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His Dark Materials (part two) at the Progress Theatre

By Brenda Sandilands.

We mentioned the considerable challenge posed by the Progress Theatre’s decision to stage this play in our review of His Dark Materials part one; the huge cast and the variety of technical skills required to create the versatile set, costumes, props and puppetry, to name a few. The Progress Theatre has met and conquered these challenges by creating a fast-moving and enchanting theatre experience that will stay with you long after we leave Lyra and Will in Oxford.

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His Dark Materials (part one) at the Progress Theatre

Staging this play presents an amazing challenge for the Progress Theatre. They have to create over 130 characters with 28 actors, create two major battles and many smaller skirmishes, represent 43 locations on a small stage, costume the 130 characters and create puppetry for the daemons (a physical embodiment of a human soul).

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Reading University Gospel Choir thrill Palmer Academy students

Reading University Gospel Choir

Children from the Palmer Academy on Northumberland Avenue have been regularly attending lunchtime concerts at Reading University over the last year. It’s clear that the children enjoy these concerts, and after a year of being exposed to a wide variety of music from a capella singing groups to string ensembles, it seemed sensible to get a child’s opinion for a change.

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Disco Pigs at Reading Rep

by Gillian Tunley


Reading Rep staged an intensely visceral performance of Enda Walsh’s Disco Pigs which left the audience emotionally stunned.  This high voltage two hander, directed by the acclaimed Cathal Cleary, features Runt and Pig (whose real names are the far more mundane Sinead and Darren)  running amok in a dangerous fantasy world, fuelled by cheap alcohol, raucous disco beat and trashy TV.

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A profoundly moving production of Ben-Hur

By Gillian Tunley.


Reading Rep staged an epic and powerful community production of Ben-Hur at The Hexagon last week, in a stage adaptation by the award winning playwright Hattie Naylor. It marked a spectacular opening to the Made in Reading season in the Reading Year of Culture. Over 70 local residents of all ages and backgrounds, playing characters encompassing all aspects of Roman society, joined forces with a small professional cast to thrill the audience with this timeless epic.

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