Playhouse Lab is a play-reading group at the School of English, University of Leeds. In term-time, we get together to read classical drama (especially plays from the English Renaissance) collectively in unrehearsed, improvised script-in-hand performances. Our aim is to get to know these plays from within, seeing how they work on stage.

We do not aim to produce finished, polished performances, but rather to explore the texts in an active way, getting to know their characters and dramatic situations through embodied reading. And it is also a lot of fun!


“The theatre company is made up of Shakespearean and Early Modern Drama academics (and the odd student or outside enthusiast). These scholars may spend their days elbow-deep in centuries-old folios and quartos, but their ambitious performance of King Lear on Wednesday evening was anything but dusty. Performed text-in-hand, this abridged version of the tragic tale of infirmity and filial love was ad hoc yet considered (and particularly well-enunciated).”
— Rebecca Harrison, review of King Lear for The Scribe

“What I love about the Playhouse Lab is that it’s a low stakes brilliant way of seeing that English isn’t just text on paper – it’s a living, breathing thing.”
— Aisha Habib Ahmad, Undergraduate student, School of English, University of Leeds

“I’m a huge fan of Playhouse Lab. It’s fun and collegial, and it’s introduced me to plays and playwrights I’d never come across before. I’ve found it so helpful for thinking about the early modern period and its literature, but it’s also great as a place to enjoy the spirit of play.”
— John Gallagher, Lecturer in Early Modern History, School of History, University of Leeds