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What is Well Read?

We run on Wednesdays at 11:15, meeting in the Playground Theatre Café on Latimer Road.

The premise is simple – we meet to read plays and talk about them. Every session is run by a professional actor, director, or writer, who also specialises in running community groups. The facilitator introduces service users to each other, to the play, and hands out parts fairly as we read, ensuring that everyone who wants to read gets the chance to and facilitating those that don’t. There’s no pressure to read at our groups and members are welcome to listen. Service users come and go as they need to and access for all is prioritised. We often find that confidence grows throughout a session… by the end, everybody wants a go!

By participating once in Well Read, you become a member of our ‘Well Read Community’, entitling you to one free coffee, discounted tickets and ongoing discounts on food, all at our quiet, welcoming and warm, theatre café. We have space to work, plays to read and comfy cushions! Half of the Playground Theatre’s work is charitable work, based in our local community.

  • History
  • Well Read. Well Written. Well Played
  • What Plays?
  • Our Facilitators
  • Our Financial Partners
‘Well Read’ started four years ago at St Charles mental Health Unit – The sessions were hugely popular - participants continually explaining that our sessions were a brilliant way to meet, have fun, and discuss ideas and themes without feeling the stress of making it personal. We have heard countless times how it can be a relief to see things through someone else’s eyes, have a break from one’s own thoughts and that our groups relive isolation and build confidence. Funded by our kind partners, we took this service into the community of RBKC, North and South, partnering with many local institutions and services. When we entered lock down, the need for ‘Well Read’ was even greater, so we launched our online service, which is still thriving! Our participants can access us from across the borough… even across the world on occasion! If this service suits your access needs better please do get in touch. Since returning to face-to-face sessions, the service has gone from strength to strength, finally settled back in our own Theatre Café in our weekly sessions. We even have a separately funded group running in Northern Ireland. We’re always looking for ways to broaden our partnerships and community work. We would love to bring Well Written, our creative writing service, Well Read, our play reading service and Well Played, our performance program for young people to your community. If you would like to get in touch with Well Read NI do give us a shout.
Our artistic well-being community projects come under our ‘WELL’ banner. Community and well-being services are vast and varied at the Playground, indeed, half of our work is charitable community work in our local area. Amongst many other things we have: Hosted the ‘Grenfell Survivors’ group, screening and celebrating their film making, housed KAA’s drama department during their refurb, run a free summer school and after-school drama club for local young people, as well as specialist creative writing courses, as part of ‘Well Played’ ‘Well Written’ and ‘WR1624’ and finally, we continue to run our flagship well-being service ‘Well Read’, an ever-growing collective of local people, who read plays and socialise together, in our theatre café, every Wednesday at 1115, entitled to discounted tickets, coffees, and food.

‘Well Read’ is free to any resident of RBKC, and is currently supported by The Playground Theatre, the Social Council, Community Living Well and the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation. 
What plays do we read?

The plays we read vary enormously – from modern comedy to Greek tragedy to American classics Shakespeare to modern work by local writers… we always want to choose material that people will enjoy and find accessible. We are very conscious of triggering themes and are careful and considered in our selections. That said, we try to select interesting, progressive texts, which stimulate conversation and fun. Silly accents and acting are not required but always welcome!

Play reading schedule

Summer Season
American Classics

Arthur Miller – All My Sons
Tennessee Williams – Streetcar Named Desire

Autumn Season
European Classics

JB Priestly ‘An Inspector Calls’
Anton Chekov ‘Three Sisters’

Winter Season
Festive fun

Dickens – ‘A Christmas Carol’
Michael Frayn ‘Noises Off’ 
  • Phil
  • Phil is an actor, director, writer, and facilitator.
  • As an actor he has worked across Stage, TV, Film, Radio & Video games. Phil has written and had four plays produced professionally and has adapted others. He has adapted and directed plays by Shakespeare, Kirkwood, Churchill & Fo, among others, as well as his own work, and enjoyably countless community workshops, education projects and play readings. His passion is working in the arts in the community. Having worked briefly in prisons in Yorkshire, his dream job is as writer in residence at a prison. He would love to bring Well Read to the prison service. Phil has worked extensively in theatre in schools and hospitals and has experience constructing education projects, delivering workshops and sessions on a range of texts and to all ages, as well as applying for funding and administrating services.
  • Jess
  • Jess is an actor, musician, writer and facilitator.
  • Jess has worked as an actor across all disciplines, including featuring on Netflix in Young Wallander and at Shakespeare’s Globe as Desdemona.
  • Jess’s first play, about Elizabeth 1st, was developed at the Bush Theatre. Jess currently has an EP out ‘Dandelion’ (available on Spotify amongst others).
  • Jess loves working with young people and is an experienced workshop leader.
  • Jess is part of the Playground’s ‘Well Read’ team, working in North Kensington’s Community, she loves ‘Well Read’ and looks forward to meeting you on a Wednesday at the Theatre Cafe.
  • Phil says:
  • Well Read is a brilliant service. It is deceptively simple. It is constantly surprising just how it affects people. The basic act of reading drama aloud in a small, safe, welcoming group, brings laughter, confidence, and thought-provoking chat. I love when service users respond to the twists and turns of a plot, previously unfamiliar to them. I love when an initially shy service users says: ‘I won’t be reading’, which of course, is respected, but by the end of the session, just an hour later, that same service user is asking to play certain parts, keen to have a go. There have been many friendships formed at our sessions, service users helping each other access sessions, or finding they are neighbours. Discussions spring up from the unlikeliest of places… The healing power of mushrooms, while reading Peter Whelan’s ‘The Herbal Bed’, in the LW Tea Garden; a fiery political exchange, touching on Iraq, reading Agamemnon, after the last general election, at SMART, or speaking about home, and female rights in the tranquil garden of Grenfel Health and Well-Being... while eating amazing home-grown apricots. We have such great diversity at our sessions, a retired ex-actor might play Blanche DuBois from Streetcar opposite someone new to this country and language’s Stanley, those impaired physically or who have extra needs are entirely equal within the straightforward world of reading character. Oppressive barriers that have arisen in our society: Gender, sexuality, class, race and disability, are often more easily negotiated through stories and the uncomplicated act of reading aloud with others. Stripped from the pressure-laden, exam fuelled, environs of school, reading drama for pleasure is liberating... and unusual. It’s not often that we, everyday people, experience theatre, and yet we all depend on it! Drama has been a mainstay of all human culture for millennia. We consume Netflix, Line of Duty, EastEnders, Box sets, Musicals, Disney, Plays and Panto with ever-growing enthusiasm. Speaking aloud has never been more prized in business; video conferencing, social media content, increased understanding of mental health and the demands of face-to-face delivery are all prized assets across varied disciplines, from Doctor to Director of Finance, from care worker to child minder. The seemingly simple act or sharing drama aloud, taking turns to play different parts, no matter the character’s age, gender, race and sexuality is freeing and fun.


Formed in April 2002 we are the result of a merger of the Chelsea and Notting Hill Social Councils. The former was established in 1968 to meet local needs in areas that now make up the south of the borough, while the latter was founded in the late 1950's in the aftermath of the social disturbances in the area.

We offer a range of services that help us support health, voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) and Residents in the borough. This includes access to training and funding, advice and information, as well as facilitating the voice of the local voluntary and community sector, building and supporting community led action, as well as representing the sector at a strategic level. We also offer a number of schemes and initiatives including volunteering
The Kensington and Chelsea Foundation


In a borough usually associated with affluence and wealth, there are also areas of severe deprivation. We identify and support projects which improve the lives and life chances of disadvantaged and vulnerable people in our community
Well Read in the community

Our service moves! We can come to you! We can provide Well Read free to every resident of RBKC. If you are interested in us starting a group within your community, please get in touch. We are currently partnered with VCKC, and have previously partnered with; Minds United, Age UK, Rugby Portabello Trust, Dalgarno Estate, LWRA, SMART, ADKC, Grenfell health and Wellbeing, Chamberlain House and many more.
Quotes from our service users:

‘This group was a new experience for me and after it finished I felt like I was on fire!!'

"Some days are difficult, the initial getting out is hard, but I always feel better after the session leaving with a sense of achievement. The Play-reading has been really useful. Reading out loud has helped my self-confidence"

‘The only reason I came out today was your group’

‘Well Read is a productive framework for interaction without the pressure of having to connect directly, focussing instead on the characters.’

‘I felt really happy having read and being surprised by one’s own confidence also improved my mood because of the whole group has something in common and something to laugh about’.

'This is exactly the sort of thing I was looking for!' ‘While we are still stuck in our homes, it feels as though we have been out and enjoyed the company of others for a while’

'I look forward to it so much, it adds structure to my week'
For more information about the venue and our COVID-19 Health and Safety policy, please see our your-visit page.

Contact Us

 020 8960 0110


The Playground Theatre
Latimer Rd London W10 6RQ

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