About Us

horse_sunThe Root & Branch Theatre Company

was founded in 2006 by Actor Director Alison Williams-Bailey with performances of Story of The Wells, a play about local healing wells that was featured as part of the 400th Anniversary of the town of Tunbridge Wells in Kent.

Story of the Wells is one of a trilogy of plays about Alison’s native Wealden area of England. The Weald, known in olden times as “Anderida”, was an ancient forest that originally covered the present day five counties of Kent, East and West Sussex, Surrey and East Hampshire.

In 2007 a Network Fund grant gave the company its own Hooden Horses and Dragon Guisers (full body animal masks) with child size costume for workshops.

Local Aims, National Profile

Our production Dragon Tails (2009/2010) told the story of West Sussex local Dragonlore and Beowulf.  It toured nationally, including performances at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Community Festival at Stratford Upon Avon and for the Woodland Trust Activity week at Hargate Wood, Tunbridge Wells.  The latter was funded by Heritage Lottery as a part of the Weald Forest Ridge Partnership Scheme.

Growing a wild garden in the Garden of England

The name Root and Branch is derived from the image of a tree and all it’s possible meanings: of the family or tribal ancestral tree, of the trees of the Weald in which the project took place (is based), of the folk arts forms currently defined with the word “roots” music, song, dance, drama and as a map of the arteries of the root, leaves, branches of the tree itself which in our native tradition is known as the “Yggdrasil” (the World Tree in Norse mythology) and connects all universal worlds.

The core of this lies in the story-based culture of our ancestors and of indigenous people today. Alison lived, researched and worked amongst the Sami and learnt about their holistic “story” based culture where oral tradition is the main form of education.

The Root and Branch Theatre Company revives our ancestral stories, local legend, folklore and oral history of the folk or people in theatre form using folk drama, song, dance, physical, dance and street theatre, ritual, comedy and clowning. These are woven into a form of educational theatre and performed to schools and others in the community in the locality from whence these stories are derived.

Underlying this is a sense of the urgency to reconnect to the Mother Earth and Nature by living, breathing and dancing the story or song of the Earth and walking along those arteries or lines of the map which reconnect us to our roots, our ancestors and our places of origin. We aim to preserve and promote this knowledge and heritage for future generations who will inherit the current environmental global disaster.