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Connecting Communities, People & Places with the Arts
Who We Are

Established in 2015, At the Root Theatre is a not for profit organisation that works with children, young people and adults living in West Lothian. We believe in creating opportunities for local people to participate in creative activities in their local areas.

We aim to amplify, celebrate and empower the voices of different communities, people and places through drama, film and music. We want to create spaces that build confidence, ambition, and develop creative and social skills for life. Our mission is to create positive, nurturing and happy spaces for children, young people and adults to have fun, make new friends and believe in themselves.

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Our Story
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At the Root Theatre was founded in 2015 as part of the community outreach programme at the Regal Community Theatre in Bathgate. After producing a successful community variety show in the theatre, Matthew Swan was approached by the artistic director to lead a youth theatre that would sit at the heart of Bathgate. 

A student at the time, Matthew approached some of his fellow DAPS (drama and performance students) and friends to see if they were up for the challenge. They all agreed, and got to work on the biggest challenge of their career so far. The team developed a programme of drama and music activities to be delivered in the Regal alongside some big ideas to connect with local schools on projects that celebrated different creative pathways. 

In September 2015 the first music and drama workshops went ahead and we welcomed ten dedicated participants who went onto to be with the company until they eventually left for university, college and, ultimately, adulthood. Over the next two years, the company grew in size and in ambition. We went from having ten participants to having forty, which for a wee youth theatre in Bathgate wasn't bad at all. 

Everything was going great until September 2017, when the Regal Community Theatre charity was sent into liquidation with staff losing jobs, shows being cancelled and we were threatened with the closure of everything we fought so hard for. However, with the support of participants, families, staff and different organisations, we were able to pull through and become our own individual organisation.

It was then that things started to really fly. Opportunities of working in partnership with different organisations, successful funding bids for dream projects and growth into different areas of West Lothian came into reality. Since 2017, we have taken our creative programme to every corner of West Lothian and now engage with 150 children and young people on a weekly basis. We have grown our arts in education strategy by connecting with several local primary and secondary schools through exciting projects.

The story is far from over. With plans to introduce At the Root Theatre in East Lothian and Mid Lothian, this is only the beginning for At the Root Theatre.

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Our Vision
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  • To empower children and young people through creating spaces that give them a voice and agency in their own creative process.

  • To celebrate and champion local people, stories and spaces by bringing drama to them and increasing geographic accessibility to the arts in West Lothian.

  • To nurture creativity in children and young people by facilitating positive and safe spaces for them to grow in confidence and self-belief.

  • To support young people who want to have a career in the creative industries by nurturing talent, developing skills and mentoring them as they take the first steps into the industry.

Our Mission

Our mission is to improve the offer of creative arts in West Lothian based on the interests and needs of different communities. 

Our aim as an organisation is to make sure that people living in West Lothian have access to creative activities for their children and young people on their doorstep. We believe that the smaller towns in West Lothian should have as much access as Livingston to these activities. 

Ultimately, our mission is to use drama to advocate and champion local people, stories and places.

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Find Out More
Meet the Team
Our Values
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"We have a role in advocating, celebrating and promoting the arts in local communities where there may not be lots of creative activity. It's about working together to make that happen."
-Matthew Swan, on the importance of geographical accessibility in West Lothian and working together with different organisations, groups and the community
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