Drawing on the traditions of Etienne Decroux, Francois Delsarte, Jacques Copeau, and Edward Gordon Craig, Pontine Theatre creates original works that renew, cultivate and inspire audiences throughout New England and beyond.
Pontine Theatre was founded in 1978 after Co-Director, Marguerite Mathews, returned to Portsmouth NH after pursuing studies with Etienne Decroux at his L'Ecole du Mime Corporeal in Paris and with his protege, Thomas Leabhart, at the University of Arkansas and at the Valley Studio in Spring Green WI. Since its inception, Pontine has created over fifty original works that have been presented in hundreds of communities throughout New England. Pontine performs in non-traditional spaces such as community centers, historical societies, senior centers, art galleries, libraries and museums.
In 1982, Greg Gathers, a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art, joined the company. Mr. Gathers has been designing and constructing Pontine’s sets, puppets, masks, projected images, toy theatre figures, and costumes since that time. In 1984, we became co-directors of the company and began collaborating on the development and performance of Pontine’s productions. Pontine is a two-member ensemble.
We collaborate with other companies whose work we esteem. We present their work to our Portsmouth audience and bring our work to their audiences. Recently we have worked with Great Small Works, hosting performers from Germany and Mexico featured in their "International Toy Theatre Festival," and performing our Murder at Smuttynose at their festival in Brooklyn. We have hosted several performances by the North American Cultural Laboratory (NACL) and last year traveled to their Highland Lake NY venue to perform our adaptation of The Hunting of the Snark. This year, for the third time, we hosted a weekend of performances by Concrete Temple Theatre and next season will travel to NYC to perform with them. We have also hosted performances by Bread & Puppet Theatre, Sandglass Theatre, Independent Eye, and many artists associated with Maine's Celebration Barn Theatre, along with many other companies with a shared artistic aesthetic. The opportunity to see and discuss our mutual artistic endeavors informs our work and inspires the ongoing development of our artistic vision.
Over the course of four decades, we have created three different performance spaces in Portsmouth. Currently, we are working with the city of Portsmouth transform a one-room 1845 schoolhouse into a studio theatre which will house Pontine's at-home activities. In addition, we will continue to share space with other area artists.
Pontine has traveled to hundreds of locations throughout New England, presenting performances, workshops, and residency programs in largely rural communities. Our touring programs are designed specifically for the non-traditional spaces available in the areas we serve. Our intimately-scaled productions are a perfect fit for the small town audiences that gather in church basements, community centers, town halls, historical societies, and senior centers to share our work.
Pontine's contribution to the statewide cultural landscape has been acknowledged by Ms. Mathews’ appointment by the Governor to two terms as New Hampshire Artist Laureate, and the presentation of the Lotte Jacobi Living Treasure Award in 2013.