Artistic Statement

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.  Since 1982, Pontine has been the recipient of over twenty-five NEA grant awards. 

I founded Pontine Theatre in 1978 after completing studies with 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.  Pontine has created over fifty original works presented in hundreds of New England communities. Pontine performs in non-traditional spaces:  senior centers, art galleries, libraries and museums, etc. 

In 1982, Greg Gathers, a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art, began designing and constructing Pontine’s sets, puppets, masks and costumes. In 1984, we became co-directors of the company and began collaborating on the development and performance of Pontine’s productions. 

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Pontine is a two-member ensemble.  As an actor-centered company we have consciously resisted institutionalizing the organization in order  to concentrate our resources on the evolution of our artistic vision and the development of new work. We nourish & revitalize our artistic vision through an ongoing association with a network of  fellow artists who inspire and inform our process. 

Pontine is based in Portsmouth NH, a city of 22,000. Pontine holds a unique place in the community's cultural scene as the sole creator and presenter of original and devised works featuring non-conventional staging techniques,(puppetry, toy theatre, mask, etc).  In 2017, in partnership with the City of Portsmouth, Pontine renovated the Plains School, an 1845 one-room brick schoolhouse. Pontine oversaw the school’s transformation into a studio theatre which now houses Pontine's at-home activities.  

We connect with guest artists whose work we admire by presenting their productions to our NH audience. We regularly host such companies as Great Small Works (NYC) and North American Cultural Laboratory / NACL (Highland Lake NY).  We have presented NYC’s Concrete Temple Theatre in a collaborative project based on Longfellow’s epic story poem, Evangeline. We have hosted performances by Bread & Puppet (Glover VT), Sandglass Theatre (Putney VT), Independent Eye (Sebastapol, CA)  and  Magical Moonshine (Vallejo CA)  The opportunity to see and discuss our mutual artistic endeavors informs our work and inspires the ongoing development of our artistic vision. 

Pontine has visited hundreds of New England towns bringing performances and workshops to small rural communities. Our touring programs are designed for the predominantly small non-traditional spaces available in the areas we serve. Our intimately-scaled chamber productions are an ideal fit for the small town audiences that gather in church basements, town halls, libraries and senior centers to share our work.  The intimate scale of our productions reflects our intentional aesthetic choice to intensify and magnify the theatrical power and artistic integrity of our work by concentrated attention to the details of each element that compose the whole.  

Marguerite Mathews, Founder & Co-Artistic Director

© Pontine Theatre  2023