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.

I founded Pontine Theatre in 1978 after completing my 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. 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.

Pontine Theatre is based in Portsmouth NH, a city of 21,000 which serves as a cultural hub for many smaller, neighboring towns. The area is home to several cultural organizations. Pontine holds a unique place in the community's cultural scene as the sole producer and presenter of a repertoire comprised entirely of original and devised works featuring non-conventional staging techniques, (puppetry, toy theatre, mask, etc) with a strong emphasis on visual imagery.

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We collaborate with guest artists, whose work we admire, by presenting their work to our New Hampshire audience. Recently, we hosted Great Small Works in their festival production featuring performers from Germany and Mexico. We have hosted several performances by the North American Cultural Laboratory (NACL) and in 2015 traveled to their Highland Lake NY venue to perform our toy theatre adaptation of “The Hunting of the Snark.” Last season, for the third time, we hosted a weekend of performances by New York’s Concrete Temple Theatre in a collaborative project based on Longfellow’s epic story poem, “Evangeline.” We have hosted several performances by Bread & Puppet Theatre, Sandglass Theatre, and many artists associated with Maine's Celebration Barn Theatre, along with other artists who share our aesthetic. These opportunities to see and discuss mutual artistic endeavors informs our work and inspires the ongoing development of our artistic vision.

Over the past thirty-nine years, we have created three different performance spaces in Portsmouth. As the city has grown and prospered, spiraling rental costs have forced us to relocate. In 2017, in partnership with the city of Portsmouth, Pontine is renovating the city-owned Plains School, a one-room brick schoolhouse built in 1845. Having completed a $150,000 capital campaign, Pontine is now overseeing the school’s transformation into a studio theatre which will house Pontine's at-home activities. We will celebrate our 40th Season in residence at the Plains School.

Pontine Theatre 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, town libraries and senior centers to share our work.

Pontine Theatre's contribution to the statewide cultural landscape has been acknowledged by my appointment by the Governor to two terms as New Hampshire Artist Laureate, and the presentation of the Lotte Jacobi Living Treasure Award in 2013.

Marguerite Mathews, Founder & Co-Artistic Director

© Pontine Theatre  2018