New Hampshire
Profile Type: Cultural Nonprofit
NEFA Grant Recipient
Cultural Nonprofit
Venue
Pontine Theatre

Since 1977, Pontine Theatre has been an active particpant in the development of actor-based theatre, creating work that is engaging, innovative and original. Pontine's work is founded on the concept that the actor should function as a creative (rather than interpretive) artist, and that the name actor dictates action (movement) as a primary tool. Co-Artistic Directors, M. Marguerite Mathews and Gregory Gathers, have produced over 50 original works. Creating and performing these works, Pontine has introduced their unique form of theatre to audiences throughout New England, transforming audience interest in mime, puppetry, literature, and history into enthusiasm for this distinctive synthesis of forms.

The word pontine is derived from the Latin pontus - a bridge. In psychology, pontine is a process, a connection activated in sleep; a bridge over which dream images travel.

We fulfill our artistic vision by creating and performing intimately scaled original productions that celebrate the culture, history and literature of New England. We use an ensemble process which is based on the actor-centered philosophy integral to our movement theatre background and training. We personally research our subject matter in creating our scripts. We use text drawn entirely from primary historical documents: diaries, letters, poetry, novels and newspaper articles of the day. We design and craft all of our sets, props, puppets, and masks. We strive, through this holistic approach, to achieve a unity of vision in our productions.

Each season we premiere an original production in Portsmouth NH. After the premiere, we bring these works to audiences throughout New England. We perform in small, nontraditional spaces including libraries, museums, schools, town halls, and residences for seniors and the disabled. Our "chamber-theatre" approach is an excellent fit for the small audiences served by these community-based venues, most of which are located in rural areas.

We often collaborate with community organizations with an interest in the topic of the production we are developing. These organizations frequently become advocates and presenters of our completed works. For instance, Isles of Shoals: Eternal Sound of the Sea, a play about an archipelago off the New Hampshire coast, was researched with the assistance of the Isles of Shoals Historical and Research Association (ISHRA). We collaborated with ISHRA and Star Island Corporation, which owns the last Victorian-era hotel on the islands, to bring a special performance out to the shoals.

The Story of a Bad Boy (based on the 1869 novel by Thomas Bailey Aldrich) was produced in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Aldrich Memorial, which is on the grounds of Portsmouth's Strawbery Banke Museum. We worked with museum staff to create an auxiliary community arts project commemorating the memorial's 1908 dedication which was presented at Strawbery Banke and toured to area senior centers.

We have also collaborated with the New Hampshire Humanities Council to create four humanities programs based on our original productions, Familiar Fields: The Power of Community in the Work of Sarah Orne Jewett, New England Utopia: Transcendental Communities, Pretty Halcyon Days: On the Beach with Ogden Nash, and Silver Lake Summers: An E. E. Cummings Revue.  These programs tour throughout New Hampshire through the NH Humanities Council's Humanities to Go program. 

We bring the ideas embodied in historical texts to life onstage through storytelling, puppetry, shadow play, projected images, toy theatre figures, and oversize storybooks.  As with text, we use historical sources for our visiual motifs: photos, illustrations and period art works--as well as historical staging conventions, including toy theatre, rolling panoramas and commedia dell'arte style masks.  We aspire, through our focus on original source materials, to engage our audiences in the richness of New England's culture and history.  Through the power and immediacy of live performance, we provide an intimate connection with our region's cultural heritage.

Find Me On …

I Have Worked With

  • September 2015

    Performances at NACL's Highland Lake, New York venue of Pontine's original stage adaptation of Lewis Carroll's THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK & OTHER NONSENSE 

  • December 2014

    Toy Theatre performances of Christmas Everyday by William Dean Howells as part of the museums annual Candlelight Stroll events. 

  • October 2014

    Original production based on Shaker conversion narrative with original music by the Enfield Shaker Singers.  Performed at the Enfield Village's Great Stone Meeting House.

     

  • NEFA Grantee
  • Cultural Nonprofit
  • Venue

Contact Information

First Name: 
Marguerite
Job Title/Position: 
Co-Artistic Director
Mailing Address: 
1 Plains Avenue
Portsmouth, NH 03801
Physical Address: 
1 Plains Avenue
Portsmouth, NH 03801
Last Name: 
Mathews
Phone: 
603-436-6660

About

Profile Type: 
Cultural Nonprofit
Primary Discipline: 
Theater - Devised / Artist-Led
Additional Disciplines: 
Theater - Puppet
Theater - Storytelling
Year Founded: 
1978
Populations Served: 
Adults
Elders
General Public
Institution/Business Type: 
Performing Groups
Activities and Services: 
Arts in Healthcare
Creation of a Work of Art (Including Commissions)
Performance / Concert / Reading
Residency - Community
Residency - Production / Development
Venue Rental
Workshops / Demonstrations / Master Class
Events Per Year: 
75
Seasons Active: 
Spring
Fall
Winter
Geographic Reach: 
Town / City
County
Multi-County Region
State
Multi-State Region

Affiliations and Accomplishments

Professional Associations: 
Network of Ensemble Theatres
Education: 
Ecole du Mime Corporeal / Etienne Decroux / Paris FR
B.A. Communications / Michigan State University
Awards: 
NH Governor's Lotte Jacobi Living Treasure Award
NH Artist Laureate
I am a NEFA Grant Recipient
I am on the following State Arts Agency Roster(s): 
New Hampshire Education Roster
New Hampshire Arts in Healthcare Roster

Accessibility of Services

Access accommodations for people who use a wheelchair and have limited mobility
Access accommodations for people who are Deaf and hard-of-hearing
Our Portsmouth theatre is handicap accessible. We are equiped with assisted listening devices and large print programs are available.

I am a Touring Artist

Fee Range Minimum: 
$250
Fee Range Maximum: 
$1,000
State of Residence: 
New Hampshire
Minimum Number of Performers: 
2
Maximum Number of Performers: 
2

Venue Available for Rent/Use

Venue Name: 
Plains School
Venue Type: 
Theater
Venue Address: 
1 Plains Avenue
Portsmouth, NH 03801
Venue Phone: 
603-436-6660
Stage Details: 
Black Box
Seasons Available: 
Spring
Winter
Fall
Venue Features: 
Climate control
Dance floor
Sound system
WiFi
Venue Capacity: 
40
Venue Fee Range Minimum: 
$400
Venue Fee Range Maximum: 
$400
Venue Accessibility: 
Access accommodations for people who are Deaf and hard-of-hearing
Facility is physically accessible (such as parking, entrances, accessible restrooms, seating, backstage)
Additional Comments: 
No crew available / 4-wall rentals only