Pontine Theatre (Portsmouth, NH)

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  Female textile worker in work clothes and apron next to small scale cut-out men and women in a small-scale house<br />

Marguerite Mathews in the Pontine Theatre's production of Dearly Earned, an original play based on the lives of 19thcentury New England textile workers. Photo by Andrew Edgar

The Pontine Theatre in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, founded in 1977, uses movement and other theatrical traditions, such as masks and puppetry, to perform startling and original contemporary works. Both a resident theater and a touring company, Pontine presents a diverse range of works -- including unique stagings, adaptations, and original works -- to more than 5,000 children and adults annually. The theater company also offers education programs, such as theater arts workshops and special performances at schools.

In FY 2005, the Pontine Theatre received an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $8,000 to support its 2005/06 Touring Program, which provided artistic and educational programs for the general public, schools, and universities throughout New England. Many of the touring works explored and celebrated the history and literature of New England. The theater company traveled to 17 cities in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine from August 2005 through June 2006, providing performances, master classes, and workshops. Approximately 2,500 people were reached on the tour.

Pontine's Touring Program offered an eclectic selection of works, including a unique adaptation of Thornton Wilder's classic portrait of small-town New Hampshire life, Our Town featuring a cast of Bunraku-style puppets; Cornish Castles, an original play based on the life and works of New England illustrator Maxfield Parrish; The Country of the Pointed Firs, based on Sarah Orne Jewett's portrait of 19th-century maritime Maine; Dearly Earned, an original play based on the lives and experiences of 19th-century New England textile workers; Home Is Heaven, based on 32 poems by Ogden Nash; and Silver Lake Summers, based on the life and work of poet e.e. cummings, specifically his connection to New Hampshire.

(From the NEA 2005 Annual Report)