PLAINS SPEAKING: The Portsmouth Raid in Fact & Fiction


At Pontine Theater, Plains School

PLAINS SPEAKING: The Portsmouth Raid in Fact & Fiction

October 15 - 17 Live Presentation / October 24 Online Zoom Presentation


Pontine Theatre presents the premiere of Plains Speaking: The Portsmouth Raid in Fact and Fiction, a video production exploring the history and legacy of the raid that occurred on the Portsmouth Plains on June 26, 1696. The video was researched, written and presented by Consulting Curator, Nina Maurer.  


Pontine’s present home at the 1845 Plains Schoolhouse is located on the site of the raid. Our community’s longstanding interest in place-based history and historic preservation gave rise to the development of this video which examines this important and overlooked part of Portsmouth’s history.  

Presentations of the video with live commentary and discussion with Nina Maurer, will take place at Pontine’s 1845 Plains Schoolhouse theatre October 15 -17.  Due to COVID19 precatutions seating is extremely limited.  The following Sunday 24 October @2pm the presentation will be available online via the Zoom platform.  Tickets for the online presentations are available at Pontine’s website:  To be placed on a waiting list to attend one of the live presentations, contact Pontine Theatre via email  Live performances take place at the 1845 Plains Schoolhouse, #1 Plains Avenue, Portsmouth NH.   

A New Hampshire State Marker (#75), located at the Portsmouth Plains, reads, “In the pre-dawn hours of June 26, 1696, Indians attacked the settlement here. Fourteen persons were killed and others taken captive. Five houses and nine barns were burned.” In fact, there are scant historical records documenting the facts of this event and the veracity of accounts given in local sources, such as Brewster’s Rambles About Portsmouth (1859), has been challenged by local historians. Little progress has been made in understanding or to finding a context for this dramatic event,

Forgotten Frontiers, an exhibit, curated by Ms. Maurer, and mounted at the Counting House Museum in South Berwick, Maine, has provided scholarship that sheds light on the raid at the Portsmouth Plains.  That exhibit has articulated a meaningful connection among a series of attacks that took place here in the Piscataqua region in the late 17th century, including the Cocheco Massacre at Dover Point (1689); the Salmon Falls Raid at South Berwick (1690); and attacks at Sandy Beach (1691), York (1692), Oyster River (1694) and Portsmouth Plains (1696). 

Tracing historical forces in operation at that time reveals motivations and circumstances that fueled an increase in aggression and conflict between the Wabanaki people and the area’s colonial settlers. Plains Speaking, elucidates  the facts of the raid increasing public understanding of the cultural conflict underlying the raid. This program is designed to expand appreciation of the multiple viewpoints inherent in the conflict and to explore the legacy of colonial conflict for Seacoast residents today.

Pontine Theatre is supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.  Research for Plains Speaking was partially supported by a grant from New Hampshire Humanities.