Piti Theatre Company was founded in 2004 by American playwright/actor Jonathan Mirin and Swiss choreographer, dancer and visual artist Godeliève Richard. We're based in Shelburne Falls, MA and Les Ponts-de-Martel, Switzerland. Piti (pronounced "PEA-tea") is an ancient Indian (Pali) word translatable as "joy" or "rapture." Piti programming plants seeds of joy, sustainability and justice in hearts, minds and communities. Piti's local programming in the U.S. is dedicated to engaging underserved rural communities across Franklin County.
We also facilitate a unique cultural and human connection between Switzerland and the U.S. by making shows in french and english and offering the possibility of artist/student exchange between the two countries.
Piti Theatre is based in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts This land where we create our work was and is home to the Pocumtuck people. The Connecticut River Valley, where Shelburne Falls is located, is actually a crossroads for many native nations including the Nipmuc and the Wampanoag to the East, the Nonotuck, Mohegan, Nonotuck and Pequot to the South, the Mohican to the West, and the Abenaki to the North. We are grateful for their stewardship of the land over the centuries. One of the many local groups to whom we are grateful for their ongoing educational work, celebrations and stewardship of the land is the Nolumbeka Project, You can learn more at nolumbekaproject.org
Awards & Nominations
2019: Suzy Polucci Food Justice Award (for To Bee or Not to Bee)
2015: Children's Theater Foundation of America Aurand Harris Fellowship (Jonathan Mirin)
2014: Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Ten Year Anniversary Certificate of Recognition
2014: Club Passim Iguana Fund Award for Piti's musical collaboration with Carrie Ferguson
2008: Independent Reviewers of New England Nomination - "Best Solo Performance"
2004: Independent Reviewers of New England Nomination - "Best Solo Performance"
Jonathan Mirin: Two Time Finalist, Actors Theatre of Louisville's Heidemann Award
Statement of Solidarity
Piti Theatre Company stands in solidarity with protesters around the world demanding systemic change in the wake of the murder of George Floyd while in police custody and the murder of many other black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) in their homes and communities over the last years, decades, and centuries. In the wake of the murder of eight people, six of them Asian-Americans and all but one of them women in Atlanta on March 16, 2021 we invite you to take action here.
As a white led small theatre company in a predominantly white county of Western Massachusetts, we commit and recommit to anti-racism work within our organization and within the communities we serve. While we feel we have made some progress in the right direction, we also understand we have much more work to do.
As an arts organization historically committed to environmental justice in terms of the content of our performances, we are acutely aware that this work begs the question, "environmental justice for who?" It is not possible to effectively address environmental degradation without simultaneously working to dismantle systemic racism and the ways in which environmental harm and the public health impacts which follow are disproportionately transferred to low income and communities of color.
In the 1970's Jonathan Mirin was busy getting beat up in a Boston suburb and Godeliève Richard was being sent to buy seven liters of milk to feed her six siblings in a Swiss village. In 1998, they began practicing Vipassana meditation, separately. In 2000, Jonathan had finished the run of his first two plays at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Having never been to Europe, he set out with a back-pack and an open-ended itinerary, only to make a fateful stop at the Vipassana Meditation Center in Switzerland where Godeliève was waiting for him . . . er, also volunteering. They didn't speak much, but Jonathan did manage to invite her to join him in India where he was headed via a rather circuitous three month overland route. This part of our story later became part of Piti Theatre's first production, Riding the Wave.com.
In 2003, they were married in their friend Forest's forest and in 2004 Riding the Wave.com premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival. In 2006, they moved to Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. Their first collaborative production "Elmer and the Elder Tree" began touring New England in 2008. Then . . .
2009: Ezekiel (a son, not a play)
2010: 28 FEET, a solo autobiographical comedy about growing up with Crohn's disease
2010: 1st Annual SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Arts Festival, Piti's annual festival celebrating spring, sap and the arts.
2012: "To Bee or Not to Bee" and "Etre ou ne pas être . . . une abeille", a play with music about honeybee disappearance premieres in the U.S. and Switzerland (Piti's first French language production)
2013: "Olde Coleraine", Piti's first "Your Town" production
2015: "Innocenzo" a play with music about a clown's environmental health challenges in the 21st century, premieres in the U.S. and Switzerland (second French production).
2017: First annual Great Greenfield DinoFest, co-produced with Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association
2018: "Sammy and Le Grand Buffet", French/English solo clown show produced in the U.S. and Switzerland
2020: Launch of Valley Playwright Mentoring teen program and Valley Arts Mentors with Holyoke Media and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County
2021: "Dexter and the Dinosaurs" film version premieres at the Great Greenfield DinoFest.
2022: "Canary in the Gold Mine" premieres at the Ko Festival of Performance (streaming production).
We have also created many "mini-productions", workshops and residencies for schools, organizations and festivals.