High Noon
photo by Dante Napoli

Ninth Planet returns to the stage with a surreal meditation on the cowboy in the Philly Fringe, Sept 5-18

Ninth Planet will see their Fringe Festival debut with the premiere of high noon in the 2022 Philadelphia Fringe Festival. This ensemble-devised interdisciplinary performance is co-presented as part of Cannonball Festival, a Fringe Hub produced by Almanac Dance Circus Theatre.

After almost 3 years away from performing live, Ninth Planet comes back strong with a work created by an ensemble of interdisciplinary Black queer and trans* performance makers who are shaping the future of experimental theatre in Philadelphia.

Directed by Nia Benjamin, high noon is a speculative work of dance-theatre that takes on the Black experience by way of American cowboy mythology. Philadelphia musicians Sam Rise and Oliver Spencer create cyclical live sound using synthesizers, samples, loops, and acoustic folk music, while movement artists Vitche-Boul Ra and Kris Lee embody and upend cinematic Western tropes. Jordan Deal creates a panoramic video landscape across the barren white walls of the Icebox Project Space.

“I think as a company we are so fascinated by genre because of what it can teach us about the American subconscious, about American storytelling and myth making,” says Nia Benjamin, Ninth Planet co-artistic director and director of high noon. “The Western is the perfect genre for this task, as it gets to the root of who America sees as the hero (read: white, heterosexual, male, and trigger-happy). In high noon, our cowboy is no hero. Our cowboy is Black, queer, and disillusioned.”

Like all of Ninth Planet’s work, this project has been in development for several years, and has been shaped by the experiences and provocations of the ensemble. Nia’s direction for high noon is deeply personal and responsive; “For this team of Black artists and performers, the search for a second option feels like the only way to survive. I’m constantly searching for the second option. For the way past the greed and violence and back to truth. Throughout the process of creating high noon, we are charting a course through the cowboy into the potential for a second option through nature, through memory, through Black artistic and cultural tradition.”

high noon has been developed with support from Millay Arts (2021), Subcircle Residency (2021), and Headlong (2022). Funding for high noon has been provided by Philadelphia Cultural Foundation, Charlotte Cushman Foundation, The Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, Amalgamated Foundation, our Sustaining Monthly Donors, and a host of dedicated individual donors. Ninth Planet is proud to be a Headlong Incubated Artist.

Ninth Planet makes experimental theatre that centers people of color, women, queer and trans* people in Philadelphia. By making original work with and for these communities, we raise them up as prominent and valuable voices within and beyond the world of theatre. We see collaborative performance making as a liberatory practice, where we get to envision possibilities, rewrite violent narratives and claim space as historically marginalized people. Since our founding in 2018, we have shared our work with hundreds of families and young people through the Honey Honey Community Film Project, and Homeworld our performance installation for babies and their caregivers (with an accompanying Play Deck offering a series of at-home play activities for families with babies.)

Director: Nia Benjamin
Co-Creator/Performers: Kris Lee, Oliver Spencer, Vitche-Boul Ra, Sam Rise
Stage Manager: Jamel Baker
Video Designer: Jordan Deal
Set/Prop/Costume Designers: Nia Benjamin and Sam Tower
Lighting Designer: Mike Inwood *member USA 829
Sound Designer: Nat Merrill Associate
Director: Sam Tower
high noon was created collaboratively by the co-creator/performers and the creative team
high noon includes creative contributions from Noelle Diane Johnson; Katie Croyle; and Franny Mestrich; who participated in previous development workshops

Ninth Planet: HIGH NOON
Icebox Project Space, 1400 N. American St, Philadelphia, PA, 19122
Monday, September 5 – 9:15pm
Tuesday, September 6 – 9:15pm
Saturday, September 10 – 12pm
Tuesday, September 13 – 9:15pm
Wednesday, September 14 – 10pm
Friday, September 16 – 7:15pm
Sunday, September 18 – 12:30pm
TICKETS: $20 available online at https://fringearts.com/event/high-noon/all/

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