Dance theater show at the Fringe

Photo by Dante Napoli

Ninth Planet, an experimental theater company working out of Headlong Dance Theater in South Philly, will premiere its show High Noon at the Philly Fringe Festival on Sept. 5.

The 70-minute work of dance theater directed by Nia Benjamin will run through Sept. 18 at the Icebox Project Space, 1400 N. American St. in Northern Liberties. It marks the return to the live stage for Ninth Planet after nearly three years. 

The ensemble-devised interdisciplinary performance is co-presented as part of Cannonball Festival, a Fringe Hub produced by Almanac Dance Circus Theatre. 

High Noon is described as “an ensemble of interdisciplinary Black queer and trans performance makers who are shaping the future of experimental theatre in Philadelphia.”

“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,” said Benjamin, who doubles as 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. In High Noon, our cowboy is no hero. Our cowboy is Black, queer and disillusioned.”

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. 

The project has been in development for several years, and has been shaped by the experiences and provocations of the ensemble. 

“For this team of Black artists and performers, the search for a second option feels like the only way to survive,” Benjamin said. “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.”

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. For tickets, visit