Ninth Planet’s work is comprised of three pillars: Artistic Productions, Community Engagement, and Skill Building. This company meets an important need for its founding artists, frequent collaborators, and community members. We all required an artistic space where the voices and needs of poc/queer/trans/women would be centered and supported. Artistically, we needed space to experiment, to educate ourselves, to learn, and to fail openly. We didn't have access to these freedoms anywhere else in Philadelphia, and when working professionally, we often found ourselves in service of primarily white institutions run by men where we were consistently othered or left in the margins. Ninth Planet is a place for us to create new performances from scratch, to use creative practices to build stronger and more connected communities, and to support young people through engagement with performing arts.
The artists of Ninth Planet began working together across multiple projects produced under the moniker of Sam Tower + Ensemble, including the critically acclaimed 901 Nowhere Street in the 2015 Philadelphia Fringe Festival, Nowhere Fast, a cabaret created with BRAT productions in 2016, and Particular Risk at Bryn Mawr College in 2017 and Strange Tenants, a dance theatre psycho-thriller in the 2017 Fringe Festival. We rebranded our collective as Ninth Planet in 2018, the same year that we premiered Homeworld, a performance installation for babies and their caregivers, at Painted Bride Art Center.
Ninth Planet devises each new piece of performance with an ensemble of artists brought together specifically because of their connection to the material or their skills and experiences. Our teams of performers, writers, composers and designers work collaboratively to develop ideas, material, and worlds, under the overall direction of Ninth Planet's Co-Artistic Directors, Nia Benjamin and Sam Tower. We frequently work individual artists across projects and community engagement programs, which allows us to build shared languages and practices. Ninth Planet is operated by a Core Admin Team, including Co-Artistic Directors Nia Benjamin and Sam Tower and Artistic Associate Franny Mestrich. Katie Croyle is the company's Creative Advisor, and Jeremy Gable is a Co-Founding Member.
photos by Kate Raines and Kenzi Crash