“I started Sam Tower + Ensemble in order to create more space for female artists to lead, experiment, and develop performance alongside allies and supporters. We create 1-2 original works of performance each season that amplify the voices and experiences of women. Each new ST+E performance is built with a PROJECT-SPECIFIC ensemble of artists. It can take us 8 – 24 months to bring a new work to fruition in our home city of Philadelphia. Our extended development process promotes long-term creative percolation and artistic growth for the project ensemble.
Our feminism doesn't exclude anyone. Our projects are made by a variety of people with diverse perspectives, skills, and gender expressions. Our artistic experiments are rooted in co-authorship and collaborative thinking, and our productions always put artists in the driver’s seat of their own process.
The performances we make are crafted for mature audiences, young adults/teens, or recently, very young audiences. We believe people of every age deserve access to thoughtful and dazzling performance, and that must include the very youngest citizens. Our upcoming projects in 2018 begin with this goal at the center.”
- Sam Tower, Artistic Director
Sam Tower + Ensemble is a project-based platform for feminist dance theater in Philadelphia. We make wild moves and hypnotic sounds.
Our work straddles the genres of theatre and dance, utilizing movement, imagery, gesture, and music to create stories and experiences that are otherworldly and multi-sensory. Our performances are collaboratively authored - each project experimenting with narrative form and somatic dramaturgy in a new way.
Our devising process breaks down gender stereotypes on stage and behind the scenes. We actively reject misogynistic influences on our narrative choices and our artistic process. We choose to challenge patriarchal conventions in the following ways: we create shows that you can experience from many viewpoints, our rehearsal process evolves to reflect our ever-shifting needs as artists and citizens, we make opportunities for female, queer, and non-binary performers and designers to develop their craft through a supportive laboratory style process, we prioritize and amplify the voices of women and people of color in our process and in our stories.
The performances we make are almost always created for unconventional spaces, with an emphasis on installation elements that are site-specific. Notably, we have created dance theatre in industrial warehouses, basements, bars, art galleries, and converted factories in Philadelphia and Brooklyn, and inside a barn in rural Bass Harbor, Maine. Our work has been commissioned by FringeArts, and has been the recipient of residencies around Philadelphia.
Founded in 2014, ST+E is led by the vision and direction of physical theater maker Sam Tower. Past work for young adult and mature audiences includes Strange Tenants (Philly Fringe 2017), Particular Risk (Bryn Mawr College 2017), Nowhere Fast (BRAT Productions co-pro presented by FringeArts 2016), I’d rather choke than be a quitter (Plant Me Here co-pro 2016), 901 Nowhere Street (Philadelphia Fringe Festival 2015), The Travelers (2013), and The 5th Floor (2012). ST+E has collaborated with filmmaker/performer Tess Kunik to create surreal companion films; those works include The Road to Ermine’s (2015) and PINK NOISE (2016).
Alec MacLaughlin, Alyssandra Docherty, Andrew Thompson, Anna Szapiro, Aziz Naouai, Bi Jean Ngo, Caitlin Dagle, Eliana Fabiyi, Emilie Krause, Emma Arrick, Franny Mestrich, Hannah Van Sciver, James Haro, Jeremy Gable, Jess Conda, Joe Samala, Jonathan Colvson, Kate Raines, Katie Croyle, Kevin Meehan, Lauren Tuvell, Maiko Matsushima, Maya Neville, Merri Rashoyan, Nia Benjamin, Rachel Ishikawa, Robin Stamey, Sam Rosen, Sam Whalen, Susanne Collins, Terry Mittelma, Tess Kunik, Zack Kuzel
Theater Management and Development Professional
Current MBA Candidate, Chapman University