Wig Wag

~60 min

Wig Wag is a hybrid music-theater piece, performed by a cast of four in collaboration with the entire audience. In Wig Wag, singing together transforms everyone present into one collective body, as we explore the tensions and pleasures found in the thick tangle of our interdependence.

Wig Wag is inspired by scientists, philosophers and artists like Anna Tsing, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Donna Haraway, Gary Snyder, Tyson Yunkaporta and Andreas Weber, who all insist there is no split between humans and the rest of nature, and no discrete boundary around the self. Each “self” is actually a network of relationships.

Creator Emily Bate uses communal singing to make that idea come alive in Wig Wag. Emily draws on her work as a composer, community songleader, and choir conductor to blend deeply accessible, participatory music with stunning vocal acrobatics performed by the cast.

It’s a show for people who love to sing, people who “can’t sing” and those for whom both apply. Wig Wag is about collectively experiencing the impact we have on each other, and singing our way through it. (Good and bad attitudes welcome.)


Emily Bate
Samantha Rise
Sally Louise Polk
Jackie Soro

Creative Team

Emily Bate, Lead Artist & Composer
Rebecca Wright, Director
Nic Labadie-Bartz, Stage Manager
Emily Schreiner, Producer
Rachael Cohen, Designer
Elizabeth Braden, Music Director
Dorie Byrne, Score Supervisor
Shannon Murphy, Choreographer
Patrick Costello, Graphic Design


Emily Bate (she/her) is a singer, composer and performer. She is the founder and conductor of Trust Your Moves, a 65-member queer community chorus in West Philly. She is a 2021 Pew Fellow, and her work has been supported by an Independence Foundation Fellowship, two Leeway Art & Change Awards, the MAP Fund, and more. Recent collaborations include: John Jarboe’s Rose: You Are Who You Eat, which premiered at the Guggenheim in 2022, and work with Pig Iron Theatre Company, Ragnar Kjartansson, and Third Side Records on a collection of songs by Beverly Glenn-Copeland. More at emilybate.com and @_emilybate_

Jackie Soro
(she/they) is a Philadelphia-based artist and performer. She works in collaboration with local artists and theater companies to create both original ensemble works and solo performances. Some recent projects: Emily Bate’s Wig Wag; 1812 Productions’ This Is the Week That Is; The Bearded Ladies Cabaret's Love Notes film & performance series; Team Sunshine's Your Optimism is Not Required; Ninth Planet Theater Company’s collaborative film project honey honey. Past projects: Killjoys Kastle: A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House (Icebox Project Space), The Bearded Ladies Cabaret‘s original musical Contradict This! A Birthday Funeral for Heroes (LaMama Experimental Theater), and The Arden Theater's Barrymore Award-winning production of Fun Home (Joan). Offstage, Jackie creates jewelry and fiber art under the moniker @glamatronix.

Sally Louise Polk
(she/they) is a fat activist, musician and mixed media artist currently based in Philly. She performs and tours as Thunder Thighs, a solo act that features loop pedal, electric guitar and violin. She also makes queer jewelry and plus size clothes under the name Fussy Louise.

Samantha Rise
(they/them) is a black, gender-expansive trans disciplinary performer, teaching artist and direct action facilitator based in Philadelphia. Samantha’s passion for music and community building are the heart of their work; a student of jazz, improvisation, social justice movements and the music that drives them, Samantha encourages a unique vulnerability with their audiences, reminding us all that music is our birthright, and a technology of healing, transformative justice and self-determination.

Sam Rise
is delighted to collaborate with The Bearded Ladies’ Cabaret, Ninth Planet, and various organizers  committed to supporting Liberatory Futures in Philly. Their debut musical release, Brighter Days, arrived in four installments over the solstice and equinox in 2019. Their music is available on Apple Music, Spotify, BandCamp and Soundcloud.

Nic Labadie-Bartz
(they/them) is a freelance stage manager based in Philadelphia. They are an associated artist with Applied Mechanics, and also  regularly work with The Bearded Ladies, Nichole Canuso Dance Company, and Theatre Exile.  They have also worked with Pig Iron Theatre Company, Headlong, Ninth Planet, New Paradise Laboratories, Orbiter 3, Cursed Church Theatre, Stephanie Blythe, MJ Kaufman, Mary Tuomanen, Annie Wilson, Michael Kiley, Suli Holum, and Martha Stuckey, among others.

Rebecca Wright
(she/her) is a director-creator, and founding company member of Applied Mechanics, with whom she has created twelve original immersive works, including the 26-person historical fantasia Vainglorious, the punk play with music We Are Bandits, and the multi-media epic This Is On Record. Other directing credits include Indecent, An Iliad, and the premiere of R. Eric Thomas’ Backing Track at the Arden; Perfect Day at Headlong, Metamorphosis, Saint Joan, and The Wild Duck at Quintessence Theater Group.  She has created work with Annie Wilson (At Home With the Humorless Bastard,) Cynthia Hopkins (Articles of Faith,) Orbiter 3 (Peaceable Kingdom,) Michael Kiley (Close Music for Bodies,) and The Riot Group (Sophie Gets the Horns.) Rebecca has worked with students at the University of the Arts, University of Minnesota, Arcadia University, Columbia University, and the University of Michigan.  She is co-founder and co-faciliatator of HATCH, a residency that supports female and trans artists in early stages of creating new work. She has contributed writing to publications by TCG, Ecotone, Routledge, and Haymarket. She is a two-time recipient of the Independence Fellowship in the Arts and her productions of Slip/Shot and Peaceable Kingdom both won the Brown Martin Philadelphia Award.

Emily Schreiner
(she/her) is a change agent and leader in the arts. She is currently working as a freelance arts producer, recent projects include Rose: You Are Who You Eat with John Jarboe and 100 People Listening: A Shared Decade with Philadelphia Contemporary. Emily was formerly the Curator of Education and Public Programs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where she founded and curated large-scale projects such as Art Splash, Friday Remix, and the Futures Therapy Lab. Emily also curated and produced Special Live Performances with artists such as Monica Bill Barnes (Museum Workout), Nora Chipaumire (Portrait of Myself as my Father), Def Poetry Jam Reunion (featuring Sonia Sanchez, Vanessa German, Ursula Rucker and more), Patti Smith (Whitman at 200), the Bearded Ladies Cabaret (Color Me Bearded) and more. @emily_schreiner_creative

Funders/Producing Partners

Wig Wag has been supported by funding and development assistance from: FringeArts, Leeway Foundation, the Glen Arbor Art Center, and The Philadelphia Thing.

Special Thanks

Sarah Bishop-Stone and the Trade School team, Dorie Byrne, Janet and Mark Schreiner, Sarah Szymanski, John Jarboe, Kelly McCarthy, and all the many folks who donated to this production, especially Kate Gallagher and Kate Poole.