Kate Busselle

Columbia, MO

Kate is a Violence and Intimacy Designer and Doctoral Candidate at the University of Missouri. Pursuing her Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance Studies, Kate researches the performance of violence committed by aggressive women onstage. She most recently staged the violence, sexual violence, and intimacy in Mizzou’s production of The Rimers of Eldritch, which was featured in the LA Times as a part of the inaugural Lanford Wilson Conference. She also staged the violence and intimacy on Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1, 2, and 3 by Suzan-Lori Parks and Good Kids by Naomi Iizuka, which was selected to perform at the KCACTF Region 5 Festival. Her experiences in this production were published in an article in Fight Master entitled “When the Problem is Personal: Working on Naomi Iizuka’s Good Kids as a Sexual Assault Survivor.” Kate also staged the intimacy in the regional premiere of Kelly Lusk’s (a love story) at University of Central Florida when she was a Master’s student.

I found myself doing intimacy work when two actors I was working violence and intimacy with had a falling out outside of rehearsal. They had been attempting to stage oral sex on stage on their own, but the lack of trust that was now present in the rehearsal was palpable, so the actors asked me to assist in staging. In hindsight, I am horrified that the actors had to ask for choreography and were expected by the director to figure this out for themselves without any tools for conversation. Actors need to be empowered to advocate for their own safety physically, emotionally, and mentally when it comes to staging intimacy, sexual violence, and physical violence, especially when all other advocates fail to do so. My work focuses on providing the tools of empowerment for actors to be able to keep their bodies safe during acts of violence and intimacy. In addition, my own experiences as a sexual assault survivor give me insight as to how to navigate these situations when there is a past trauma involved, whether that is for the director, actor, technician, or other theatre artist working on a moment of intimacy, violence, or sexual violence.