Closeup Image of polished vintage wood flooring at CFPA - Center for Performing Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rehearsal Reflections: Kat Purcell

New Works Residency: Kat Purcell, Nelle Anderson, and Margo Gray have been selected to spend roughly two months in residence at cfpa to make a new piece that in some way addresses ritual and resilience: ritual of all types (secular, cultural, religious, spiritual, mundane, ceremonial, invented, reinvented, quoted, etc.) and ritual’s relationship to/with/around resilience.

Each Resident will contribute blog posts over the course of their residency. This first post addresses the central question of the project each is building during the residency, and discusses aspects of their creative processes.

Kat Purcell

Kat’s project takes an English Medieval morality play, “The Castle of Perseverance”, as a jumping-off point to explore “the intersections and conflicts between my bodily, corporeal identity and the world around me. Why so special? Why so terminally unique? With this work, I will examine my prejudices against The World, and why we as people feel so embattled by it. . . . With the use of interactive sculpture, dance, sourced interviews and stories of perseverance, and sound effects, I will invite the audience first to the field, then into battle, and finally to the place where Mankind is born and meets his death: inside the Castle of Perseverance.”

Details about the presentations on December 14th and 15th and the other resident artists here.

On Friday, November 9th, Kat met with Eleanor Savage, their mentor for this residency, and with cfpa’s Jackie Hayes and Jennie Ward, in an open rehearsal of their work in progress. Kat offers a reflection on that open rehearsal here.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those solely those of the artist. More about Kat here.


For years, I have been interested in performance as a vehicle for inquiry, certainly for myself, and, one can hope, containing the potential for collective application. In the work of performance, we build avatars for heretofore intangible puzzles, attempting to solve or at least define our questions. And it involves a lot of faith that the elements actually exist. My intention for residency work at cfpa is to dive deeper into themes that I have been finding emergent, as well as challenging myself to focus and hone my sometimes unwieldy and grandiose ideas.

An earlier iteration of the piece, performed at Open Call Cabaret 04. (photo: Bade Turgut)

I have built an interactive sculpture, and if allowed would continue to build it and break it down simply and for years – for my own pleasure and self-actualization. But how do I share that with others? In presenting an open rehearsal, I was surprised in how vulnerable this made me feel. I obsessed in being “interesting” and “accessible” by including visuals and narrative components that, in retrospect, I see as extraneous.

My sketch as I planned out the twine sculpture (in cfpa’s Chapel.)

My digital rendering of the twine sculpture (for cfpa’s Sunroom.)












I ask myself: am I including an element because I am unable to perform in the right space, include the ensemble collaboration that I dream of, find the perfect building materials? What uses do my theatrical instincts have, and how can I evolve my relationship to dramatic device? How can I build a space big enough for the experiences, observations, emotions and bodies of others inside my sculpture. . . A sculpture which is my body, is a world, is an avatar for community?

The Castle of Perseverance (original manuscript)

Historian’s sketch rendering of the playing space for “The Castle of Perseverence.”











The insight that open rehearsal can provide is invaluable. I am working to make connections, after all, and how could I know how to non-narratively present the experience of my self without testing and discovering relationship to witness? I have since renewed my commitment to simplifying and stream-lining the work that will be presented at the end of the residency, since I have discovered that the work is interesting enough.