The UCA Theatre Department will present the play “Stop Kiss” on October 26-27 and November 1-3 in the Snow Fine Arts Center. Written by playwright Diana Son, author of “BOY”, “Fishes” and “R.A.W.”, “Stop Kiss” intertwines both a love story and a hate crime.
It tells the story of two women, Sara and Callie, who are bonded through friendship and discover deeper feelings for one another. As their love finally blossoms, tragedy strikes. The play chronicles not only the events leading up to this, but also shows us the tidal wave of trauma that happens afterward.
The play first premiered in New York during the 1998 Shakespeare Festival and won the GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance against Defamation) Media Award. Son won the Berilla Kerr Award for her success in playwriting. “Stop Kiss” is a difficult show, spanning 23 scenes to make up a story which is told in non-sequential order.
It is obvious that the topic of the play is controversial. However, director Dr. Kevin Browne, is confident in his choice of production.
“When I read it, I fell in love with it and the characters. I found it really entertaining and moving. It’s very poignant and uplifting. I was also attracted to its themes,” he said. Many people may judge the play based solely on the homosexuality it introduces. However, it does not focus on only one theme.
“[Neither Sara nor Callie] identify themselves as lesbians. Son is interested in is what she calls the conflict of how other people identify you and the more complex way of how you know yourself. Her explanation is somewhat incomplete because there is also conflict between the feelings that they’re having and realizing for each other and the way they identify themselves. So, identity is a big theme. Additionally the main character Callie, the protagonist, is a woman around 30 who is beginning to discover her life has no meaning. She can’t seem to choose anything of significant for herself and until she meets Sara. Then she realizes that, for a lot of reasons, she’s never found anything worth choosing or winning, but now she has. Commitment and finding meaning in one’s life is another big theme. Homophobia is another big theme, but the play does not focus on that primarily on that. It’s a love story,” Browne said.
This play is sure to relate to anyone who has been insecure or unsure of whom they truly are.
“She’s a lot like I am. The main word I’d use to describe her is an avoider. She likes to avoid things she doesn’t want to deal with,” senior Courtney Bennett said of her character, Callie.
Other cast members include Colley Bailey, who plays fun-loving New York bartender George. “As soon as I read it I thought it was a beautiful story that needed to be told and I wanted to be a part of that process,” he said.
At the end of the first performance, there will be a question and answer session to discuss the themes in the play.
“Another reason I wanted to do this play is here is because I think it’s time for a conversation about what I think is the last prejudice and how I think intolerance inevitably turns to violence. People I hope will disagree with what I said and the playwright’s views because we’ll have a talkback at the end of the show. Anyone, regardless of their point of view will have their opportunity to voice their opinion at that time,” Browne said.