written by Diana Son director Kymberly Mellen
Dates: March 25, 2022 @ 7 pm
Venue: LVCCLD Flamingo
Ticket price: Free
A young couple’s first kiss leads to an act of horrific violence in this soulful play about the many ways our lives can change in an instant. Jumping back and forth in time, Stop Kiss details the unfolding romance between Sara and Callie, two “straight” young women who take the courageous leap of admitting their very real feelings for each other. An intimate portrayal of the unexpectedness of love.
Director’s Note (from the program)
“What do you want, Callie?!”
Although I was aware of the play’s major themes, I hadn’t read Stop Kiss before A Public Fit began to discuss it as a potential Staged Reading. I was concerned that as a straight woman, perhaps I hadn’t the right to tell the story of a coming-out queer relationship. But after reading several interviews of playwright Diana Son, who is also a fierce advocate of the LGBTQ+ community but not a part of it herself, I felt mildly reassured. While Diana Son lovingly centers Callie and Sara’s evolving relationship, it isn’t the only focal point of the play. Son asserts that the universal theme of Stop Kiss is the progression of Callie’s character from an indecisive, fear-driven individual to a decisive woman willing to commit to and serve another human being. I could relate to that journey while striving to empower emerging queer folk who might see our production.
Among the first questions that A Public Fit Theatre Company members discuss when considering a script is, “Why this play? Why now? Is there a reason to produce this play in 2022?” Stop Kiss is almost 24 years old! I wish I could say it was a distanced history piece. When Stop Kiss opened in 1998, tentative dinner conversation may have centered around the killing of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming two months earlier. Unfortunately, with our country’s recent reinvigoration of targeting the “other,” we must continue to stress the courage it takes to explore gender, orientation, and sexuality in many homes, communities, and religions. Few people now can ignore violence done to marginalized groups by walking past with our eyes averted as Callie urges Sara to do on the streets of NY when they first meet. Indeed, some statistics state that nearly half of the generation now coming of age identify as queer. If we don’t identify as queer ourselves, we all must know and love many LGBTQ+ folks and can work in intersectionality to make our world safer for all.
I am also drawn to the masterful juxtaposition of a timeline that zig-zags or swerves back on itself, alternating the past with the future in every other scene. As an audience, we are told the ending in scene two (spoiler alert). However, it is the two-fold journey of watching Callie and Sara search for the courage to choose one another before and after the assault that keeps us invested. Whether we are thinking, “Stop. Kiss!” in support of their budding romance or, “Stop. (Don’t) Kiss!” hoping to prevent a brutal attack, this play reminds us of the simultaneous bravery and vulnerability it takes to sincerely express love. While Callie and Sara’s actions aren’t always valorous, they are recognizably and contradictorily human. I hope we all can pull some pluck from their example, stop swerving to avoid new ideas that threaten our certainty, and love with less fear.
Enjoy the show. Talk about it. Make change. Take risks!
Kymberly Mellen | Director