Kiss kiss bang bang

Students in the Xperimental Theatre will perform Diana Son‘s “Stop Kiss,” a play that explores relationships and two women’s identity amid a brutal crime.

by Joseph Kleinschmidt


What: âÄúStop KissâÄù

When: 9 p.m., Thursday through

Saturday; 2:30 p.m., Sunday

Where: Xperimental Theatre,

Rarig Center

Cost: Free (email [email protected])

âÄúLaw & OrderâÄù often begins the same way âîÄ a crime scene depicts a lifeless body or some macabre result of an assailantâÄôs crime.

The Xperimental TheatreâÄôs latest play may not revel in fake blood and violence, but âÄúStop KissâÄù attempts similar realism, albeit from a less formulaic standpoint.

âÄúItâÄôs not as cheesy as âÄòLaw & Order,âÄôâÄù***** said theater junior Zoe Wilson, the director of the XperimentalâÄôs production.

But âÄúStop KissâÄù bears some resemblance to the long running legal drama in its gradual extrication of a crime. In fact, playwright Diana Son even wrote for the TV show.

The play follows Callie and Sara, two friends whose relationship slowly morphs into a fleeting romance. SonâÄôs 1998 work obviously confronts issues of sexuality, but Wilson stresses the universality of âÄúStop Kiss.âÄùe

âÄúItâÄôs not about these women coming out,âÄù Wilson said. âÄúItâÄôs not about them being gay.âÄù

If âÄúStop KissâÄù wanted to exploit any novelty in being a play about lesbians, Callie and SaraâÄôs involvement would be obvious âÄî the two might be interlocked in some sort of soft-core porn fantasy. Instead, the audience confronts the stark ambiguity of their relationship. Sara struggles with an emotionally abusive boyfriend as he arrives to visit her, and she seeks solace in CallieâÄôs amity. This line soon blurs for the two, aiming at evoking the significance of self-discovery.

âÄúI think itâÄôs about finding out who you are and struggling with the identity of how others put labels on you,âÄù Wilson said.

For Sara, the prospect of an identity search leads to violence. The non-linear timeline juxtaposes the aftermath of a vicious attack on Sara with the two friendsâÄô escalating involvement with one another. Sara lies inert as a result of the assault for half of the scenes which the audience sees woven together. Viewers must unknot the ties between past and present.

âÄúI think itâÄôs important to see what Callie was, where she [is] now and how the things in the past have affected how she feels now,âÄù theater sophomore Danie Feld said.

Callie deviates from utter despair to bliss in sequential scenes, posing a unique acting challenge. But this mesh of events induces a compelling raison dâÄôêtre for the audience to grapple with as âÄúStop KissâÄù progresses.

âÄúThe emotional changes from scene to scene are just from one end of the spectrum to another,âÄù theater sophomore Nicole Kopfmann said.

Callie and SaraâÄôs relationship leads up to their first kiss, but the audienceâÄôs cognizance of the unseen violent act adds extra weight to this conclusion. The challenge in portraying the two friendsâÄô budding relationship alongside the outcome of violence probably outweighs the serialized attempt of SonâÄôs âÄúLaw & OrderâÄù excursions because of televisionâÄôs limitations. TheaterâÄôs vast combinations of art forms make âÄúStop KissâÄù all the more poignant.

âÄúI think making theater is close to impossible,âÄù Wilson said.

âÄúItâÄôs finding those moments where it works and itâÄôs magical. And itâÄôs something we canâÄôt see on a TV screen.âÄù