Starting March 5th, the Graceland Theatre Department will bring us the production of Stop Kiss, a story of unexpected love. Last week I met with Tracy Salter, the director, and some of the actors in the JR Theatre. Tracy told me more about the play as we sat beside the black box stage, where furniture had been put in place for the set.
“It’s a comic drama,” Tracy explained, “about two women who unexpectedly fall in love.” She explained how the main characters, Callie (played by Sarah Hamar) and Sara (played by Marlee Quirarte), both have ex-boyfriends, but eventually begin to realize how they feel about one another. However, Tracy revealed that “their love story is interrupted by an act of violence.”
Tracy then mentioned that Diana Son, the playwright, claims that while “the central event in this play is a gay bashing, the play is still a love story, and is not about the gay bashing.” The play was originally produced in 1998. This was also the year that Matthew Shepard, a student at the University of Wyoming, was beaten, tortured, and left for dead. Many speculated that the attack was directly related to Shepard’s sexual orientation, and because of this, the event brought national attention to hate crimes and the push for legislation that would help prevent such violence. “I would prefer, and the playwright would prefer, that the play is not about labels, but about two humans finding their way to their identity,” Tracy stated.
Stop Kiss deals with very delicate subject matter. The cast expressed how it feels to play their part in telling such a beautiful and sensitive story. “For my character, Sara, I have a lot of resources to pull from in my life,” Marlee explained. “I have loved ones that are in similar situations, so this process has been exciting to me because it’s something that I can relate to. It’s also exciting because I’m able to tap into some of the feelings that my loved ones may have been feeling. At one time, I was kind of unaware they were experiencing these emotions.”
Sarah Hamar told me about her character as well. “Callie is a fun character because she is confident and funny, but she has the tendency to avoid change in her life. Sara helps Callie grow and that’s one of the reasons she falls in love with her. I’m most excited for the chemistry on stage between Marlee and I, it’s something I’ve never done, so it’s a challenge!”
Kenzie Cox, who plays the nurse, shared her excitement as well. “We’ve all had different rehearsal nights, so seeing it all together as one big show is going to be great.” The cast all agreed that the intimacy and the depth of the play should be very eye-opening for the audience. “I suggest everyone come see it because of the wonderful performances and it’s beautifully written,” commented Sarah, “You’ll really feel for the characters.”
Remember, opening night is March 5th, and tickets are only $1 for students! Also, there will be a talk-back after Saturday’s show, March 7th, and all are welcome to participate.