Kiss: exploring the idea of
JULIE THOMPSON - STAFF
Admit it: At one point or another in our lives, we have
all been attracted to things we cannot have. Be they material possessions,
or more to the point, other people, the lure of the forbidden is an undeniable
part of everyday life. However, when this attraction becomes too strong
and the barrier between the out-of-reach and the attainable is crossed,
dire consequences can ensue.
The unwarranted result of such taboo breaking is addressed
on a highly personal level in the play Stop Kiss, a production of the
Department of Theater and Dance directed by Joan Sand, being performed
this Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 7:00 p.m. in the Wish Theater.
A superb cast stars in this deeply thought-provoking and edgy play, which
focuses on the relationship between two young women living in New York
City and an event that changes their lives profoundly.
We are first introduced to Callie (Gemma Saunders '01), a
New York-bred radio traffic reporter who is completely at home in the
city. She is slightly off-put at the prospect of having to introduce Sarah,
a friend of a friend from St. Louis, to the city and all of its dangers
and excitements, but once the two meet it becomes obvious that friendship
will soon follow. Sarah (Andrea Weeks '03), an elementary school teacher
leaving her doting family to teach in the Bronx, is determined to make
a place for herself in New York and branch out from St. Louis's familiar
Although the two have had completely different experiences
and share little in the way of background, Callie and Sarah soon develop
a close friendship. They share stories of the men in their lives; of Callie's
friend George, whose role occasionally overlaps with that of a lover,
and Sarah's ex-boyfriend Peter, with whom she parted ways after a seven-year
relationship. Their personalities, too, are very distinct. Sarah, who
is devoting her life to helping children learn, has a clear idea of where
she wants to be in her life and career, as well as who she is. Callie,
on the other hand, is constantly "swerving," in the words of Sarah: she
has a hard time making up her mind about many things, including her job,
George, and how she feels about Sarah.
The story unfolds from the aftermath of the event that transpires
and through flashbacks to scenes from the past. After our introduction
to the characters, we are thrown into a scene from the present, in which
a detective is questioning Callie. She describes a terrifying attack on
herself and Sarah that sent the latter to the hospital in a state of unconsciousness.
What the audience does not find out for certain, however, until later
on in the play is the set of circumstances surrounding this traumatic
In essence, the situation boils down to this: Callie and
Sarah were attacked because they were seen kissing. Diana Son, award-winning
writer of Stop Kiss, explains: "…to others, they're lesbians. But in their
minds exists this whole web of emotions that they're alternately giving
in to and fighting against…Because the incident in the play happens to
women other people think of as 'straight,' I think it's more accessible
than if it happened to women living their lives as lesbians."
Whether or not this is true, the play is accessible for many
other reasons as well. The characters might as well be recent Bowdoin
graduates trying to make it in New York; the cast does an excellent job
of letting us into their minds and feelings. Sanders brings a vivacity
and liveliness to the role of conflicted Callie, and Weeks artfully portrays
Sarah and the subtle changes her psyche goes through as the play progresses.
Says Weeks of her involvement in this complex production,
"I really enjoyed working on the show. The cast is great and I have had
a wonderful time working with Joan…things have come together so quickly,
too." The supporting cast, including Max Leighton '01 as the caring George,
Jack Curtin '01 as Sarah's ex Peter, and Josh Wolfe '03 as the tough detective,
are an outstanding complement to the main characters and are crucial in
revealing the true sentiments of Callie and Sarah. This is truly a production
not to be missed. Tickets are free at the Smith Union info desk.
Andrea Weeks '03 and
Gemma Saunders '01 rehearse for this weekend's performance. (Jane Hummer/Bowdoin