Two women meet in a New York City apartment – Callie, a transportation reporter and Sara, a public school teacher.
A friendship sparks.
And in the process they develop an unconventional romance, combat misogyny and biphobia and break away from heteronormative society.
Diana Son’s “Stop Kiss,” performed at The Clarice’s Cafritz Foundation Theatre Sunday, tells the story of Callie, played by Ashlyn Lee, and Sara, played by Tamar Gasko, who develop feelings for one another.
Their relationship evolves in seasoned New Yorker Callie’s apartment when she offers to cat sit for Sara.
After their first kiss in a public park in New York City’s West Village, a man begins harassing them. Sara objects to his advances, and the altercation becomes physical, putting Sara in a coma.
Sam Mauceri, the performance’s director, said the attack shows the interaction between biphobia and misogyny. She said there is a perception today that “bisexual women owe something to men.”
“This play, even though it was written in the late ‘90s, is more relevant now than ever,” the senior theater and Arabic studies major said.
News of the “gay bashing” hits the press, and their relationship becomes publicized before the pair has time to define it for themselves.
Son’s play isn’t chronological. Instead, it juxtaposes scenes of the relationship between Callie and Sara before and after the violence.
Both women have men in their lives. Callie has a friend with benefits, George, played by Ken Johnson while Sara has an ex-boyfriend, Peter, played by Brandon Deane. Callie and Peter grapple over Sara’s care, leaving her to choose between the two of them.
The play’s unresolved ending, where audiences are left to wonder whom Sara chooses, left freshman economics major Jane Lyons disappointed.
But Mauceri hates tidy endings, she said.
“The last scene gives you hope,” she said. “It just leaves you wondering how [Callie and Sara’s] relationship will proceed.”
Lyons said the connection between Callie and Sara represents modern romances that are often difficult to identify using traditional labels.
“Relationships can be hard to define. Sexuality is such a fluid thing,” Lyons said. “You don’t really know where you fall with it.”
After the play, junior marketing and info systems major Naomi Lieberman said she hoped audience members would grasp “the importance of respect for one another and their choices of their sexuality.”
“For a student production, where everything comes together at the last minute, everything went incredibly well,” Mauceri said. “I hope people will take away a greater sense of nuance and subtlety in terms of relationships and identities.”
Jordan Branch is a junior multiplatform journalism and government and politics major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.