Social justice, feminism are key issues in ‘Stop Kiss’
August Pelliccio – General Assignment Reporter
It has been 19 years since Stop Kiss was written, and the Crescent Players proved that the ideals of feminism and social justice are just as relevant today.
Opening night of the Crescent Players’ second show this semester was last Tuesday. Director Raphael Massie said the turnout for that opening performance was good, with about two thirds of the seats sold.
Massie said, “It’s a little nerve wracking getting an audience for the first time.”
He said despite this, he thinks all of the kinks were ironed out before opening night. The Thanksgiving holiday interrupted the most important week of rehearsal, but 4 days of 10-12 hour rehearsals, and 2 days of 5-hour rehearsals prepared the cast well.
The show, written by Diana Son, is centered on two female leads: Callie, played by Maeve Cunningham, and Sara, played by Melanie Summers. The story follows these characters navigating an attraction toward each other, which leads to a violent hate crime against Sara for her sexuality.
Massie said, “It was written in 1998, but the interesting thing about the script is that it doesn’t say ‘1998,’ it says ‘now.’ I took that to mean whenever this play is produced, that is the time period that you’re setting it in.”
So this particular performance was set in 2017 New York City, but the theme of social justice and LGBTQI acceptance is no less important than in 1998.
Thursday evening’s performance was followed by a “talk back,” during which professors of women’s studies and cast members discussed with the audience the importance of the values highlighted by the show.
Massie said, “We wanted to start a dialogue about what the show is trying to say.”
Laura Bower-Phipps, a professor of curriculum and learning said, “Don’t think it’s changed as much as it should have.”
She spoke about her journey as a member of the LGBTQI community, and some of the hardships she has faced along the way, before urging that acceptance is as important now as ever.
“I wish I could say ‘no it’s not relevant anymore,’ because in 19 years, a lot has changed legally,” said Bower-Phipps. “We have national marriage equality, we have a lot of places where people cannot be fired based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but we have a push back against that.”
To report on the show itself, the acting was very professional, and the set and costume design were well executed.
Lead Maeve Cunningham said, “I definitely feel like each night gets better and stronger, and I think we all, as actors, find new things every night.”
Massie confirmed that with each show, the play “tightened up” and “evolved.” Massie also said, however, that there is a point where the director needs to let them have their own show.
He said this because Crescent Players, by design, is an entirely student-run club. The director and advisor give feedback during the rehearsal process, but faculty advisor Mike Skinner said, “Once the final dress rehearsal happens, we take a step back and let the students run the show.”
Photo Credit: August Pelliccio