“Stop Kiss” at Clark College

Entrance to the last showing of Clark College’s 2016–17 season “Stop Kiss” photograph by Shaysie Kuntz

Clark College closed its 2016–2017 theater season on Sunday, May 19th with the play “Stop Kiss” by Diana Son. The play follows two women as their relationship transforms from a friendship to more, ultimately ending in a horrible hate crime against the two.

“Stop Kiss,” originally written in 1998, is a controversial play that centers around Callie and Sara whose first kiss in a park prompts a man to violently attack the girls and causes Sarah to fall into a coma.

“Being a bisexual person myself, and receiving sexualizing and demonizing comments, I feel this play has a very important message to convey,” said Annika Davila, the actress who played a hospital nurse and Mrs. Winsley in the play.

Mrs. Winsley is the woman who witnessed the vicious attack, managed to call the police and threw a flower pot from her window to try to stop the attacker from beating the girls. Later in the play, Mrs. Winsley meets with one of the women and seems to be genuine in her emotions and concerned for their well-being.

When asked about the importance of Mrs. Winsley, Davila said: “She is an important character most definitely! Even though she is having problems at home in her heterosexual relationship, she helps and cares for these two lesbian women.”

The play itself is told out of chronological order — as soon as it begins, the audience is aware of how the story both ends and begins.

“The order of the play gives it a strange sense of power almost. You know what happens [to both of the women] right away, but you don’t know how or when it happens. It keeps you wanting more and to know all of the tiny juicy details,” said Davila.

Detective Cole, who investigates the crime in the play, brings up the possibility of the women giving their attacker a reason for approaching the women by flaunting their kiss. The detective insinuates that because the two were kissing in the park, it antagonized the attacker and in fact, they should not have kissed if they did not want attention.

“I think it’s an important issue that no one talks about enough. Victim blaming is very popular and especially with women,” said Katrina Ericson, an audience member.

While the play itself was written 19 years earlier, its message and content are still very current and real. Everything that happened in the play — from the victim blaming to the attack — is something that can very much still happen today, Ericson said.

Setting up for the show! photograph by Shaysie Kuntz

“I have actually witnessed gay bashing and victim blaming in real life and it made me angry at the world,” she said. “This play makes me hopeful that in the future, with more and more people watching this play, it brings awareness and makes society more aware of these issues.”

In the play, while Sarah lies in a coma at the hospital, the audience sees the toll the hate crime took on Callie, the other woman. Callie has to go through the experience alone, is terrified and feels responsible for the attack.

“This play really tugged on my heart strings and definitely stirred up some real emotions inside, which is not always easily accomplished. It showed true passion, true love, as well as true pain along with it,” said Tessa Sweet, another audience member.

The story wraps up with the remaining details of when the attack happened, what prompted it and the process of the woman in the coma waking up and Callie saying that, no matter what, she wants to be there for Sarah.

“The number one thing I did not like is the fact that it (the play) ended. I wanted more, the acting was great, the directing was great, everything was great! I probably will always want more of that play. It was wonderful,” said Sweet.