Love and Violence: ‘Stop Kiss’ Comes to Harvard

It’s a plot that could easily have been ripped from the headlines: a young gay couple attacked on the street while kissing. Telling a story typical of the kind of violence the BGLTQ community faces daily, the premiere of Diana Son’s “Stop Kiss” nevertheless surprised New York audiences in 1998. Now, from Sept. 22 to 24, the production comes to Harvard’s Loeb Experimental Theatre, where director Casey J. Durant ’18 aims to put on a production that goes beyond violence and politics to deliver a deeply human love story.

“Stop Kiss” is the unfolding story of the relationship between Callie, a traffic reporter, and Sara, a schoolteacher, two young women living and working in New York City. The two are walking through the West Village one night, when they share their first kiss; suddenly, a bystander attacks them viciously, leaving Callie badly injured and Sara in a coma. The play is nonlinear, slipping between the aftermath of the attack and the relationship preceding it from scene to scene.

For Durant’s first attempt at directing, she purposefully chose a play that speaks to the struggles of a group that is often underrepresented in our culture. “Something that was really important to me going into this process was to highlight stories that don’t always get told in theatre,” Durant says.

She says it was equally important to find a script that was not only a political statement, but that also told an engaging and intellectually stimulating story. “It was really important to me that the two women in this play are really complex, fully-fledged characters, as well as showing this beautiful and healthy lesbian relationship on stage.”

Actress Peryn E. A. Reeves-Darby ’18, who plays Callie, agrees. “Any story which is not considered the ‘norm,’ which is not what you see on ABC Family—it’s good to see that,” she says. She feels that the production holds something valuable for everyone, even if one disagrees with the principles underlying the production. “The show will really make people think,” she says. Even if you don’t necessarily agree with everything we’re saying, it’s such a good show, it could open your mind to new things.”

Cast member Robert Rush ’18 feels the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club is breathing new life into a production that debuted two decades ago. “I think what we bring to it is youth,” he says. “We’re young, we’re in college, we’re living in a time that is severely different from 1998. [We bring] a fresh, young perspective.”


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