Stop Kiss - November 03 - November 05, 2016

The Beacon School


Stop Kiss is an acting class staple. It is no surprise that most studio classes have more female than male students and Stop Kiss offers so much for a room full of powerful women eager to practice their craft. As a teaching text, I love this play. As the psychological snapshot of a very specific moment in our cultural history? I LOVE IT. It’s so earnest. It’s so charming. So heavy. The level of detail built into the text captures New York with such delicate humor and admiration. It is both melodramatic and unabashedly real.


Stop Kiss is firmly rooted in the 90s, a time when two women, moved to kiss on a whimsical night in the park, could very much find themselves the victims of a violent hate crime. Personally I remember that time far too vividly. In fact, this is the first time I’m producing a “period” play that is from a period I actually experienced first hand. Oof.


But why now? When I came out at 24 years old my mother wept because she knew the world could be cruel. She would get upset if I cut my hair too short, and begged me to “never be on TV gay”, or “front of the parade gay”. To her it was a question of my safety and I respected that. But after the disaster in Orlando Beacon students wanted to address homophobia directly with our work in the theatre department. My incredibly insightful, and incredibly brave, students called me out for constantly downplaying “my gay” and they were absolutely right.


So we started with an indirectly gay agenda with our plan to produce an opulent LGTBQ+ inclusive Romeo + Juliet. But logistical circumstances lead us to downsize. We needed to move smaller and faster to make this early calendar slot work. For a few days we scrambled through material but there it was, my old studio favorite, Stop Kiss, which thanks to the current political climate was suddenly very, very, very topical and very, very, very direct. A catcall gone terribly wrong. A love story. A detective witch hunt. A simple, not so simple, kiss.


So B’DAT is finally producing a “gay” play. Can a play be gay? Is it fair to label a play as such and force it into a box? I get very angsty about the labeling. Am I a gay teacher? Yes. I am. But it certainly isn’t the most interesting thing about my work, or my person. But inevitably it comes up in conversation, and I won’t lie. If someone uses a homophobic slur I immediately address it. But is that enough?



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