In 'Stop Kiss', Women Find A Safe Space In Each Other
Stop Kiss is a play with moments that are impossible to forget, but one has burned an image onto my brain forever: Missy Maramara, as Callie, on the floor fiddling with playing cards. Jenny Jamora, who plays Sara, on the sofa giggling and giddy with wine. Callie gazes upside down at Sara, giving her the tenderest and most vulnerable of smiles, and for a moment so fleeting—blink and you’ll miss it—it feels like the world stops.
The play, with a running time of an hour and a half, is written by American playwright Diana Son and was first performed at The Public Theater in New York City, starring Jessica Hecht and Sandra Oh, to rave reviews. It’s won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding New York Theatre Production on Broadway or Off-Broadway, and it’s been staged in various theaters all over the world, including Manila back in 2003—only five years after its off-Broadway premiere—with Maramara and Jamora in switched roles, and directed by theater veteran Monique Wilson. This time around, it’s Gawad Buhay and Aliw Award-winning director and designer Ed Lacson Jr. at the helm, leading a team of young, passionate theatre artists.
The story that "Stop Kiss" wants to tell is simple: Callie, a New York City traffic reporter, meets Sara, an enthusiastic and not-to-be-messed-with Missourian who moves to New York to teach third graders in The Bronx. Told through twenty-three non-linear scenes, it’s a story many have experienced, and maybe even heard of, but might not necessarily have seen performed: two women meet and their connection is palpable and scintillating, but all they are is just "friends," nothing more, until they do become something more. "Stop Kiss" blurs the line between female friendship and romance, a line that is rarely crossed in art and media, a line that is all but ignored. “But I mean, have you ever…?” Callie asks. “I mean, I can’t imagine any woman who’s never felt attracted—” Sara responds, before Callie interrupts her with a resounding “RIGHT!”
"Stop Kiss" doesn’t ignore that line, and it doesn’t ignore the consequences either. Callie and Sara share a kiss—a big, fat, wet one to make sure that you know what’s happening—and their world comes crashing down. But it’s not all a downward spiral; it’s not all just devastation. "Stop Kiss" is bold in that it shows two women in love, but it’s even bolder because it doesn’t allow women to just suffer. The show is empowering to women that way, and even more so to women who, in Jamora’s words, “fall in love with other women.” And women are the star of the piece, through and through. In "Stop Kiss," women are safe spaces for other women. They lift each other up. They help. They save lives. They love. In that cozy, pink stage at the Power Mac Center Spotlight, women become each other’s homes. And home is safe, warm, and comfortable.
Stop Kiss also features Tarek El Tayech, Gabe Mercado, Robbie Guevara, Jay Valencia-Glorioso, and J-mee Katanyag. The limited rerun will play at the Power Mac Center Spotlight in Circuit Makati until July 21, 2019. For tickets, visit ticket2me.net.
Photos courtesy of Stop Kiss Manila