Stop Kiss makes us stop and think about LGBTQ+ issues

“Stop Kiss”’s commentary on homophobia, particularly toward queer women, reminds us these are still very real problems and it is our responsibility to acknowledge them and think about prevention.

The Studio 200 show is about Callie and Sara, two New Yorkers in their late 20’s. It follows their relationship before and after their first kiss, which is interrupted by a homophobic hate crime against them. The story is non-chronological, so it switches between different times in the relationship and the girls’ recovery. The audience does not actually see the homophobic incident the play is based around until the end of the show.

“Communities like Oak Park often pretend that they don’t have problems with discrimination, and showing that those things still exist, even in communities that claim to be super forward thinking, is really important,” said senior Brigid Barrette.

Freshman Clara Frantzen, who played the role of Callie, described Stop Kiss as “the perfect representation of how being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is normal and OK.” The play, written by Diana Son and directed by senior Sydney Germany, was performed on Nov. 3-5 in OPRF’s Studio 200 theater.

Germany said she chose the show because it is “very real and personal. As a queer person, it feels like my duty to tell this story,” she said.

Freshman Grace Williams, who played Sara in the production, said the aftermath of hate crimes and “how they affect people and their families and loved ones” does not get enough recognition as a topic.

For Frantzen, the subject matter of the show was a draw when deciding whether or not to audition. “When I read about the show I already knew it was going to be a very personal story for me,” they said. “During auditions when I was reading Callie’s part, it felt like something I could relate to.”

Senior Jack Berleman-Paul played the roles of Peter, Sara’s possessive ex-boyfriend, and Detective Cole, the detective investigating the attack on Sara and Callie. He expressed excitement to be back doing live in person theater.

“Stop Kiss was my first live theater experience in almost two years,” said Berleman-Paul.

The cast of the show had a notable variety in ages and grade levels. The cast featured three freshmen and two seniors. Germany said her favorite part of the show was “getting to know all the actors, getting to work with them, and really just forming a connection with all of them.

“I think that is my favorite part of every show, making friends and getting to bond in such a safe space,” said Germany. “That is important.”