The Washington Post

Anti-gay violence in play ‘Stop Kiss’ hits close to home

In “Stop Kiss,” opening Sept. 7, Rachel Zampelli, left, and Alyssa Wilmoth play Callie and Sara, two New York women whose growing romance is tested when they become the victims of a hate crime. (C. Stanley Photography)

When No Rules Theatre put Diana Son’s play “Stop Kiss” on its season calendar, it was months before a group of lesbian women in Columbia Heights accused two men of yelling slurs and attacking them as they walked home last month.

But when ”Stop Kiss” opens in a few weeks, audiences won’t help but feel chills at its newfound subtext.

Son’s nearly 15-year-old script follows two women who are falling in love and who, on a night out on the town, become victims of a hate crime when they spurn a man’s advances. The play eerily echoes the recent real attack in Washington, from the allegations of homophobic slurs to the community response.

“This is a story that was written years ago that still has a lot of revelance, and a lot of topics that still need to be discussed,” says Anne Kohn of No Rules Theatre, which recently won a Helen Hayes nod as the region’s Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company.

In response to the attack in Columbia Heights, the theater has scrambled to schedule talkbacks for audiences to discuss the issues in both the play and the community: Working with the Metropolitan Police Department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit , the theater has scheduled the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League for a post-show discusssion Sept. 11; on Sept. 29, the DC Trans Coalition will be present; and several other dates include opportunities to talk with the cast.

“It’s a beautiful story, a beautiful play,” says Kohn. “The subject matter is important. It’s worth having a conversation about.”

Lavanya Ramanathan is a features reporter for Style.


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