Actors Prepare for “Stop Kiss” Premiere

UAF theatre production “Stop Kiss,” written by Diana Son and directed by Carrie Baker, will premiere Friday Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Salisbury Theatre. “Stop Kiss” features senior theatre students Sierra Trinchet as Sara, a passionate young teacher who just moved from St. Louis to New York to teach at an elementary school in The Bronx; and Katrina Kuharich as Callie, a traffic reporter for the local news station.

Other cast members include Nate Cole as Detective Cole, Corey Dirutigiliano as George, Cynthia Jones as Mrs. Winsley/Nurse, and Mallory Smyth as Peter.

Trinchet and Kuarich’s characters first meet when Callie agrees to watch Sara’s cat, whom she can no longer take care of. The scenes flash back and forth between two narratives.  One is the story of Callie and Sara’s friendship, which eventually evolves into love as they talk about their lives and bond over drinks, commenting on the mysterious ruckus from the neighbors that fills Callie’s apartment like clockwork once a week. The second is a darker narrative of the aftermath of the attack that occurs on the night of their first kiss.

The nonlinear timeline made communicating the story clearly to the audience more challenging, according to Baker. 

 “My understanding of the play unfurled the same way that the love story unfurls, Baker said.  The girls’ experience mimics the audience’s experience.”

The quick scene changes also presented the challenge of changing sets and costumes quickly and keeping up the pace. There was an, “emotional challenge to make each of the realities true, and find the emotional truth back-to-back,” Baker said.

In order to help get into character for the emotional scenes, Trinchet says she used “sense memory,” or a physical action that mimics what she was doing when she felt a certain way, in order to trick her brain into feeling that emotion again. To get ready for the happier scenes she would jump up and down and smile.

Kuharich described her strategy to prepare for the darker emotional scenes as well.

“I have to zone in—I have to not think about anything else—lines, blocking are all automatic—I have to separate myself to what’s happening in the moment,” Kuharich said.

To relate to the character of Callie, Kuharich looked for the quirks in her personality.  Trinchet related to the awkwardness in Sara’s lines.

“There’s lots of awkwardness,” Baker, the director, said, “The women both think they’re straight at the beginning of play, or it sounds like they haven’t been with another woman before. There is the falling in love awkwardness, and a layer of never having been with another woman before.”

When choosing a play, Baker considered many factors such as student needs, artistic interest, and social issues. “I was jazzed by the play creatively,” Baker said. The play also included two leading female roles for senior theses. Trinchet and Kuharich had been involved in stylized plays previouslyso Baker wanted them to work with a contemporary play.

“Getting the natural dialogue in my head and body was a new experience,” Trinchet said.

On Nov. 1 after a Sunday matinee performance, there will be a panel discussion with members of the community concerning LGBT issues.

“I hope that through that dialogue and people seeing the play, the issues can be talked about and influence how people talk about them,” Baker said. “If the audience member feels empathy for the actors then it can somehow transform how they think about gay relationships, whatever the mix-up is.” She noted that while there has been a lot of progression, there has been a rise in attacks against transgender people. “I hope this work can contribute to change,” Baker said.

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