The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Poison Cup Players present “Stop Kiss”


From Oct. 24-27, the Poison Cup Players performed “Stop Kiss” in the Black Box Theatre. This play by Diana Son chronicles the powerful yet tragic story of a homophobic attack against two women after their first kiss. 

Director Emily Hopkins ‘20 found this play in a prior theatre class at Loyola. “I first read ‘Stop Kiss’ in my queer theater and film class sophomore year.” 

Hopkins was drawn to the work for its interspersing of tragedy with humor. While every other even scene featured the aftermath of the attack, the odd scenes highlighted characters Callie (Lizza Banquer ‘20) and Sarah’s (Kayla Greene ‘22) blooming relationship. “I wanted to focus a lot on making sure that the odd scenes played a prominent role in the show and didn’t get overshadowed by the heaviness of the even scenes,” said Hopkins. “I think it would be really easy to focus on the fact that their meet-cute leads to an awful event, but I also think that Diana Son was very purposeful in excluding the moment of that attack from the show. It isn’t about a homophobic attack, but instead, it is about two people discovering a new relationship and growing together.”

Indeed, the constant pendulum between the aftermath of developing trauma and promising new love relentlessly heightened the romance between Callie and Sarah, ultimately letting audiences leave with more hope than despair. 

These drastic transitions were a challenge for lead Banquer. “I wanted to convey as much raw emotion as I could,” said Banquer. “All the odd-numbered scenes were so innocent and so full of love while the even scenes were the opposite; Callie was grieving and mourning the life she had with Sara… I would leave the stage crying after a powerful monologue, but seconds later I had to be smiling and laughing. It was emotionally and physically exhausting.”

All that effort paid off, as Banquer’s performance masterfully portrayed the internal struggle of coming to terms with experiencing hope for new love and coming into her own skin. Callie’s arc navigates the uncertainty any new relationship goes through — queer or not — and in the process also illustrates a journey of personal growth. She deals with friend and former lover George (Justin Halpern ‘23), a nasty detective (Joseph Doyle ‘21), and even Sarah’s former love Peter (Zach Caruolo ‘22), all of whom question with varying degrees Callie’s role in the night of the attack. 

Joseph Doyle ’21 (left) and Lizza Banquer ’20 (right). Image courtesy of Jay Mendez ’20.

The show had 23 scenes, with each scene being a new day, and the main character showing up in 22 of them. For costume designer Marley Scheld ‘20, “The most difficult part about costume designing the show was trying to think about how to handle the quick changes while not sacrificing any of mine or Emily’s visions.” After picking out costumes, many of which were reused and reworn by the cast throughout the show, Scheld also helped backstage during performances. “With the help of ASM Jamie Ditzel [‘22] we were able to pull off the quick changes backstage between each scene. It was definitely stressful and there was no time to breathe during the 90 minutes of the show, but adrenaline really kicks in when you only have 30 seconds to help someone out of jeans, converse, and a flannel and into a dress and heels,” said Scheld.

It takes a village to make any production happen, but there is something remarkably special about student affairs. “I loved collaborating with students because everyone has an influence on what our end goal is,” said Hopkins. “It’s challenging because we are not professionals, obviously, so we’re learning as we’re working.” 

Vanessa Gleklen ‘21, stage manager for “Stop Kiss,” noted that this play was her first student production. “While there was definitely help when needed (a very large thank you to [Technical Director] Alison Peoples), the majority of ‘Stop Kiss’ came together through the creativity and determination of students, and that was amazing to be part of. The community formed around “Stop Kiss” was devoted to telling the story in the best way possible by bringing Emily’s ideas to life. We all became this community through this show, and it was really special to be part of it.” 

That community was very much needed for a subject matter this heavy. Though the play was written in 1998 before the queer community made strides with marriage equality, the subject matter still has pressing relevance. “I still hear LGBTQ people as punchlines or hear about physical and verbal attacks against queer people in the news,” said Hopkins. In her director’s note, Hopkins said that this past summer’s violent attack against two queer women riding a London train made the tragic elements of the play all the more real. 

Representation of the queer community is not only important today, but also fascinating to explore. “I especially love ‘Stop Kiss’ because it features two women with a fluid sexuality. When I first read it, it was taught as a play about bisexuals, which I love because the B [in LGBTQ+] needs much more representation than it gets,” said Hopkins.

Caitlin Dwinnell ‘20, who sound designed the show, brought that representation into a whole other part of the production, saying, “the music used in the show was pulled from female and queer female artists. I tried to make the sound reflect the themes portrayed in the scenes and I wanted to punctuate the previous scene’s emotions while carrying the viewer into the context of the next scene.” Ticking noises and hospital sounds were popular motifs among a careful selection of songs that only added to the devastation of the story. 

Kayla Greene, who listened to that hospital monitor beeping from the onstage coma, came to understand what it meant to bring this story to life. “One of the incredible things about theatre is it gives so many opportunities for different stories and individuals to be represented. Representation through theatre or any art form has the capability to make us feel like we are not alone in the things we go through or the choices we make. I think that by highlighting queer stories in art, we are not only bringing that representation, but also have the capability to make [audiences] feel a little less alone.”

Stay tuned for the Evergreen Players’ next production of “Love and Information” by Caryl Churchill and directed by Kyle Prue on Nov. 21 – 24. 

Feature Image: Lizza Banquer ’20 (left) and Kayla Greene ’22 (right). Courtesy of Jay Mendez ‘20. 

View Comments (2)
More to Discover

Comments (2)

All The Greyhound Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • AnonymousDec 24, 2019 at 10:47 pm


  • AnonymousNov 17, 2019 at 11:00 pm


Activate Search
Poison Cup Players present “Stop Kiss”