By Mady Johnson – [email protected]

People are people. Love is love. That’s where it should end. No matter a person’s sex, gender or sexual orientation, each individual deserves respect and dignity.

This is one of the main messages that comes to life on stage in the CSB/SJU Theater Department’s adaptation of “Stop Kiss” by Diana Son.

The Director for the play is Kaarin Johnston. The two lead roles are played by CSB senior Beth Cassidy (Callie) and CSB junior Breana Burggraff (Sara).

The story follows the two women in their twenties as they live and work in New York City. Sara left her home in St. Louis, Missouri to teach third grade at a public school in the Bronx. Callie has lived in New York since college and now works as a traffic reporter who gets to fly in a helicopter over the city.

They both lack something the other person is able to make up for. Sara gets Callie to mature more, and Callie helps Sara integrate in to the metropolitan lifestyle she desires. Their strong connection leads to their friendship and eventually to their romance. The two experience a hate crime as their romance develops.

“You see that they’re suffering and you see that they are confused and you see that they’re just falling in love,” Johnston said.

Although the play involves accepting all people and all love, Burggraff wants audiences to know it’s about more than that. She says it’s about taking in to account people’s sexuality, so others recognize the struggles the LGBTQ+ community faces on a daily basis with hate crimes and discrimination.

“I think all of us wish we could change people’s minds, but that’s just not how the world works,” Burggraff said.

Several posters displaying statistics about LGBTQ+ hate crime are displayed on the bulletin board outside of Gorecki Family Theater. One of them, pulled from the Movement Advancement Project website, shows that a minority 15 out of 50 states in America have laws to protect citizens from hate crimes based off of both gender identity and sexual orientation.

“I’m hoping that the themes in the show will spark thought, dialogue and conversation about some of these pressing topics,” Burggraff said.

Johnston hopes the play will inspire discussion as well.

“I’ve found that usually people, if they don’t like something, it’s often because they don’t know enough about it,” Johnston said. “I think people fall in love with other people first. It doesn’t matter what color they are, what they look like, what gender they are. People fall in love with people.”

According to Burggraff, the response to the play from audiences has been positive so far. The messages about love and social justice the cast and crew try to get across to the audience appear to be reaching people.

CSB junior Maggie Sullivan attended the play’s free matinee on April 2. Sullivan recognized the significance of the content and said she enjoyed much of the play.

“There were moments that I was uncomfortable, and I think it’s meant for that,” she said. “It opened my eyes a little bit.”

The play runs through next week at Gorecki Family Theater, located in the Benedicta Arts Center and counts as a performing FAE. The remaining performances are at 7:30 p.m. on April 6-8. Tickets can be bought online through the school website, or at the BAC box office. The cost per ticket is $5 for students, $10 for adults and $7 for staff, faculty and seniors.

Feature image courtesy of CSB/SJU Theater Department