By Daniela Avila and Isac Kim

Take a trip back in time to New York City’s West Village in 1998 and the struggling romance of two women Callie and Sara, through “Stop Kiss” brought to you by the Cal Poly Pomona Theatre and New Dance Department for seven nights at the University Studio Theatre.

The dates for the show are February 21, 22, 23, 28, and March 1 and 2 at 8 p.m. and again at 2 p.m. March 3.

Callie, played by Samantha Joun, a fifth-year theater student, and her love interest in the play Sara, played by Samantha Avila, a fourth-year theater student, share a kiss one night which enrages a bystander. 

This individual ends up hurting them and they end up experiencing life-threatening injuries. 

The story then goes back and forth as to how these two women crossed paths and how their relationship formed and developed over time.

For those who have not been inside the University Studio Theatre, it is recommended to take time and check it out. 

The small, intimate room sets the tone perfectly for the play from start to finish. Although small, with not as much space to work with, the team has managed to create the interior of Callie’s cute vintage apartment in New York with clean transitions between each scene.

Samantha Avila, left, and Samantha Joun star as lovers Sarah and Callie in “Stop Kiss” which runs through March 3. (Courtesy of the Theatre Department)

The director, B.J. Dodge, wrote in her note to the audience that this play is about the discovery of identity. 

Callie and Sara have both been hiding something that was always there to begin with, until they meet each other and could do this no more.

This play is relevant to many current issues in society today. Meanwhile, the performance is still humorous and relatable to the young audience while portraying the nerve-wracking experience of having feelings for another individual. 

“I feel when people come out I want them to understand the struggles of romance in the LGBTQ community,” Avila said. “But also to be able to take a step, take a risk, show yourself and not be afraid of who you are.”

This concept of relevance also made it easier for Joun to prepare for the show, when asked to place herself in the situation.

“This one was generally easy because unfortunately, this happens all of the time,” Joun said. “It’s a lot of just kind of sitting (by) yourself and visualizing how that went and really going picture by picture, frame by frame, seeing it in your head.”

The play also contains profanity and a couple of nude scenes. 

When talking to Avila, she also revealed how she felt about exposing herself. 

“I didn’t feel ashamed, I think that’s the biggest thing that I had to overcome,” Avila said. “I know that Sarah would’ve wanted it. I wanted to do her justice and I wanted to do the story justice.”

People in a recent audience were also intrigued by how well the show was put together.

“I was trying to keep my mind open to see what it’s like and I’m thoroughly impressed,” Karli Chang, a third-year psychology student, said. “I really enjoyed that you’re so close to seeing these actors and even though you’re so close, they don’t break their character.” 

This show allows you to escape into the lives and struggles of people who are around you every single day, shedding light on the darkness and coming to terms with who you really are. 

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