As terrorism and frightful acts become increasingly persistent throughout the United States, Piedmont High School acting students decide to shine the Allen Harvey Theater spotlight on this issue.
Seniors Nina Adarkar and Leah Kochendoerfer are directing the play “Stop Kiss” for an Acting 3-4 independent project. Advanced acting students will perform the student-directed play on Oct. 13 at 7:30 PM in the Allen Harvey Theater.
“Stop Kiss” is set in New York City during the 1990’s. It is about two women who, after meeting and becoming romantically involved, are targeted in a hate crime. Scenes in the play flash between events from before the incident to events afterwards, all coming together to make sense in the end.
The play’s story touches on themes of sexual experimentation and orientation, said cast member, junior Andrew Hansen.
“It makes a statement, I’d say,” Hansen said.
Senior Char Nakashima-Conway said that she originally found “Stop Kiss” over the summer and fell in love with its style of contemporary, semi-drama, semi-romance, and fun with a little comedy. At the time Nakashima-Conway found the play, she was feeling remorseful towards the current news in America of the Orlando shootings.
“A huge component of [“Stop Kiss”] is gay terror and personifying and honoring the people who face it, because they are real people. I think it is an important story to be told,” Nakashima-Conway said. “It is not morose or anything, it is very lively and fun. You come to love the girls.”
Nakashima-Conway said that she and senior Caroline Dunlap knew that they wanted to work together in an independent play this year. After finding “Stop Kiss,” Nakashima-Conway planned to direct it with Dunlap, but instead decided to act after realizing that they fit the characters well. They then showed the play to seniors Nina Adarkar and Leah Kochendoerfer, who decided to be the directors.
The cast was chosen from students in the Acting 3-4 class who were not already cast in the current main production, “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
The cast consists of Nakashima-Conway as Sara, Dunlap as Callie, Hansen as George, junior Jonathan Dinetz as Peter, senior Emma Nash as Ms. Winsley and a nurse and senior Grady Wetherbee as Detective Cole, Hansen said.
“[Sara] is a great character and I definitely see a lot of myself in her,” Nakashima-Conway said.
“Stop Kiss” is the first play that Adarkar and Kochendoerfer both have ever directed. They are learning to find a balance of creating their own ideas for the actors outside of the stage directions, but also give the actors freedom to act how they think fits the character, Adarkar said.
“We have never had that experience before,” Adarkar said. “We’ve been in it, but not stepping back and getting to see something that we initiated.”
Because of their high level of respect and trust, the cast of “Stop Kiss” has no issues taking direction from the student directors instead of a professional teacher.
“Sometimes it can be intimidating to be directed by your peers and sometimes it can be intimidating to direct your peers, but there is enough mutual respect between us, and [we know] that if someone gives you a direction, it is not because they think you are doing badly,” Nakashima-Conway said.
There is usually one after-school rehearsal each week for two hours, Hansen said, but the amount of practices will increase closer to the date of the play.
Each time the cast meets, they run through scenes and Adarkar and Kochendoerfer stop and give critique, Hansen said.
Adarkar and Kochendoerfer receive almost no guidance from Acting teacher Kim Taylor. She has given a couple suggestions, and attends both the after school practices and tech week, Adarkar said.
The audience can purchase tickets for “Stop Kiss” at the entrance to the theater the day of the show. Tickets will be $2 for students and $5 for adults.
Hansen hopes that the Piedmont High School community will come and watch the production of “Stop Kiss,” and like its format as much as he does.