Langhorne Players Presents Stop Kiss

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Langhorne Players is ambitious. They challenge themselves: their directors, set designers and actors. They strive to offer their audiences something beyond the typical community theater experience. With Diana Son’s Stop Kiss, Langhorne Players succeeds again.

Stop Kiss has an ambitious format — a linear spine of flashbacks interspersed with aching limbs, all told with no intermission. The protagonist, Callie, is portrayed by the luminous Carla Ezell, who holds this gangly body together with incredible strength. Ms. Ezell is spectacular, brave, commanding — the very definition of ambitious. Callie is not.

Callie is just happy enough with her life. She has a rather public profession as an award-winning helicopter traffic reporter, but values her privacy, so much so that she feels compelled to place tape over the peephole before she lets loose with her dance moves in the seclusion of her own apartment. It’s a spacious New York City apartment, acquired through piercing heartbreak, but she allows the sanctuary of her home to be auditorily invaded twice a week by a noisy neighbor. She has friends, including one with bed privileges, which he rather abuses.

Callie may report on traffic trouble for a living, but she runs and hides from confrontation in her own life. She doesn’t even balk when a friend of a friend of a friend wants her to take in her cat.

The cat’s owner is Sara, played with restrained force by Leann Newman. Sara seeks out adventure, running after it with widespread arms, although such openness is new to her and she isn’t always up to the challenge. She recently left her longtime boyfriend, parents, and comfortable position in a private school for a teaching fellowship in the Bronx — to replace a teacher who had been shot dead by his student.

Sara was once “the kid who had the right answer, who never raised her hand, hoping the teacher would call on them.” Now she has a classroom full of them. She celebrates when a third-grader writes her own name for the first time, and is inspired when her 8-year-old student shuts down a mouthy crackhead during an after-school walk with his teacher.

“Best thing to do is to walk on by,” says Callie as Sara relates the tale.

Sara is too impressed by the boy’s backbone to listen. Her own is growing strong in her adopted city and it feels good. Sara is ready to spread her wings, finally. Thai food? Sure, she’ll try it. The subway late at night? Why not. Dancing at a lesbian bar? Come on, Sara says to Callie, let’s go.

Callie gains some momentary strength from her new friend and suggests sitting on a park bench in the wee hours of the morning, where the two women share their first kiss.

But as with the rest of their lives, nothing is private, nothing is sacred — not even a first, delicate kiss in a budding romance. They are always being watched: by the car-driving public, by impressionable schoolchildren, by violent crackheads.

Director Jack Bathke has peripheral characters on stage with the two women, always watching, always judging, as is the case with the detective, played by Vincent Pileggi who is also the assistant director, set designer and builder.

Detective Cole is condemnatory and unkind. Somehow that the two women were kissing on what becomes the worse night of their life seems important to him, as if it justifies their pain.

Sara’s ex, portrayed by Jonathan Edmondson, is in denial and overcome with jealousy. “Why was she protecting you?” he screams at Callie.

And for the self-absorbed George, played by Ken Marblestone, the women’s trauma is all about him and his pain.

Instead, it is other women who stand in witness to the ordeal Callie and Sara are suffering. Kathryn Wylde brings a jaundiced acceptance to her Mrs. Winsley character and compassion to her medical professional character. Mrs. Winsley was watching over the women from her window above and helped in the only way she could. The nurse watches over them now.

Both of Ms. Wylde’s characters acknowledge Callie and Sara’s relationship with a matter-of-factness that Callie herself hasn’t yet reached. Sara’s and her churning relationship was interrupted before Callie could get on board and now the train has chugged to the next station without her.

Callie has to decide if she will redeem her ticket or refund it. But people are watching. Callie is exposed, laid bare. In a heartwrenching scene, Callie is center stage and under the glare of the spotlight, which despite her public persona is not comfortable for her. She urges herself to “speak truth to power” but doesn’t “know what that means.”

Yet to back quietly away from the commotion would be to betray Sara. Saying nothing would permit Sara’s parents and ex to reclaim Sara for the former life she had fled, right when Sara is at her most vulnerable. Right when the two women had only just begun to love.

–by Jodi Thompson

 

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Bucks’ Own

Solve the cryptogram to find a quote by Margaret Mead. Kudos if you know the name of the streets at the intersection in Doylestown where this sign is located (without googling it).

BKOKF XKRAKOK DSWD W YKT EWFABI QKGQRK EWB’D ESWBIK DSK TGFRJ. YGF, ABJKKJ,

DSWD’H WRR TSG KOKF SWOK.

Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

— Jodi Thompson

I Love a Parade

The haze was a result of special effects on a passing float. The weather wasn't at all steamy last year, and promises to be just as glorious this year.  Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

The haze was a result of special effects on a passing float. The weather wasn’t at all steamy last year, and promises to be just as glorious this year.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Each year the tiny town of New Hope celebrates with a parade. People and vendors line the route. Those marching are a crazy-fun mix of liberal religious groups showing support and proud folks showing, sometimes, much more.

A float in the 2012 parade that played a loop of Donna Summer songs to honor her recent passing.  Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

A float in the 2012 parade that played a loop of Donna Summer songs to honor her recent passing.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

These photos were taken by K. Bailey Fucanan at last year’s parade.

The parade enjoys a festive air. Not all are gay, but all are happy. Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

The parade enjoys a festive air. Not all are gay, but all are happy.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

New Hope Celebrates Pride Parade 2013 takes place Saturday, May 18 at noon.
Plenty of references to popular films and Broadway favorites.  Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

Plenty of references to popular films and Broadway favorites.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

tee

The t-shirt I wore in last year’s parade. Alas, although members of my congregation will once again march this year, I am not able to join them this time around. There’s always next year.
Photo by Bailey Fucanan.

— Jodi Thompson

Labyrinth Found – Do You Know Where?

labyrinth in grass

Do you know where in Bucks County this labyrinth is?

There’s a labyrinth in there. It’s hard to find, but look down or seek the sign. It’s along the path, set in stone, an excellent walking meditation when you’re all alone.
The grass is nearly hiding the stones of this labyrinth. More use may help the stones stay visible.

The grass is nearly hiding the stones of this labyrinth. More use may help the stones stay visible.


labyrinth along road

For some 5,000 years, walking a labyrinth has been used to quiet the mind, meditate or pray. Doing so may help you gain insight, reduce stress or help recover balance in life. You can find them in churches and cathedrals, schools, medical centers, prisons, retreat centers, back yards and public parks. If you know which 33-acre county park boasts this labyrinth, say so in the comments.

— Jodi Thompson

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!

oscar hammersteinThis sign commemorates the primary home of Oscar Hammerstein II from 1940 until his death in 1960. Do you know the name of the Bucks County borough where this sign sits? Kudos if you can name the street where this sign sits and/or the two musicals for which Hammerstein, along with Richard Rodgers, won the Pulitzer Prize.

— Jodi Thompson

Mummers Crossing

mummerscrossing

Do you know the name of the town where this sign stands?

This sign isn’t in Philadelphia, where you’re more likely to see Mummers crossing, especially around Broad Street on New Year’s Day. No, this sign is in Bucks County, near the home of a certain string band that has participated in the Mummers Parade since 1938. When practicing, the string band members are known to cross the street to the fire station parking lot, hence the sign.

According to its website, the band was originally based in North West Philadelphia, and moved to Bucks County in 1990. It merged with another string band the next year.

This signage begs three questions: 1) In which small town does this sign stand? 2) Near which string band home is it located? 3) Which string band merged with it in 1991? Answers to all three questions will be posted soon.

— Jodi Thompson

San Francisco That-a-way

bridge sign

Which bridge boasts this fabulous sign? Feel free to respond via comments.

This sign has always been one of my favorites. It sits on the Pennsylvania side of one of my favorite bridges. When the bridge was refurbished a few years ago, I was concerned the sign would disappear. It didn’t. The sign I adore, but don’t comprehend, still stands.

No Horses

Note: Horses Not Permitted on Bridge

I can appreciate pointing to New York, but why San Francisco? Indeed the cities are at nearly the same latitude (about a 3 degree difference). Is that the reasoning behind the sign, or is there another rationale? I like to think that’s the cover the sign maker used when, in truth, the City by the Bay is where he left his heart.

— Jodi Thompson