NEW YORK PREMIERE
Art imitates Life. Life imitates Art. When two actors with a history are thrown together as romantic leads in a forgotten 1930s melodrama, they quickly lose touch with reality as the story onstage follows them offstage. Sarah Ruhl’s singular voice returns to Playwrights Horizons with Stage Kiss, a charming tale about what happens when lovers share a stage kiss—or when actors share a real one.
Scenic Design Neil Patel
Costume Design Susan Hilferty
Lighting Design Peter Kaczorowski
Sound Design Matt Hubbs
Original Music Todd Almond
Hair & Wig Design Tom Watson
Choreography Sam Pinkleton
Production Stage Manager Cole P. Bonenberger
Photos by Joan Marcus
CRITIC'S PICK. Suffused with warmth and humor. Sarah Ruhl frothily whips together romantic comedy and backstage farce in this lively comedy about a pair of actors — delightfully portrayed by Jessica Hecht and Dominic Fumusa — who find life and art mixing together when they rekindle an old romance during rehearsals for a play. It is nimbly directed by Rebecca Taichman.—Charles Isherwood, NY Times
FOUR STARS. Sarah Ruhl delivers a brilliant comedy that aims for big laughs and hits its target. Jessica Hecht’s riotous performance will easily rank among the year’s best. Funny: There’s nothing like it.—Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post |Read Full Article
A GIFT AND A RARITY: a superb new romantic comedy that’s moving, smart, and flat-out hilarious. Jessica Hecht gives a career-redefining performance of such neurotic realism as to derange your internal gyroscope completely. A brilliant master class in bad acting. Dominic Fumusa’s performance is a perfectly calibrated poor-man’s Cary Grant. Rebecca Taichman’s superbly breakneck direction never lets up. You will have difficulty breathing. Stage Kiss is that funny.—Jesse Green, New York magazine |Read Full Article
NON-STOP ENTERTAINMENT. A crazy adorable script by Sarah Ruhl. Director Rebecca Taichman seamlessly directs a wonderful cast. Stage Kiss is a gem. Don't miss it.—Fern Siegel, Huffington Post
"Stage Kiss" is that rare play that begins as a laugh-out-loud comedy and ends on a note of touching poignance. And what's in between is a hefty mix of farce, slapstick and heavy drama.—Roma Torre, NY-1
An excellent backstage farce. It's very smartly written—each character is unique, quirky and very funny—and it’s splendidly acted. Always charmingly hilarious, Jessica Hecht plays with obvious glee.—Jesse Oxfeld, The New York Observer
Stage Management Resident Michael Barbour straps on a GoPro camera to give us a little glimpse of the madness that goes on behind curtains during our transition from Act I to Act II.
Former Box Office Manager Michael Cyril Creighton returns to Playwrights Horizons, but this time, as an actor in STAGE KISS.
Tim Sanford: Did you ever kiss someone yourself onstage? Sarah Ruhl: Yes, when I was in Joyce’s scene study class. I was 13 and I’d never kissed a boy before, and Murphy Monroe just went in with full tongue, and I’ll never forget the look on Joyce’s face. She said, “Oh, Murphy, you need to ask permission.” [Laughs] But I was not a very good actor. It was clear that I was meant to be in the back writing and watching other actors even though I loved, I loved rehearsal but I didn’t love the audience to come and see me.
A panel discussion curated by playwright Sarah Ruhl featuring actor Kathleen Chalfant, actor Hamish Linklater, psychologist/expert on couples & sexuality Esther Perel, and moderated by Tony Charvuastra.
An interview with director Rebecca Taichman where she talks STAGE KISS, working with Sarah Ruhl, and her own personal stage kiss story.
In conjunction with our production of Sarah Ruhl's Stage Kiss, Playwrights Horizons reached out to its audience for stories and images of memorable stage kisses. From the submissions, we chose the best of the bunch, and are pleased to share these with you.
PH on Instagram
Kissing on stage is both real and not real. Like urinating on stage, you sort of have to do it, there is a physical reality to the act, but the context renders the action fake. The actor’s body, one presumes, is flooded with all sorts of hormones while kissing on stage, but some attachment to reality keeps actors from falling in love with each other. (Except for when they do fall in love.)
When you first encounter Sarah Ruhl’s Stage Kiss, you might be slightly surprised to find what looks like a relatively straightforward and accessible backstage comedy. In fact, I would dare say its robust humor, unabashed romanticism and tightly conceived structure give it the stature of a crowd-pleaser. It starts with an audition. After a lengthy hiatus from acting for motherhood, a woman tries out for, and is cast in, the revival of an obscure ’30s comedy of manners. On the first day of rehearsal, she learns her leading man is being played by her Capital E-X ex. The next thing you know, she’s stage kissing and stage kissing and stage kissing this man. What happens next? Will life imitate art? Or will art imitate life? It’s funny as all get-out—but where is the Sarah Ruhl play?
About two months into my first semester at a small liberal arts college, I arrived at Classic Texts 210 to find my professor—an egg-headed, brilliant man—sitting smugly in front of a question he posed on the chalkboard behind him: “Did Oedipus kill his father and marry his mother?” The word “did” was underlined twice. After a weighty silence, in which the class had no idea what was happening, he leapt to his feet and spent ninety minutes rapidly drawing out the events in Sophocles’s play, magnificently revealing its plot-holes. Like a geekier Jack McCoy on Law & Order, he proved how Creon couldn’t possibly have known that Laius was dead when he declared Oedipus the new king of Thebes; and he proved how Oedipus’s account of what went down at The Crossroads is discrepant from the Shepherd’s, meaning someone else must have killed dad; and he found a detail about Oedipus’s ankle woes (though I can’t remember what) that proves Jocasta isn’t his mother. After class, I exited to the quad in a bit of a daze. A month later I transferred to a Big 10 school, where I studied acting.
One can infer from the old adage that a customer would be unlikely to buy a package of sausage printed with full-color illustrations of the process by which it’s been made—from farm, to slaughterhouse, to factory floor. And yet, people sure love Noises Off. Michael Frayn’s 1982 farce about a bad play being badly played is, year-after-year, among the most-produced plays (by professionals and amateurs alike) in both the US and the UK.