Student directed Spring Play Festival concludes with “Stop Kiss”


Madeline Ruebush

The cast posing after a dress rehearsal from left to right Phoenix Dominguez playing Detective Cole, Riss Halbwachs playing Callie, Arnold Barrage playing Peter, Margarita Diaz playing Sara, Jaspreet Singh playing George, Tiffiny Wright playing Mrs.Winsley and Nurse, and Manuela Torres-Orejuela, the student director.

Madeline Ruebush, Reporter

For the first time, Bakersfield College Performing Arts presents the 2023 Spring Play Festival featuring student directors and actors in four different plays, the last two of which will be showing before the start of Spring Break.

BC Theater Professor Brian Sivesand’s goal for the event was to put on two or three plays, but that number quickly rose after auditions. He had to assign four shows, so that there would be enough roles for everybody.

“Art” written by Yasmira Reza and student directed by Victoria Gomez and “Reasons To Be Pretty” written by Neil Labute and student directed by Liz Bomar have already successfully run, according to Sivesand. “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” will be showing until April 1 at the Edward Simonsen Indoor Theatre.

The last play, “Stop Kiss”, written by Diana Son, and student directed by Manuela Torres-Orejuela, will be showing March 30-April 2 at the same indoor theatre.

“I am brimming with joy and disbelief at everything we’ve accomplished in the months since we started,” Torres-Orejuela said after being asked how they are feeling about the play.

Although active in the arts, this is their first time directing a play.

“I watch films and read books more than I consume plays, so this particular play was a perfect match for my stage-directing debut since it’s written much more like a script for TV or film with its frequent transitions and cinematic time-jumping,” they said.

“Stop Kiss” is a contemporary play featuring a lesbian relationship and their struggles after being targets of a hate crime. But it’s more than just that to Torres-Orejuela, who explained “the play is also about compulsive heterosexuality and…a lesbian love story without centering or catering to the male gaze.”

Tech crew member Danisha Woolfolk setting out props onstage. (Madeline Ruebush)

They are excited for the audience to experience the play once the show opens and they hope that it “encourages people to catch plays more, or to execute big projects with the help of their community.”

The viewing angle will be intimate as well. The seating is not in the large theater seating like it is for some performances. Instead, the audience will sit onstage with the actors, creating an intended immersive experience for the audience.

“I’m really excited for the actors to receive real-time feedback on the characters they’ve crafted,” Torres-Orejuela stated.

Costumer and set dresser for “Stop Kiss” Nathan Armendariz posing next to the costume rack. (Madeline Ruebush)

For those interested in participating in next year’s event, anybody can audition, said Sivesand when asked, but they must then sign up for Theater B27, a two-credit acting lab. And directors are chosen by Sivesand himself. Or, if you are active with the theater department, you can also be a part of behind the scenes such as Danisha Woolfolk who is a part of the tech crew and Nathan Armendariz who is the costumer and set dresser for “Stop Kiss” and “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress.”

To buy tickets for “Stop Kiss” or “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress”, go to or visit the Bakersfield College Performing Arts ticket page.