Stage Kiss (Ruhl)

Stage Kiss (Ruhl)

by  Sarah Ruhl

Full Length Play, Comedy  /  4m, 3f

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.
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Stage Kiss (Ruhl)

Stage Kiss (Ruhl)

by  Sarah Ruhl

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    4m, 3f
  • Duration


    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre


    Romantic Comedy
  • Accolades


    From Off-Broadway
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Senior
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

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. Stage Kiss captures Sarah Ruhl’s singular voice. It is a charming tale about what happens when lovers share a stage kiss—or when actors share a real one.
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  • Sarah Ruhl is the 2003 recipient of the Whiting Award for Drama


"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...who find life and art mixing together when they rekindle an old romance during rehearsals for a play." — New York Times

"FOUR STARS. Sarah Ruhl delivers a brilliant comedy that aims for big laughs and hits its target. Funny: There’s nothing like it." — New York Post

At once a knowing sendup of the hazy half-truths of stage naturalism and a goofy meditation on the nature of desire and sexual fantasy, [Stage Kiss] manages to be both wholly original and instantly recognizable to the audience. As a satire of theatre and theatricals, it’s right up there with Neil Simon’s 'The Sunshine Boys.''- The New Yorker

"There's not one but two plays-within-a-play in Sarah Ruhl's "Stage Kiss," a highly meta-theatrical, fundamentally enjoyable, slightly slight, not-so-romantic comedy pondering the complexity of onstage osculation." - Variety

Stage Kiss is part parody, part inside-baseball valentine to theater, part falling-down silly physical comedy about love." - Newsday

The gorgeously articulate author of The Clean House and Eurydice is in top form with this delightful piece" - Theatremania

Additional Information from Playwrights Horizons


  • Sarah Ruhl on Subtext
  • Sarah Ruhl Stage Kiss
  • STAGE KISS by Sarah Ruhl, Playwrights Horizons
  • Rebecca Taichman on STAGE KISS, Playwrights Horizons
More videos +


Performing Groups

  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Dinner Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Large Stage
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups


  • Caution Alcohol Alcohol
  • Caution Drugs Drugs
  • Caution Mild Adult Mild Adult Themes

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $125 per performance
  • Mandatory Music/Media Fee: $15 per performance



  • Time Period: Contemporary, Present Day, 1930s
  • Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: The set has three modes which should easily transform. A red curtain would be nice to set off the plays within plays.
    1) A raw theater space (emptiness)
    2) A 1930s stage set (artifice happy to be artifice)
    3) A naturalistically messy east village apartment, as real as possible (artifice ashamed of its own artifice)
  • Features / Contains: Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes, Period Costumes


4m, 3f
SHE - A woman in her mid-forties. Plays the role of Ada Wilcox.
HE - A man in his mid-forties. Plays the role of Johnny Lowell.
KEVIN - the reader, also plays the understudy and the doctor and the butler
ANGELA - An actress in her early twenties who can believably play a teenager—plays THE MAID in act 1 and ANGELA in act 2
AN ACTRESS - in her late twenties or early thirties, plays MILLICENT in act 1 and LAURIE in act 2
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Cast Attributes

  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)



Sarah Ruhl

Sarah Ruhl’s plays include How to Transcend a Happy Marriage, For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday, The Oldest Boy, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, The Clean House, Orlando, Late: a cowboy song, Dear Elizabeth and Stage Kiss. She is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and a Tony Award nominee. Her plays have been ...

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Stage Kiss enjoyed it's world premiere at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago, in 2011, before making its New York City debut at Playwrights Horizons in 2014 under the direction of Rebecca Taichman.

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