by Harvey Fierstein
directed by Joe Mantello
originally produced at Manhattan Theatre Club,
New York, NY.
April 1, 2014
through June 15, 2014
(Photo of playwright Harvey Fierstein.)
Back in 1962, most men went to the Catskill Mountains to escape the summer heat, but others took the two-hour drive to escape something else entirely: being men. Nestled in the land of dirty dancing and borscht belt comedy sat an inconspicuous bungalow colony that catered to a very special clientele: heterosexual men whose favorite pastime was dressing and acting as women. It was paradise for these men—white-collar professionals with families—to spend their weekends discreetly and safely inhabiting their chosen female alter egos. But when faced with the opportunity to become an official organization, these "self-made women" had to decide whether public recognition would help them gain a place in open society or spell their own personal disaster.
MTC has made a passionate commitment to cultivate new collaborations that broaden our roster of talented writers. Our tireless efforts to seek out new work help to keep theatre exciting and challenging both for our artists and our audiences. Casa Valentina is Harvey Fierstein’s first play in 30 years and his first-ever collaboration with MTC, and we are truly proud to be producing this compelling and unique story. Infused with Mr. Fierstein’s trademark wit, Casa Valentina is a moving, insightful and delightfully entertaining new work that offers a glimpse into the lives of a group of unforgettable characters as they search for acceptance and happiness in their very own Garden of Eden. While this production takes place in the early 60’s, the themes of sexual identity and social acceptance outside conventional gender roles speak also to current times, notably the recent violence toward gays in the New York area as well as antigay sentiment in Russia. These events connect with the themes in Casa Valentina including the issues that relate to true freedom within society, and making a distinct point about how far we have come, and how far we still have to go.
With nine characters, Casa Valentina has a particularly large cast for an MTC production. With numerous actors and many moving parts to this play, including complete transformations from the actors’ male characters into their female personas, it is paramount that the actors are provided the critical extra time to work individually with director Joe Mantello to better develop their roles. Harvey will also work closely with Joe and the cast to provide his expertise and insight on these intricate performances. A grant to support additional rehearsal time will greatly help us accomplish this creative task.
Director: Joe Mantello
Set Design: Scott Pask
Lighting Design: Justin Townsend
Sound Design: Fitz Patton
Costume Design: Rita Ryack