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Theatre department chair and Professor of the Practice Scott Edmiston is exploring issues of gender identity on stage with the New England premiere of the Tony-nominated play Casa Valentina by Harvey Fierstein. Edmiston directed the play which is being produced by the SpeakEasy Stage Company and runs through November 28.

Based on actual events, Casa Valentina takes place in 1962 at a Catskills resort where a group of heterosexual men secretly gather to dress and behave like women. When asked to publicly reveal their female alter egos in the pursuit of social acceptance for cross dressing, “the sorority” must decide whether freedom is worth the risk.

Casa Big

“Casa Valentina shows us that questions about gender identity and sexual identity have been with us for a long time, and we are still seeking answers” according to Edmiston. “There is humor to the story, but the play is not camp. It’s a compassionate and somewhat political examination of the potentially high cost of being your true self.”

Broadway World wrote: “Edmiston achieves the right balance between the humor and the pathos…it’s a well-written, well-acted, and artfully designed production that is funny, provocative, touching, and authentic.” The Boston Globe review stated: “Though set more than a half century ago, the play has a certain resonance today, a time when notions of gender identity and expression have become more fluid.” Arts Fuse added: “What gives Casa Valentina dramatic weight is how skillfully the cast explores the various tensions that swirl about the subject of who is gay, who is straight, and what is legal behavior. Director Edmiston gives each performer enough time and room to tell their stories and, many of these personal confessions movingly dovetail hilarity and heartache.”

Casa Valentina plays through November 28 at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA.