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There's a casting controversy at a Scottsdale theater. Something similar happened in Mesa in 2022

Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre canceled the play "Roosters," which was supposed to open this month. The catalyst was a recasting decision that the theater claimed to be discriminatory.

Taylor Moschetti is with another community theater in the Valley. She took over as Mesa Encore Theatre’s producing artistic director after a similar issue happened in 2022 at this theater.

A two-day, one-act play festival that was supposed “to focus on the diversity and inclusion through the arts” instead was canceled after many BIPOC actors and crew walked out two days before opening, accusing leadership of being complacent or actively contributing to a disrespectful and unsafe production process.

An open letteralso called for the previous producing artistic director to step down.

A later investigation by the theater concluded that “multiple areas needed to be addressed.”

When Moschetti started, she implemented an accountability system into her rehearsal processes, she says, with the intent of making rehearsal spaces  open to problem solving if issues of inappropriate behavior or language arise.

She says actors need a frame of reference to portray a marginalized character because otherwise: “You don't get true authenticity. You also are potentially creating more stereotypes that don't deserve to exist,” Moschetti said.

Jill Ryan joined KJZZ in 2020 as a morning reporter, and she is currently a field correspondent and Morning Edition producer.