Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre cancels play; director accused of discrimination

By Jill Ryan
Published: Friday, February 9, 2024 - 5:02pm
Updated: Friday, February 9, 2024 - 7:36pm

Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale
Jill Ryan/KJZZ
Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale.

Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre last month canceled an upcoming production of the play "Roosters" and has accused the director of engaging in discriminatory practices. However, there’s been backlash from within the Arizona theater community accusing Desert Stages, and not the director, of being in the wrong. 

"Roosters" is a play about a Chicano, Mexican-American family in the Southwest. At issue was what happened after the teen actor, cast to play daughter Angela, revealed to the director that she was not Latina. The casting call had identified the character’s ethnicity.

Director Chris R. Chávez says he felt the only ethical way to address this was to rescind the role and recast. Otherwise, he says, it would be a “disservice to the community the play is supposed to represent.”

“I, being a Chicano artist and this being a Chicano play, I will always forthright go with the story and who is telling the story," Chávez said.

Chávez sent a letter to Desert Stages leadership and board of directors on Jan. 20 explaining his decision. Chávez announced on Instagram on Jan. 30 that the play had been canceled.

In a statement this week, Desert Stages said rescinding the offer went against its discrimination policy, and the audition notice did not state that “ONLY people of Latine heritage would be allowed to audition and be cast in the play.”

As of Friday afternoon, there were more than 100 comments on a Facebook post from Desert Stages about the play's cancelation.

Business Arts + Entertainment Race + Diversity