The Pink Slip

What's behind the accusations that got artistic directors fired from two local troupes?

"It's not about who's gay," according to "Lola," a theater freelancer who says she'll never work again if New Times uses her real name. "Because every parent knows that their kids are going to work with tons of gay people in the theater. It's all a political witch hunt."

Lola points out that Weltzien's Greasepaint replacement, actress Robyn Ferracane, was fired soon after she settled in. "They threw her out because she wouldn't play the game. She worked like crazy for almost no money, but she wouldn't cast kids just because their mom was [influential]. So she was out the door."

Ben Tyler, who recently resigned from his post as artistic director of Desert Foothills Community Theater, experienced similar woes. "If I hadn't quit, I probably would have gotten fired," he says, laughing. "[The board] wanted me to cast by zip code -- to give preferential treatment to actors who lived in the area. I wanted to cast the most talented performers who showed up to audition."

"I was given no opportunity to defend myself," says Gregory Jaye, who was asked to resign from Theater Works over what the company called "unacceptable social behavior with minors." In recent months, artistic directors at three local troupes have been met with such accusations.
"I was given no opportunity to defend myself," says Gregory Jaye, who was asked to resign from Theater Works over what the company called "unacceptable social behavior with minors." In recent months, artistic directors at three local troupes have been met with such accusations.

That attitude will eventually triumph, Weltzien believes. "In time, it'll go back to being about art and not people's petty issues," he says.

Jaye is also hopeful, but more cautious.

"If something good has come from this," Jaye says, "it's that artistic directors have learned to cover their asses with an employment contract."

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