Julius Caesar production featuring assassination of Donald Trump sees sponsors drop out

Delta Air Lines and Bank of America withdraw support for New York staging of Shakespeare play recasting 'noblest Roman of them all' as tweet-happy President

Tom McElroy
Monday 12 June 2017 08:07
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Tina Benko, left, portrays Melania Trump in the role of Caesar's wife, Calpurnia, and Gregg Henry, centre left, portrays President Donald Trump in the role of Julius Caesar during a dress rehearsal of The Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park production in New York
Tina Benko, left, portrays Melania Trump in the role of Caesar's wife, Calpurnia, and Gregg Henry, centre left, portrays President Donald Trump in the role of Julius Caesar during a dress rehearsal of The Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park production in New York

Delta Air Lines and Bank of America have announced that they are pulling their sponsorship of a Manhattan-based theatre company's portrayal of Julius Caesar as a Donald Trump look-alike in a business suit who gets knifed to death on stage.

Atlanta-based Delta released a statement on Sunday saying it was pulling its sponsorship from The Public Theater “effective immediately.”

“No matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of Julius Caesar at this summer's Free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines' values,” the statement said. “Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste.”

Later Sunday night, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America said it was withdrawing its funding for the production.

“The Public Theater chose to present Julius Caesar in such a way that was intended to provoke and offend,” the bank said in a tweet. “Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it.”

Performances at Central Park's Delacorte Theater began in late May, just days before comedian Kathy Griffin was widely condemned for posing for a photograph in which she gripped a bloodied rendering of Trump's head.

Oskar Eustis, the Public Theater's artistic director who also directed the play, said earlier in a statement that “anyone seeing our production of Julius Caesar will realise it in no way advocates violence towards anyone.”

Messages seeking comment from The Public Theater weren't immediately returned.

Earlier Sunday, Donald Trump Jr retweeted a Fox News story about the play and wrote:

Julius Caesar tells a fictionalised story of a powerful, popular Roman leader who is assassinated by senators who fear he is becoming a tyrant. It is set in ancient Rome, but many productions have costumed the characters in modern dress to give it a present-day connection.

The production runs through 18 June.

Associated Press

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