Sponsors Withdraw Support From ‘Julius Caesar’ Because It Looks Like Trump Gets Assassinated
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Bank of America and Delta Air Lines pulled their sponsorships for this summer’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar in Manhattan following an uproar over its staging. In the current production by New York’s Public Theater, the eponymous Roman leader is portrayed as obvious ringer for President Donald Trump, and at the end of the play, Caesar/Trump is murdered onstage.
But apparently staging the play as Shakespeare wrote it, though in modern setting, “crossed the line on the standards of good taste,” according to a statement from Delta.
“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.”
Bank of America has chosen not to support art that might “provoke and offend” some people:
We are withdrawing our funding pic.twitter.com/MlaONF82FN
— Bank of America News (@BofA_News) June 12, 2017
Who exactly felt provoked and offended? As you might suspect, right-wing media outlets like Breitbart News and Fox News Insider.
Breitbart’s story on the production was titled “‘Trump’ Stabbed to Death in Central Park Performance of Julius Caesar.” Fox’s piece opened with “A New York City play appears to depict President Trump being brutally stabbed to death by women and minorities.”
In this staging, Caesar has blondish/orangish hair, wears a sharp business suit with an American flag pin, and his tie dangles several inches below his belt. His wife, Calpurnia, speaks with a Slavic accent and dresses fashionably. So yeah, it’s Donald Trump. No one is hiding this or denying it.
And yes, Caesar gets killed in brutal fashion and it looks like Donald Trump being assassinated.
However, what the play emphatically does not do is celebrate, support or in any way endorse the assassination of Caesar, Trump or any other leader. Quite the opposite, in fact. As noted in the review by The New York Times:
Even a cursory reading of the play, the kind that many American teenagers give it in high school, is enough to show that it does not advocate assassination. Shakespeare portrays the killing of Caesar by seven of his fellow senators as an unmitigated disaster for Rome, no matter how patriotic the intentions.
The show is directed by Oskar Eustis, who posted a note on the Public Theater’s website saying, “Julius Caesar can be read as a warning parable to those who try to fight for democracy by undemocratic means. To fight the tyrant does not mean imitating him.”
Gregg Henry, who plays Caesar, told Backstage that the play is a “warning that Shakespeare had as well that when a tyrant comes to power and the way you fight that tyrant, it’s very important how you then try to deal with the problem because if you don’t deal with the problem in a proper way, you can end up losing democracy for like, 2,000 years.”
It shouldn’t be difficult to understand that you can present Julius Caesar as a metaphor for contemporary America without promoting the idea of political assassination. The Public Theater knows this, and judging by the support they’ve received, so do most people:
— The Public Theater (@PublicTheaterNY) June 12, 2017
The show runs through June 18. Tickets, as noted above, are free.
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