Two major corporate sponsors of New York's Public Theater on Sunday pulled funding for a production of a President Donald Trump-themed production of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar."
According to Time, in the production of the play based on the Roman statesman Julius Caesar, the title character is dressed to portray Trump. Caesar’s wife Calpurnia “speaks in a Slavic accent — a nod to First Lady Melania Trump.” The play is scheduled to be performed Monday during New York’s annual free Shakespeare in the Park event in Central Park.
The play depicts Caesar’s assassination, spurring criticism that the murder scene depicts violence against the president.
A description of the play on the theater’s website reads: "The Public Theater’s Artistic Director Oskar Eustis directs JULIUS CAESAR, Shakespeare’s play of politics and power, last seen in the Park 17 years ago."
"Rome’s leader, Julius Caesar, is a force unlike any the city has seen," it adds. "Magnetic, populist, irreverent, he seems bent on absolute power. A small band of patriots, devoted to the country’s democratic traditions, must decide how to oppose him. Shakespeare’s political masterpiece has never felt more contemporary."
The controversy surrounding the play grew after Donald Trump Jr., one of the president’s sons, criticized the production on Twitter:
I wonder how much of this "art" is funded by taxpayers? Serious question, when does "art" become political speech &… https://t.co/zSHHD8Z6IJ— Donald Trump Jr. (@Donald Trump Jr.)1497192987.0
In a statement posted on Twitter, Bank of America wrote that it would pull its funding for the production.
We are withdrawing our funding https://t.co/MlaONF82FN— Bank of America News (@Bank of America News)1497231754.0
A spokesperson for Delta Airlines said in a statement provided to The New York Times that “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.”
“Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste,” the statement read. “We have notified them of our decision to end our sponsorship as the official airline of the Public Theater effective immediately.”
Jesse Green of The New York Times wrote in his review of the production that “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 play is scheduled each night, except Wednesday, through Sunday.