Controversy has been ramping up over a staging of Julius Caesar for Shakespeare in the Park, because the title character resembles Donald Trump.
In the play (spoiler alert), Caesar is stabbed in the back and dies, and some theatergoers have blanched at the violence.
I wonder how much of this "art" is funded by taxpayers? Serious question, when does "art" become political speech & does that change things? https://t.co/JfOmLLBJCn
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 11, 2017
The Times review notes that the play does not sympathize with the killers — Caesar and his supporters are closer to the heroes. But the grisly violence is already sparking a financial backlash, with Delta announcing it will pull its sponsorship for the Public Theater. Delta doesn’t mention Trump in its statement, but it’s clear that’s a factor (otherwise it would be odd to get mad about violence in Julius Caesar, which is a violent play).
“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,” a company spokesman told Deadline this afternoon. “Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste. We have notified them of our decision to end our sponsorship as the official airline of The Public Theater effective immediately.”
Update: Bank of America has just pulled its sponsorship too.
Months ago, Public Theater Oskar Eustis hinted that the staging of Julius Caesar would be particularly relevant to our current political situation. He just released a statement about the controversy.