During the latest “Shakespeare in the Park” production in Central Park, New York City, the cast plays out William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar – except instead of Caesar, it is who appears to be President Donald Trump being assassinated at the hands of his peers.
The blonde actor is seen in a Trump trademark, a suit and bright red tie, as opposed to ancient Roman garb.
The portrayal comes during a time when the country’s political climate is tense; tense enough to cut with, say, a knife.
The New York City Public Theater presents the Shakespeare in the Park productions, and companies have pulled their sponsorships of the theater organization.
Bank of America and Delta Airlines have withdrawn their sponsorship. However, American Express and New York Magazine have not.
American Express tweeted a statement on Monday and clarified its sponsorship.
“We would like to clarify that our sponsorship of the Public Theater does not fund the production of Shakespeare in the Park nor do we condone the interpretation of the Julius Caesar play,” the company wrote.
The Public Theater organization includes the Public Theater, Joe’s Pub at the Public, the free Shakespeare in the Park and the Under the Radar Festival.
New York Magazine on Tuesday tweeted an article from Vulture about corporations not being able to demand “squeaky-clean art,” with an image from the Julius Caesar production.
Bank of America tweeted on Sunday that it was withdrawing its funding of the Public Theater.
“Bank of America supports arts programs worldwide, including an 11-year partnership with The Public Theater and Shakespeare in the Park,” it tweeted. “The Public Theater chose to present Julius Caesar in such a way that was intended to provoke and offend. Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it.”
“We are withdrawing our funding for this production,” Bank of America added.
The President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted, “I wonder how much of this ‘art’ is funded by taxpayers? Serious question, when does ‘art’ become political speech & does that change things?”
In a statement posted to its website, the Public Theater – using the hashtag “We Are One Public” – says it stands behind its production of Julius Caesar.
“We understand and respect the right of our sponsors and supporters to allocate their funding in line with their own values,” the organization wrote.
“We recognize that our interpretation of the play has provoked heated discussion,” it continued. “[…] Such discussion is exactly the goal of our civically-engaged theater; this disclosure is the basis of a healthy democracy.”