Advertisers Fleeing 'Shakespeare in the Park' After Portrayal of Trump-Like Julius Caesar
Delta Airlines and Bank of America have severed ties after the modern take on the classic production.
Delta Airlines and Bank of America have yanked financial support of Julius Caesar in Manhattan's Central Park after the lead character appeared to closely resemble the president of the United States.
The free play is produced by The Public Theater. It has been staged in the park since last month and its run ends later in June.
The Trump connections are there for everyone to see, including an unbuttoned overcoat and long red tie that hangs over his waist.
"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,” Delta said in a statement. “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.”
Bank of America says the company was caught by surprise over how the classic play by Shakespeare would be restaged with a Trump theme.
"Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it," the bank said.
The New York Times is also a sponsor of the production, but has decided not to cut ties.
"As an institution that believes in free speech for the arts as well as the media, we support the right to stage the production as they chose,” they said in a statement.
Despite the backlash, The Public Theater told The Associated Press that it stands "completely behind" the play, adding, “Such discussion is exactly the goal of our civically engaged theater; this discourse is the basis of a healthy democracy.”
Some critics have expected other companies to pull their support.
"Corporations like to sponsor things that are uplifting and artistic, the way in which Julius Caesar was perverted for political purposes," Howie Kurtz, the host of Fox News' Media Buzz, told Inside Edition. "I am surprised more companies haven’t run in the other direction.
"You have to have such a warped view and be so antagonistic toward this president that you can put him on a stage with someone looking like him with the orange hair and the red tie and have someone stab him to death, and to try to sell that as art. I’m sorry — it just does not even pass the smell test."
The sponsors pulled their support Sunday amid uproar from folks who have seen and heard about the play.
On Sunday, Donald Trump Jr. blasted the production on Twitter.
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/JfOmLLBJCnJune 11, 2017
Director Oskar Eustis previously told Playbill that he chose to open the summer season with Julius Caesar as of November 9, 2016,” the day after Election Day.
“Julius Caesar can be read as a warning parable to those who try to fight for democracy by undemocratic means," Eustis said in a statement on the play’s website. "To fight the tyrant does not mean imitating him."
The play's climax comes with Caesar's stabbing death at the hands of his best friend, Brutus, and the performance does not hold back on the violence, as shown in the video obtained by Inside Edition.
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