NYC The­ater re­fuses to buckle af­ter Trump crit­i­cism

The Jewish Voice - - NEWS IN REVIEW -

(VIN) The knives are out for a new edgy pro­duc­tion of “Julius Cae­sar” that’s cut­ting a lit­tle too close to home for some fans of the White House.

Delta Air Lines and Bank of Amer­ica have pulled their spon­sor­ship of The Pub­lic Th ater’s ver­sion of “Julius Cae­sar” that por­trays a Don­ald Trump-like dic­ta­tor in a busi­ness suit with a long tie who gets knifed to death on­stage.

The Pub­lic re­fused to back down on Mon­day, say­ing in a state­ment that it stands “com­pletely be­hind” the pro­duc­tion. It noted that its stag­ing has “pro­voked heated dis­cus­sion” but that “such dis­cus­sion is ex­actly the goal of our civi­cally-en­gaged the­ater; this dis­course is the ba­sis of a healthy democ­racy.”

Other de­fend­ers in­cluded Scott M. Stringer, the New York City comptroller, who sar­cas­ti­cally tweeted to both Delta and Band of Amer­ica: “What a mis­take. Ac­tu­ally read­ing Julius Cae­sar might help in the fu­ture. Your copy is in the mail.”

This mod­ern-day Cae­sar’s vi­o­lent death at the hands of con­spir­a­tors comes not long af­ter co­me­dian Kathy Griffi was widely con­demned for pos­ing for a graph in which she gripped a blood­ied ren­der­ing of Trump’s head.

Th ugh the Pub­lic’s ver­sion of Wil­liam Shake­speare’s clas­sic play is un­changed from its 400-yearold orig­i­nal, the pro­duc­tion por­trays Cae­sar with a gold bath­tub and a pouty Slavic wife. Trump’s name is never men­tioned but back­lash was swift

On Sun­day, Don­ald Trump Jr. retweeted a Fox News story about the play and wrote, “I won­der how much of this ‘art’ is funded by tax­pay­ers? Se­ri­ous ques­tion, when does ‘art’ be­come po­lit­i­cal speech & does that change things?”

Delta re­sponded by say­ing “artis­tic and cre­ative di­rec­tion crossed the line on the stan­dards of good taste.” Amer­i­can Ex­press said it was not pulling fund­ing but in a state­ment Mon­day said, “we do not con­done this in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the play.”

Bank of Amer­ica claimed it was bam­boo­zled. It said the Pub­lic chose to present the play “to pro­voke and of­fend” with­out the bank’s knowl­edge: “Had this in­ten­tion been made known to us, we would have de­cided not to spon­sor it.”

“Julius Cae­sar” ends its run Sun­day. The com­edy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” be­gins in the park on July 11 un­der the di­rec­tion of Lear deBes­sonet.

In this May 21, 2017 pro­vided by The Pub­lic The­ater, Tina Benko, left, por­trays Me­la­nia Trump and Gregg Henry, cen­ter left, por­trays Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in the role of Julius Cae­sar dur­ing a dress re­hearsal.

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