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Companies pull sponsorship of Public Theater over Trump, 'Caesar' controversy

22 June 2017

Though Delta Airlines made headlines Sunday after pulling funding from a NY theater company over its decision to depict assassinated Roman tyrant Julius Caesar as current U.S. President Donald Trump, the airline did not pull its sponsorship from another theater that also depicted a grisly demise for a sitting president in the exact same role in the exact same play.

The production of William Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" running at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, in which a Trump-like Caesar is assassinated, "does not reflect Delta Air Lines' values", the former official airline of the theater said in a series of tweets.

- Delta (@Delta) June 12, 2017.the standards of good taste.

Bank of America, one of The Public Theaters's dozen corporate sponsors, offered similar reasoning.

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The Public Theater did not respond to request for comment, but in an email to patrons, said that it stands "completely" behind the production and recognizes that its "interpretation of the play has provoked heated discussion; audiences, sponsors and supporters have expressed varying viewpoints and opinions".

The play traditionally follows the story of Roman politician Julius Caesar, who was betrayed and brutally murdered by his political allies who believed their leader was verging on dictatorship.

The contemporary take on Julius Caesar has him dressed in a suit and tie who vaguely resembles Trump.

Directed by Oskar Eustis, the play is part of the New York Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park series. Comedian Kathy Griffin recently learned the hard way that depicting the death of a USA president isn't amusing and is a not a sponsor magnet for actors or comedians.

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In a statement to WPIX 11, he said "anyone seeing our production of "Julius Caesar" will realize it in no way advocates violence towards anyone".

Bank of America pulled its sponsorship soon afterward. Of course, the problem being - as anyone familiar with Shakespeare's 16th century tragedy can tell you - is that the play ends with the Caesar's brutal assassination.

The New York Daily News said the production "imagines the Roman ruler as a blond, swaggering, egotist who's a dead ringer for the current occupant of the Oval Office". As of now, only two corporations have backed out of supporting the play or the Public Theater.

Trump's son, Donald Trump, Jr., tweeted about the play, writing, "I wonder how much of this "art" is funded by taxpayers?"

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Companies pull sponsorship of Public Theater over Trump, 'Caesar' controversy