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Does the Public Theater's Trump-like 'Julius Caesar' go too far?




Gregg Henry (center) portrays a Trump-like Julius Caesar.
Gregg Henry (center) portrays a Trump-like Julius Caesar.
Joan Marcus
Gregg Henry (center) portrays a Trump-like Julius Caesar.
A scene from New York Public Theater's "Julius Caesar."
Joan Marcus
Gregg Henry (center) portrays a Trump-like Julius Caesar.
The costumes and set design in Oskar Eustis' staging of "Julius Caesar" call to mind Donald Trump's America.
Joan Marcus
Gregg Henry (center) portrays a Trump-like Julius Caesar.
Two of the show's sponsors, Delta Airlines and Bank of America, withdrew funding as a result of the politically charged staging.
Joan Marcus


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There's a new adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” and not everyone’s happy about it.

Directed by Oskar Eustis, the play is part of the New York Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park series. Caesar — who is assassinated — is portrayed with the matching tie and hairstyle of the current president. It’s a move that has received criticism from conservative media outlets. And now some of the show’s sponsors, including Delta Airlines and Bank of America, have withdrawn funding.

It should be noted that in 2012, Delta Airlines sponsored a production of "Julius Caesar" where Caesar resembled then-President Obama without any outcry. 

Still, with a number of theater companies and playwrights offering criticism of the current administration, the question for production companies becomes: How far is too far

Jesse Green is co-chief theater critic for the New York Times. He reviewed Eustis’ “Julius Caesar." When Green spoke with The Frame's John Horn, he explained why Eustis' staging is not a call to assassinate the President. In fact, Green says to read it as such would be contrary to Shakespeare's intent. He says the play "suggests that that choice as a means of resistance is a disaster for democracy."

The Frame reached out to the Public Theater for comment earlier. Below is their response:

“We stand completely behind our production of Julius Caesar.  We recognize that our interpretation of the play has provoked heated discussion; audiences, sponsors and supporters have expressed varying viewpoints and opinions. Such discussion is exactly the goal of our civically-engaged theater; this discourse is the basis of a healthy democracy. Our production of Julius Caesar in no way advocates violence towards anyone. Shakespeare's play, and our production, make the opposite point: those who attempt to defend democracy by undemocratic means pay a terrible price and destroy the very thing they are fighting to save. For over 400 years, Shakespeare’s play has told this story and we are proud to be telling it again in Central Park.”



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