Delta Air Lines and Bank of America have pulled their sponsorship of a New York City production of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” that includes the bloody assassination of a leader resembling President Trump.
The play, currently showing at The Public Theater, was staged in Central Park on June 6, as part of this summer’s Free Shakespeare in the Park. The production’s assassination scene has drawn criticism from Fox News, Breitbart News and the president’s son Donald Trump Jr.
Delta Air Lines explained its decision in a statement on Twitter.
“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,” the airline tweeted on Monday. “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 also took to Twitter to announce that it was pulling its support of the production.
“The Public Theater chose to present ‘Julius Caesar’ in a way that was intended to provoke and offend,” the company tweeted on Sunday. “Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it. We are withdrawing our funding for this production.”
In The Public Theater’s modern twist on Shakespeare’s classic “Julius Caesar,” the titular character has blonde hair and wears a suit and long tie instead of a toga, according to CNN. Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia, speaks in a Slavic accent similar to that of First Lady Melania Trump.
In the original play, Caesar is assassinated because members of the Senate feared he had grown too powerful. His killing is not portrayed as a positive thing, however, instead warning of the dangers of using violence to solve political problems.
Oskar Eustis, The Public Theater’s artistic director who also directed the play, said in statement to the Associated Press that “anyone seeing our production of ‘Julius Caesar’ will realize it in no way advocates violence towards anyone.”
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Donald Trump Jr. tweeted about the controversial production on Sunday, pondering the line between “art” and “political speech.”
After Delta Air Lines and Bank of America withdrew its funding from the production, another of the president’s sons, Eric Trump, tweeted that it was “the right thing to do.”
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But others on Twitter criticized the companies for the move.
Actress Amber Tamblyn tweeted: “Going to the opening of @PublicTheaterNY JULIUS CAESAR tonight to support the arts unlike @Delta and @BankofAmerica . Shame on both of you.”
Journalist and author Mark Harris tweeted: “Corporate cowardice. Shame on @delta for capitulating to Fox and Breitbart’s calculated performative distress.”
And former first daughter Chelsea Clinton hinted that she didn’t think the production crossed the line.
In response to a Twitter user who said Clinton wouldn’t support a version of the play that depicted one of her parents, Bill and Hillary Clinton, as Caesar being assassinated, she wrote: “Would I see it? Probably not. Would I protest it or complain about it? Definitely not.”