Production of Shakespeare epic in New Yorks Central Park shows a suited, blond-haired Caesar with a Slavic-accented wife dressed in designer clothes
Delta Air Lines and Bank of America have pulled their sponsorship of a Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar in New York over a portrayal of the assassinated Roman leader that resembles Donald Trump.
The contemporary staging of Shakespeares tragedy, by the nonprofit Public Theater, portrays Caesar as a blond-haired, powerful man wearing a business suit with an American flag pin, while his wife, Calpurnia, has a Slavic accent and dresses in designer fashions.
Shakespeares play focuses on the fatal stabbing of Caesar by former associates, and the subsequent fate of Romes political institutions.
Delta said in a statement on Sunday that the Public Theaters artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste.
No matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of Julius Caesar at this summers Free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines values, the statement said.
Bank of America later said it would withdraw financial support from the production alone, rather than the theatre itself. A spokeswoman, Susan Atran, said: The Public Theater chose to present Julius Caesar in a way that was intended to provoke and offend.
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 announcing the production in New Yorks Central Park earlier this year, the Public Theater said the play had never felt more contemporary and described the Roman leader as magnetic, populist, irreverent, he seems bent on absolute power.
The New York Times review on Friday said the depiction of a petulant, blondish Caesar in a blue suit, complete with gold bathtub and a pouty Slavic wife, takes onstage Trump-trolling to a startling new level.
The New York Daily News said the production imagines the Roman ruler as a blond, swaggering, egotist whos a dead ringer for the current occupant of the Oval Office. And he gets murdered for his hubris and hunger for power.
The Public Theater and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sunday.
The play opened on 23 May in previews and runs through to 18 June with an opening on Monday. It is the first time in 17 years the play has been staged at Central Parks Delacorte Theater.
Thousands of people line up every summer for free tickets for Shakespeare in the Park. More than five million have attended plays in Manhattans largest park in the festivals 60-year-history.
Other Public Theater sponsors, which include American Express and Bank of America, could not immediately be reached for comment.