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Just hours before the theater world gathered for the annual Tony Awards, Delta Air Lines revoked its four-year-old sponsorship of New York’s Public Theater, according to reports. The airline found issue with the summer production of Julius Caesar, featuring the assassination of the title character, who in this staging bears an unmistakable resemblance to President Donald Trump.
“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,” Delta spokeswoman Ashton Morrow said Sunday in a statement. “Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste.”
Delta also reportedly told The Public Theater its decision is effective immediately.
Later on Sunday, Bank of America also pulled its support of the Public Theater, bringing to an end an 11-year relationship. A Bank of America spokesperson told New York’s Daily News: “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.”
The play, which is being staged by the Public’s artistic director Oskar Eustis and runs through June 18 at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park, features characters in contemporary costumes and such unconventional casting as Elizabeth Marvel in the key male role of Marc Antony. The chief talking point, however, has been its portrayal of Caesar, played by Gregg Henry, who sports yellowish blonde hair, a Trump-style suit and an extra-long red tie, with his wife Calpurnia styled as a sleek Slavic beauty. The play features the title character’s bloody assassination.
“Donald Trump has been president for less than a year,” wrote The Hollywood Reporter theater critic Frank Scheck in his review. “But using him to make satirical points has already become cliche.”
The news follows on the heels of comedian Kathy Griffin posing with a fake, bloody likeness of President Trump’s head. She has since apologized for the photos, although CNN ultimately decided to cut the comedian from its annual New Year’s Eve special with Anderson Cooper.
A representative for The Public Theater did not immediately respond to THR‘s request for comment.
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