Protesters Interrupt Trump-Inspired 'Julius Caesar' Theater Production
The production was accused of promoting violence against the right, as the contemporary take includes a bloody assassination of a main character modeled after the president.
On Friday, two protesters interrupted a controversial production of Julius Caesar, which is currently being staged by New York's Public Theater and features a Trump-like character in the role of Caesar.
"Stop the normalization of political violence against the right! This is unacceptable," one protester yelled as she walked toward the stage, according to video she posted to Periscope. Security was called as the second protester yelled at the crowd, calling them "Nazis" and accusing members of the crowd of being like Joseph Goebbels. A New York Police Department official confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that a 24-year-old female protester was arrested and is currently in custody with charges pending.
The play, which runs through Sunday at Central Park's Delacorte Theater, tells the story of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar but with contemporary costumes. Its main character, played by Gregg Henry, sports yellow hair, a Trump-style suit and a long red tie. This version of the play, directed by the Public Theater's artistic director, Oskar Eustis, includes the character's traditional assassination, but this time, it's the Trump figure who dies.
"Shame on Kathy Griffin, and shame on all of you for promoting political violence against Donald Trump," the female protester was heard yelling as she was led away. The two protesters posted their own videos of the event live online, and viewers in the audience captured the incident as well.
The Public Theater released a statement about the incident via Twitter: "While we are champions of the first amendment, this interruption unfortunately was part of a paid strategy driven by social media. Thank you to our staff and security who worked to peacefully remove them from the theater so we could continue with our evening of Free Shakespeare in the Park."
Earlier this evening, a pair of paid protestors briefly disrupted our performance of JULIUS CAESAR, as anticipated. (1/4)— The Public Theater (@PublicTheaterNY) June 17, 2017
While we are champions of the first amendment, this interruption unfortunately was part of a paid strategy driven by social media. (2/4)— The Public Theater (@PublicTheaterNY) June 17, 2017
Thank you to our staff and security who worked to peacefully remove them from the theater... (3/4)— The Public Theater (@PublicTheaterNY) June 17, 2017
...so we could continue with our evening of Free Shakespeare in the Park. (4/4)— The Public Theater (@PublicTheaterNY) June 17, 2017
Though Delta Air Lines and Bank of America this week pulled their sponsorship of New York's Public Theater because of the controversy surrounding the production, Actors' Equity Association remains supportive of the show.
Delta said that the play "crossed the line on the standards of good taste" and that the play "does not reflect Delta Air Lines' values," while Bank of America said it pulled its support as the play "was intended to provoke and offend," an intention that the company was not aware of.
Several Hollywood figures, including Beau Willimon, Carrie Coon and Amber Tamblyn, have voiced their support for the play. American Express distanced itself from the production in a statement this week, but its sponsorship of the Public Theater remains in place.
Tonight's production of Julius Caesar interrupted by two protesters. One stormed the stage during assassination scene. pic.twitter.com/K6FWhm4hGG— Charlotte Alter (@CharlotteAlter) June 17, 2017
At Julius Caesar, 2 protesters interrupt the show pic.twitter.com/ZyvyHl5jFZ— Mark Chiusano (@mjchiusano) June 17, 2017