Companies pull sponsorship of Public Theater over Trump, 'Caesar' controversy

The Public Theater is standing by its now-controversial production of Julius Caesar, which has come under scrutiny for the Trump-like resemblance of the title character (spoiler alert: Caesar was assassinated by Roman senators).

Delta Air Lines and Bank of America, both sponsors of the play, pulled out over similarities between Shakespeare's Caesar - who is stabbed to death in the third act of the play - and Trump. "Such discussion is exactly the goal of our civically-engaged theater; this discourse is the basis of a healthy democracy".

Bank of America pulled its sponsorship soon afterward.

The agency in a statement said that, while it has previously provided grants to the New York Shakespeare festival, no funds this year went to the "Julius Caesar" production. Henry's Caesar is modeled nearly perfectly on Trump. The play is scheduled to be performed Monday during New York's annual free Shakespeare in the Park event in Central Park. Trump's name is never mentioned but backlash was swift.

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On Sunday, Donald Trump Jr. retweeted a Fox News story about the play and wrote, "I wonder how much of this "art" is funded by taxpayers? Serious question, when does "art" become political speech and does that change things?"

Delta responded by pulling its corporate support, saying the play's modern day spin "crossed the line on the standards of good taste".

"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". "We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support we have received around our free production of Julius Caesar", the statement read. The comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream" begins in the park on July 11 under the direction of Lear deBessonet.

Over the weekend, a Shakespeare In The Park production of Julius Caesar in NY drew some controversy over the fact that its modern-day setting involved a very Donald Trump-esque figure getting stabbed to death. Sponsors of the Guthrie Theater, including Delta, apparently had no objections when that show landed in Minneapolis.

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"Julius Caesar" ends its run Sunday.

It's had Trump in its sights before.

"Some of Trump's supporters have objected to the show, claiming it celebrates a fictionalized assassination of the president".

Delta wants "to be perceived as apolitical", said Americus Reed, a marketing professor at The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

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