Two corporate sponsors have pulled their support for a controversial New York Public Theater production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar that depicts Caesar as U.S. President Donald Trump.
Delta Air Lines and Bank of America acted amid criticism the play crosses a line in its depiction of the grisly assassination of the Trump-Caesar character.
“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 company said in a statement late Sunday.
“Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste,” the company continued. “We have notified them of our decision to end our sponsorship as the official airline of the Public Theater effective immediately.”
Soon after Delta’s announcement, Bank of America, a sponsor for 11 years, pulled its financial support for the play.
“The Public Theater chose to present Julius Caesar in a way that was intended to provoke and offend,” spokesman Susan Atran told the New York Times. “Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it. We are withdrawing our funding for this production.”
The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., also weighed in on Twitter questioning how the Public Theater is funded.
“I wonder how much of this "art" is funded by taxpayers?” he tweeted. “Serious question, when does ‘art’ become political speech & does that change things?”
In addition to Caesar made to look like Trump, the play includes a character who resembles First Lady Melania Trump.
The play is set to officially open Monday as part of the Public Theater’s free Shakespeare in the Park festival. It has been running in previews since May 23.
The controversy comes amid several scandals involving anti-Trump stunts, including comedian and CNN personality Kathy Griffin posing with a severed head that looked like Trump and a CNN contributor, Reza Aslan, using profanity to describe the president in a tweet. CNN severed ties with both.