Over the weekend, a Shakespeare In The Park production of Julius Caesar in New York drew some controversy over the fact that its modern-day setting involved a very Donald Trump-esque figure getting stabbed to death. Fox News, a organization not known for being especially cultured or well-read, was appalled by the way the show seemed to be advocating for Trump’s assassination, and it managed to broadcast its disgust so loudly that longtime sponsors Delta Airlines and Bank Of America decided to pull their support for New York’s Public Theater—the company that produces Shakespeare In The Park.
The Public Theater isn’t backing down, though, and it has released a statement in which it explicitly refuses to apologize for any aspect of its Julius Caesar production. It notes that it’s a good thing that the show has “provoked heated discussion,” but it makes a point to underline the fact that anyone who thinks the play is promoting violence clearly has no idea what it’s about. You can read the full statement below.
The Public Theater stands completely behind our production of Julius Caesar. We understand and respect the right of our sponsors and supporters to allocate their funding in line with their own values. We recognize that our interpretation of the play has provoked heated discussion; audiences, sponsors and supporters have expressed varying viewpoints and opinions.
Such discussion is exactly the goal of our civically-engaged theater; this discourse is the basis of a healthy democracy. Our production of Julius Caesar in no way advocates violence towards anyone. Shakespeare’s play, and our production, make the opposite point: those who attempt to defend democracy by undemocratic means pay a terrible price and destroy the very thing they are fighting to save. For over 400 years, Shakespeare’s play has told this story and we are proud to be telling it again in Central Park.
You can find more information about The Public Theater at this link.