NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Delta Airlines and Bank of America are backing out of Shakespeare in the Park over the use of a Trump lookalike in the production of “Julius Caesar.”

A golden-haired Donald Trump lookalike wearing a long red tie and business suit portrays Caesar, who gets knifed to death on stage.

Delta released a statement saying the staging does not reflect its values and crossed the line on standards of good taste. Delta has dropped the theater altogether.

“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. Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste. We have notified them of our decision to end our sponsorship as the official airline of The Public Theater effective immediately,” Delta said.

Bank of America believes the production was intended to provoke and offend, and the company decided to withdraw its funding of the production — though it will still fund Public Theater.

Some people waiting in line for tickets outside The Delacorte Theater in Central Park believe it’s an overreaction.

“It’s Freedom of Speech. Do some people carry it a little too far? Maybe, but it still comes down to that,” one man said.

“I can’t fly Delta anymore,” one woman said. “Theater is an incredible medium that does a lot of things, social commentary is one of them.”

“This is an art form and people have the right to free speech and people have the right to dress the character the way they please,” another man said. “For years now I’m sure many productions of ‘Julius Caesar’ have had some sort of reference to what’s going on in the world.”

“I think they should have some courage, it’s a play, it’s fiction, it’s not an instruction manual,” a man named George said.

But some other theatergoers said such a political message does not belong in a public Shakespeare play.

“Yeah, you can make a case for free speech, but I don’t think people are expecting to come here — people who want to have a political statement about Donald Trump have other places they can do that,” Anne Yoakamellsworth told CBS2’s Emily Smith.

“To take a current president and spoof it? Interesting,” said Rosemary Yoakamellsworth. “I guess there are different views about that.”

Tom is a donor and a regular at Shakespeare in the Park. He said he’s skipping the play.

“Interpretation is one thing, we’re talking about the demonstration of the killing of a sitting U.S. president, that’s not an interpretation that’s just wrong,” Tom said. “In principle it’s wrong and it’s wrong for my children to see.”

In recent days, criticism grew among conservative outlets.

“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. 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,” the Public Theater said in a statement. “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.”

Pop culture and brand expert Adam Hanft said from a public relations standpoint, Delta and Bank of America did what they had to do.

“I think that what Delta and Bank of America did was sort of inevitable. I think many corporations faced with that decision would have taken that path, and I think that the short-term and long-term consequences will be probably minimal. I don’t see any profound implications to them,” Hanft said. “Some people will object to the short-term. Some people may say that they’re suppressing free speech and so on. But I think that from a corporate point-of-view, they did the right thing.”

The famed Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis staged “Julius Caesar” with a character appearing like President Barack Obama. Delta funds the Guthrie.

The play’s director, Oskar Eustis, would not go on camera. But he wrote publicly that Shakespeare’s play does not support assassination — rather, it is a warning for those who try to fight democracy by undemocratic means.

Eustis addressed the issue before the debut performance Monday night.

History buff Charles Fleisher said it is important to note some differences.

“Julius Caesar wasn’t elected,” Fleisher said. “He brought an army into Rome and took over.”

The Public Theater tweeted a response saying in part that the “clash of opposing views leads to the truth” and that they will remain “of, by, and for the people.”

The Monday night performance was sold out.

Comments (71)
  1. Hope they run the play about the half breed African American President who was a closet Muslim terrorist and socialist who nearly crippled the country, and dies at the end by castration and lynching.

    Art speaks with ferocious truth!

    1. Other than style exactly how does this murder of an elected president differ from Kathy Griffin’s execution of the president?

  2. Kel Kswd says:

    Zero respect for the office of President of the United States. They have the freedom to put on this production and yet the same mindless people and doing their best to supress freedom of speech in those they disagree with. Liberal logic equals insanity.

  3. John Dillon says:

    Keep making it easier for me to point out who the sick traitors are. You better pray there is no civil war because you sick people will be the first to go. Plus, all companies take note: if you start making everything political, your profits are going to plunge. It’s simple marketing 101. Only advertise to part of the population at your own peril. Stupid stupid.

  4. Kim A Kirk says:

    Who thinks this way? This is disgusting to all decent people.

  5. mrsugs says:

    The director Oskar of the play says it was a warning to those who fight Democracy by Undemocratic means. He must be directing this toward the lying media,Socialist Democratic Part who are doing anything to impeach and subvert a President of the United States of America. This so called producer is a fascist, anti American who is is openly trying to get a person to do harm to our legally elected President. This man should be denounced by all for this Undemocratic vision of hate he believes in.

  6. How about this, Julius Caesar looks like Muhammad? Try that you courageous thespians.

  7. Very cutting edge, in a Bevis & Butthead sort of way.
    Heheheheh. Heheheheh. Hehehehe. He said … tRump …. Hehehe. Heheheheheh”

  8. As long as it fits the agenda of leftist communists it’s “freedom of speech” which the leftists have done away with on the Berkley campus, at Berkley the truth is “hate speech” and will not be tolerated! If this play was about Obama being assassinated people would be charged by the Secret Service and would be going to prison.

  9. Mike Angelo says:

    And yet, we have lost the entertainment of the Ringling Brother’s Circus due to liberal fanaticism.

  10. The producers and actors in this appalling “play” are sick and disturbed. How does it qualify as art? Art is supposed to inspire. This is intellectual and moral bankruptcy.

    “We stand completely behind our production of Julius Caesar.”

    That language is the contempt and vacuousness we can now expect from the Left in America. These pathetic people refuse to acknowledge the simple difference between right and wrong.

    What is the reaction if an actor as President Barack Obama is brutally killed as part of a Julius Caesar production? The response from the Left would be cacophonous.

    Chris Chichester
    Proprietor: Excelsior Page
    Founder: Empire Page
    Penfield, New York

  11. When the hell did liberals become vile and crass? Disgusting beyond words. If the situation were reversed libs would be calling us racists.

    1. Larry Jones says:

      During the Viet Nam war, when Democrats were spitting on soldiers in airports and other public places. Nothing has changed; Democrats are drawn from the lower segments of society.

  12. There was that Bush assassination movie back when Dumbya was President, and now, this. What is it with liberals and their glee about seeing Republican Presidents assassinated? Are they really that mentally twisted?

  13. This is no different from the rap songs that call for killing the police.

  14. John Jeffrey says:

    It is a truly poor allegory with the intended message in mind.

    Caesar was known as the People’s Dictator who was “draining the swamp” of the Roman Senate. Corrupt senators who were afraid to lose their power assassinated Caesar. He instituted measures of government accountability, and was a big jobs creator who had major support from the Roman people.

  15. Ford Hanson says:

    All you have to do with how the insane left is behaving right now, is replace Obama for all of the things being done about President Trump. They vilified a rodeo clown for wearing an Obama mask in his act. ( and this clown had worn all the presidents over time), he lost his job and was tried and hung in the left wing media. Now we get this play and Kathy Griffin and so many violent awful things. When is this going to end?

  16. Freedom of speech is NOT the issue. When you accept financial or any other kind of help or support from a benefactor, you are, by definition,obligated to respect the views and, if you will, the biases of your benefactor. If what you do with the money or support you are given is found to be offensive or “over the line” from your benefactor’s point of view, your benefactor is completely withing his rights to withdraw support for your venture. When governments do this, you are obligated to keep within the boundaries established by whatever law or agency provides you with your support. If you don’t want the government controlling what you say or do, then don’t go to the government for help. Similarly, the same is true in the exact same way for any kind of support.

  17. Neil Frank says:

    Bad taste is the norm for the “Artsy” Left. Someone needs to let them know that their sickness is not appreciated.

  18. From assassination to coup d tat and banana republic, it is stunning how low the socialist elites and degenerates running the Democratic Party will stoop.

  19. The great irony is that Julius was a “populist” . The Roman senate, much like our own, was a group of people who ALL thought they should be Caesar. The Roman Republic was already failed and decrepit. The Patricians were hoarding all of the money through patronage and crony capitalism and Julius was welcomed by the people. He promised them food and circuses.

    Democracy was just as ephemeral an idea then as it is today. Each has his own idea of democracy. Compare the version of Democracy as practiced by the GDR and the one expressed by the typical (clueless) US politician. The irony is the German one is closer to the truth/practice.

  20. This is like actor John Wilkes Booth staging assassination of President Lincoln before actually going ahead with it.

  21. John Wilson says:

    Who is still surprised at behavior like this from these psychologically damaged liberals?

    It’s exactly what you get with liberalism.

  22. On Monday night, with all the publicity, it was sold out. I wonder how it would do at regular broadway prices?

  23. Sam Dennis says:

    For those defending this crap as ‘Freedom of Speech’ – just be advised that no one is suggesting that the government take any action to stop the production nor is anyone questioning the right to say anything….the real issue is the 5th Amendment Right to Remain Silent ….the Producers would be smart to take advantage of that right.

    The point of objection is the phony use of their hatred of President Trump to make Shakespeare’s point. Again the leftist media refuses to comprehend that there are some common people who are negatively affected by violent playacting – to them this nonsense if an incitement. Try it next week with a Julius Hillary impersonator.

  24. Tom Thomason says:

    A Soros plant stood up and the Leftist lemmings joined in.

  25. Mike Arvand says:

    If this were portrayed with obama. the left would be calling for the assassination of the cast. If it were on clinton. The cast would suffer a graphic and public “mass suicide”

    hypocrites.

  26. Boise How says:

    just canceled my american express. do not want any part of their agenda

    1. Jay Williams says:

      Tito’s Vodka sponsors.

  27. Dean White says:

    The more libs who will now refuse to fly Delta because of their withdrawal will only make my next flight out of ATL more enjoyable…

  28. Robb Tipton says:

    I want to thank all those who participated and applauded this atrocity for your vicious insult to the citizens of this great nation. Please continue to insult us often and without reservation. Only through your repeated demonstration of vicious hatred toward so many of us who simply want to be left to our pursuits of happiness can we be awakened to your real threat to us. We’ve seen this kind of hatred before, manifested in the murders of millions who did not conform throughout history. And our founding fathers, with great wisdom, left us with the means necessary to defend our rights to pursue the happiness that the left so evidently wants to take away.

  29. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    Let’s ask people GOING TO THE PLAY what they think???????? Does CBS think we are all stupid?
    The are taking their personal time out to see what has already been reviewed and of course they know exactly what they are going to see. What a crap article!
    Bottom line – imagine this with OBAMA???? The NYTimes would be outraged and CNN would be head over heels with “RACISM”!!!
    MEMO TO MEDIA:
    Lest you think America is not paying full attention to your crass bias – we are well aware. And no longer do we view you as anything but biased. You feed the left – and disdain those of us on the right.
    Guess what – we know. To you we are the “deplorables”. We understand that is what you think of millions of us.
    And we react accordingly.

  30. Liberals hatred for Middle America is unbelievable. They do not get it, that Trump was elected because of Middle America. Now these liberals are attempting to achieve an administrative coup attempt on President Trump utilizing the FBI, special prosecutor, MSM media, Democrats, RINO Republicans, etc.

    The swamp need to be drained!

  31. “It’s Freedom of Speech. Do some people carry it a little too far? Maybe, but it still comes down to that,” one man said.” It would interesting to know this man’s thoughts if it was Obama being portrayed in the play? Some how I think liberals would find this so totally offensive that they would be screaming their heads off. Most of the time situations like this are more than art but a true political statements. We all know what the various nursery rhythms were directed at.

    1. Craig Book says:

      This is ok, but what ever you do, don’t let a rodeo clown wear an Obama mask.
      Do I need to note sarcasm?

      1. Don Stickney says:

        You remember that, too! Where were the outcries from the lamestream news media and the ‘tolerant and enlightened’ liberals when that guy was fired?! Where were the cries of “Freedom of speech” and “It’s just a performance”?!
        I’ll tell you where they were. They were the ones demanding he get fired for maligning their precious Dear Leader!

    2. Chris Dees says:

      When pushed too far, our right to freedom of speech eventually becomes criminal solicitation, a crime. We should all be appalled by the portrayal of at the assassination of a DULY ELECTED, SITTING PRESIDENT!!!

      When the MSM, DNC, Hollywood, or any .GOV agency comes up with REAL PROOF OF EVIDENCE of Trump’s Illegal wrongdoing I’m ready to listen. Until then let him do his job. You don’t go rabid when a public figure is just a arrogant jerk and a buffoon. Get over snowflakes, you’re being used!

  32. Bill Wright says:

    When will Current Western Civilization Theater and other Arts have the civilization preserving guts, knowledge and morality to portray for its Citizens and the world the true nature and history of Mohammed “The Perfect Man” to alert us, espectially New York Liberals and Main Stream Media types, to the “Perfect Abomination of Man?” When?

  33. Robb Tipton says:

    How would the liberals react to a play that showed one of their own being lynched? We are past that type of grotesque behavior. I guess they aren’t.

  34. Boycott whoever keeps funding this atrocity. Starting with Amex.

    1. Jay Williams says:

      Tito’s Vodka showed up as a sponsor on the theater website yesterday, but now the site took down the pics. I’m guessing they’re covering for the sponsors and letting them lay-low. TOO LATE. Tito’s has not responded to inquiry.

  35. It’s really remarkable how derenged liberals and Democrats have become since they didn’t get their way last election…

    1. Robb Tipton says:

      They were put out of the money laundering business by the people who were watching their money being stolen and laundered. Now they face the consequences which will unfold over the next few months and years. Their resistance movement is the result of living in the scene of the crime, not fleeing it. That is how much they think they own us.

  36. Alex Eucare says:

    YO LIBTARDS…..Stay in Your BUBBLE !

    When Can We Expect to See the YO-BAMA & SHILLARY Assassinations…..PLAY !

  37. John Beball says:

    If they didn’t have the balls to perform this play using Obama as Caesar, then they are posers.

  38. One day, Progressives are going to learn that their hatred of Normal People is going to result in some measure of reciprocity. And we have guns.

  39. First there is the “comedienne” holding the decapitated head of President Trump… in the name of comedy. And now a play showing the assassination of a President Trump look-alike. How would those who support this type of “art” have reacted to “art” that depicted the lynching of President Obama?

    Sure, it’s free speech; but it’s classless and worthless.

  40. The same people who are so approving of this play were apoplectic during the last administration when a rodeo clown wore an Obama mask.

  41. Viv Hawbaker says:

    Try substituting Obama or Hillary in place of Trump and then listen to what is said!!!

  42. Ah, yes, the philistine “actors” and “artists”—who wouldn’t know genuine art if it sat on their heads! This is what happens when frauds, poseurs, and wannabes (of which NYC is so tiresomely full) decide to do something artistic. How about taking on antisemitic, anti-gay, anti-woman, Sharia law instead of one of the few people who seems determined to prevent its infecting the West? Now THAT would take talent and courage and mean something for cultural advancement!

  43. Willam Nat says:

    So, some people won’t fly Delta anymore because the company won’t sponsor a play that shows the current president of the United States being brutally murdered.

  44. Perhaps the time has come to make a play about killing x-president Obama and sitting democrat members of Congress….. maybe one about killing liberal supreme court justices for good measure….. wonder how many people would come out to support it.

  45. Good job Delta, BOA!

    Watching Donald Trump cause the complete meltdown of Hollywood and destruction of the political dynasties on both sides, along with turning the mainstream media into nothing more than a glorified National Enquirer, has been the greatest political event of my life so far.

    On November 8th 2016, proud patriots like myself took our country back from the controlling elite class. We wanted our jobs back and our taxes lowered. We couldn’t afford to buy a home or health insurance.

    My tax rate is 40% and my healthcare is now $700 per month thanks to Obamacare. My car insurance is still just $25/month (thanks to Insurance Panda), but if you look at Democrat strongholds like Detroit and New Orleans, where car insurance will run you $300+ per month, it’s easy to be pessimistic about the future of the United Socialist States of America.

    With Trump, we have somebody who is finally fighting for us. It’s been a long time since we had a President who cared about our country. We are revolting against our Democrat/Socialist over-lords. And it feels good 🙂

  46. Sam Hensley says:

    The same people who defend this play are the very same people who would be in the streets demonstrating and rioting if the likeness on stage was Obama being lynched. Liberals are the most hypocritical people on earth.

  47. These individuals would delight in seeing our president assassinated their hatred has of him has impaired their ability to think

  48. Del Varner says:

    Perhaps they should do “Macbeth” and have Lady Macbeth look like Hillary Clinton

  49. Bill Loyal says:

    Hmm sounds like its time for a “shut it down” riot in the middle of the show. I mean if the left can do it so can we right? Right?

  50. This is sick, morbid, gross…….What in the world is becoming of our country? You got Kathy Griffin fantasizing about beheading the President and now a play where they are pretending that they are violently assassinating him. This is really sick. Please people knock it off. What are we teaching our children? To hate…to kill……If you don’t like the President , then fine. Next election get out and vote, but please just stop with the hatred. Nothing good will come from it. And who in the world would even want to watch this is beyond me…smh…

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