New York’s venerated theater organization, the Public Theater, is facing a PR disaster over its long-running free “Shakespeare in the Park” series. The organization is mounting a production of Julius Caesar, which (spoiler alert!) ends with the Roman politician being assassinated. Many far-right online personas—including Donald Trump Jr.—consider this to be offensive given that Caesar appears Trump-like in this particular production. (It depicts him with blonde hair and modern attire.)
A flurry of online trolling and hysteria over the show has resulted in two corporate sponsors—Bank of America and Delta—cutting ties with the Public Theater. But not everyone is ready to cut and run. Today the New York Times, another corporate sponsor, confirmed to me that it will continue supporting the theater.
Here’s the Times’ statement:
“We have sponsored Shakespeare in the Park for 20 years. As an institution that believes in free speech for the arts as well as the media, we support the right of the Public Theater to stage the production as they chose.”
Hopefully Delta and BofA will read it and learn something. This entire ordeal is sad and annoying because, one, free speech exists so that theater organizations can put on “edgy” shows, and, two, this show is not edgy—it’s a William Shakespeare play where everyone already knows the ending.