Delta Airlines and Bank of America on Sunday withdrew their sponsorship of New York City’s nonprofit Public Theater over a new Shakespeare in the Park production of “Julius Caesar” featuring a facsimile of Donald Trump in the title role meeting a very bloody end.
“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,” Delta said in a statement, ending a four-year-old sponsorship.
“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.”
Bank of America also pulled its support from this Public Theater production. “The Public Theater chose to present Julius Caesar in a way that was intended to provoke and offend,” a bank spokesperson said in a statement obtained by TheWrap. “Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it.”
The bank, which has sponsored the Public Theater for 11 years, has made no decision about future productions “for now,” the spokeswoman noted.
A rep for the Public Theater did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
The production, directed by Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis, began performances on May 23 and is due to open officially on Monday — but it has drawn widespread attention for its ripped-from-the-headlines approach to the Bard’s tragedy.
Gregg Henry plays the title character as a Trump stand-in, complete with blond hair, an overlong necktie and a tendency toward verbal bluster — while blond and model-perfect Tina Benko uses a Slavic accent as his wife, Calpurnia.
And the assassination of Caesar — foretold by a soothsayer wearing an Anonymous-style Guy Fawkes mask — is a bloody climax of the production with lots of stage blood deployed.
The production follows the widespread outcry over comedian Kathy Griffin’s photo shoot in which she posed with a bloody decapitated Trump head — a provocation for which she later apologized.
She also lost her longstanding New Year’s