The National Endowment for the Arts said on Monday that no public funds were spent on the Public Theater’s production of “Julius Caesar,” featuring a facsimile of Donald Trump.
“In the past, the New York Shakespeare Festival has received project-based NEA grants to support performances of Shakespeare in the Park by the Public Theater,” the organization said in a statement. “However, no NEA funds have been awarded to support this summer’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar and there are no NEA funds supporting the New York State Council on the Arts’ grant to Public Theater or its performances.”
Directed by Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis, the Shakespeare in the Park production began performances on May 23 and officially opened on Monday. The show made headlines when Delta Airlines and Bank of America both announced that they would be pulling their sponsorship of the show due to its subject matter.
“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 its four-year-old sponsorship.
“The Public Theater chose to present Julius Caesar in a way that was intended to provoke and offend,” a Bank of America 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 productions stars Gregg Henry as the title character, rendered as a stand-in for the president, complete with blond hair, an overlong necktie and a tendency toward verbal bluster. 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.