A “Shakespeare in the Park” production of Julius Caesar by the Public Theater features a mock assassination of a President Donald Trump lookalike. Public Theater is sponsored by none other than The New York Times.
The play, a contemporary update on the original, does not refer to the president by name — but their Caesar character holds a striking resemblance to Trump and his wife to the First Lady.
“Shakespeare’s political masterpiece has never felt more contemporary,” the Public Theatre wrote of the play on their website. They describe the updated Caesar character as a “magnetic, populist, irreverent,” who “seems bent on absolute power.”
During the play, the Caesar character appears on stage fully nude — as well as tweeting from a bathtub — before being stabbed to death by senators as an American Flag stands beside them.
Who do theater-goers have to thank for this Trump-centric work? Here’s a passage from the “Corporate Partners” page on the Public Theater website (emphasis added):
“The Public Theater has cultivated successful ongoing partnerships with several leading corporations including Bank of America, Delta Air Lines, The New York Times, American Express, and others. We offer sponsorship opportunities which enhance awareness and visibility of your brand, targeted activations, and provide opportunities for client entertainment, unique experiences and exciting benefits for employees. Year-round, season, or program-specific sponsorships can include a multitude of customizable benefits based on a corporation’s needs and initiatives. Whether it’s entertaining clients at Free Shakespeare in the Park…”
The New York Times did not return a request for comment for this report as of press time.
“I always go to Shakespeare in the park, but I wasn’t expecting to see this,” Laura Sheaffer, who saw the play on Saturday, told Mediaite. “To be honest I thought it was shocking and distasteful. If this had happened to any other president — even as recently as Barack Obama or George W. Bush — it would not have flown. People would have been horrified.”
“I mean it was the on-stage murder of the president of the United States,” Sheaffer said.
The play, which opened on May 23, was directed by Oskar Eustis and features stage actor John Douglas Thompson and House of Cards actor Corey Stoll.
“Julius Caesar can be read as a warning parable to those who try to fight for democracy by undemocratic means,” Eustis wrote in a statement featured on the Public Theater’s website. “To fight the tyrant does not mean imitating him.”
The New York Times has had an extremely contentious relationship with President Trump, who refers to the newspaper as the “failing New York Times.”
On Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey confirmed that they had published fake news about the president while claiming to have information from an anonymous source regarding contact between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials. “In the main, it was not true,” Comey said of their report.