Delta Sponsored 2012 Guthrie Theater Season Which Featured Obama Inspired Julius Caesar

By: Jun. 12, 2017
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On Sunday night, Delta Air Lines announced that they were ending their four-year-old sponsorship agreement with The Public Theater over their current Shakespeare in the Park production of JULIUS CAESAR. The play, which is set to open at Central Park's Delacorte Theatre on Monday, depicts the Roman dictator in a way that calls to mind President Donald Trump.

While the 71st Annual Tony Awards were airing, Bank of America announced that it had joined Delta and pulled its sponsorship of The Public Theater as well.

BroadwayWorld has learned that in their 2012 season, during which Delta Airlines was a Business Circle sponsor - The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis presented an Obama inspired Julius Caesar co-produced with The Acting Company.

Though information on the level of financing Delta contributed for the year 2012 was unavailable, this year they donated between $100,000 and $249,000 to the Gurtrie Theater.

MSP Mag described the production in a review: "And, because Caesar is cast as a tall, lanky black man, the Obama inference is a bit too obvious. But it fits, sort of. Like Caesar, Obama rose to power on a tide of public goodwill; like Caesar, there were many in government who doubted Obama's leadership abilities; and now that Obama's first term has failed to live up to the messianic hype, there are plenty of people who-for the good of the country, you understand, not their own glory-want to take Obama down."

Twin Cities Daily Planet also made the Obama connection, writing "In this Caesar, Julius and his inner circle are dressed in crisp business suits, Bjorn DuPaty cutting an unmistakably Obama-like figure as the eponymous ruler."

This production would have also featured assassination of a figure resembling the current President of the United States.

A Guthrie representative told BroadwayWorld that "Delta was a season sponsor of our mainstage season that year; the support didn't include productions in the Dowling Studio, which is where JULIUS CAESAR was produced."

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On Sunday morning, video of the climactic assassination scene from The Public Theatre production triggered a media firestorm calling for boycotts of the revered theatre company. In the production, directed by Public Theatre Artistic Director Oskar Eustis, Caesar is played by stage and screen star Gregg Henry. The actor, known for playing billionaire Hollis Doyle on SCANDAL, a businessman who ran for president, portrays Caesar in a way that closely resembles the president. The fact that Caesar is assassinated immediately drew the ire of people on all sides of the political divide, while others defended the company's portrayal for artistic and freedom of speech reasons.

The Public Theatre has yet to comment on Delta's decision. BroadwayWorld will bring you more information when it becomes available.

Julius Caesar, Shakespeare's play of politics and power, was last seen in the Park 17 years ago. Rome's leader, Julius Caesar, is a force unlike any the city has seen. Magnetic, populist, irreverent, he seems bent on absolute power. A small band of patriots, devoted to the country's democratic traditions, must decide how to oppose him. Shakespeare's political masterpiece has never felt more contemporary.

The complete cast of Julius Caesar features Tina Benko (Calpurnia); Teagle F. Bougere (Casca); Yusef Bulos (Cinna the Poet); Eisa Davis (Decius Brutus); RoBert Gilbert (Octavius); Gregg Henry (Caesar); Edward James Hyland (Lepidus, Popilius); Nikki M. James (Portia); Christopher Livingston (Titinius, Cinna); Elizabeth Marvel (Antony); Chris Myers (Flavius, Messala, Ligarius); Marjan Neshat (Metullus Cimber); Corey Stoll (Marcus Brutus); John Douglas Thompson (Caius Cassius); and Natalie Woolams-Torres (Marullus). The non-equity company will include Isabel Arraiza (Publius Clitus); Erick Betancourt; Mayaa Boateng (Soothsayer); Motell Foster (Trebonius); Dash King; Tyler La Marr (Lucillius); Gideon McCarty; Nick Selting (Lucius, Strato); Alexander Shaw (Octavius' Servant); Michael Thatcher (Cobbler); and Justin Walker White (Pindarus).

JULIUS CAESAR features scenic design by David Rockwell; costume design by Paul Tazewell; lighting design by Kenneth Posner; sound design by Jessica Paz; original music and soundscapes by Bray Poor; and hair, wig, and makeup design by Leah J. Loukas.

Photo: William Sturdivant and Sid Solomon in Julius Caesar. Photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp.

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