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Dramatists Legal Defense Fund Releases Statement on Trump-Themed JULIUS CAESAR

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Dramatists Legal Defense Fund Releases Statement on Trump-Themed JULIUS CAESAR Following news that two major sponsors, Delta Air Lines and Bank of America, had pulled financial support for The Public Theater in response to their Donald Trump-Themed Shakespeare in the Park production of JULIUS CAESAR, The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund has released the following statement:

"Yesterday, Delta Airlines and Bank of America announced their withdrawal of support and funding from The Public Theater and its production of Julius Caesar, currently running at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. After the production opened, Breitbart and other right-wing outlets on social media objectEd Loudly to the production's portrayal of Caesar as a Trump-like figure. In response to this interpretation of the character, Delta issued a statement yesterday that the production didn't reflect their "values," and the "artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste," and Bank of America stated that the production "intended to provoke or offend," as reasons for their withdrawal of support.

But good taste is a matter of opinion and an "intention to provoke" may be an integral part of a play's mission. The works of Shakespeare are replete with representations of regicide, and potentially objectionable and graphic violence of all sorts, but Delta doesn't appear to have had a problem with the "values" or "taste" of such depictions before. The fact is that, for hundreds of years, this particular play has been understood to be a critique of political violence, not an endorsement of it. As director Oskar Eustis explained, "Julius Caesar can be read as a warning parable to those who try to fight for democracy by undemocratic means. To fight the tyrant does not mean imitating him." So those criticizing this production for endorsing violence against President Trump seem to be willfully misinterpreting it, for their own political ends.

Delta and Bank of America are private corporations that are entitled to support or not support anything they choose. However, the withdrawal of significant financial resources from a theatrical institution based on the content of its work is an act of political bullying that endangers public debate of the critical issues of our day. So we condemn the actions of Delta Airlines and Bank of America for undermining free expression, and we support The Public Theater and its courage in moving forward with its production, despite the potential cost to their institution.

Signed,

John Weidman, President

Ralph Sevush, Executive Director

The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund."

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 will feature 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 will feature 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 Credit: Joan Marcus


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