It’s been more than 2,000 years since Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of Roman senators, and more than 400 years since William Shakespeare immortalized the dirty deed. The Bard’s Julius Caesar has been staged, adapted, and reinterpreted countless times since, and Caesar never manages to escape the blade. However, two major backers of New York’s Shakespeare in the Park have pulled their support for this year’s production of the play after complaints that this Caesar looks a little too similar to our current President.
CNN reports that both Delta and Bank of America dropped their sponsorship of the Public Theater in New York over the graphic nature of the modernized play.
The production, which follows the same synopsis as the original tragedy with Roman noblemen plotting to kill Caesar and the consequences of that action, has been updated to feature modern amenities, dress, a Caesar with blonde hair, and a wife with a Slavic accent.
The play, which has been in previews, is slated to officially open at New York’s Delacorte Theater in Central Park today, but will be doing so without at least two of its sponsors.
Delta notified the Public Theater that it was pulling funds for the contemporary take on the classic.
“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,” a spokesperson for Delta tells CNN. “Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste.”
The company provided similar statements to Twitter users who commented on the sponsorship change.
Bank of America issued a similar statement over the weekend, announcing it would no longer support the production.
“The Public Theater chose to present ‘Julius Caesar’ in a way that was intended to provoke and offend,” Bank of America said in a statement on Twitter. “Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it. We are withdrawing our funding for this production.”
It is unclear if either company will provide support for other Public Theater productions this season. Consumerist has reached out for clarification on the matter.
The Public Theater is sponsored by nearly a dozen other organizations, none of which appear to have pulled funding from the production.
The National Endowment for the Arts — the federal program that provides grants to theaters, museums, and other arts programs around the country — says that no federal funding has been given to this production of Caesar.
“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,” reads a statement from the organization. “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.”