by Fox News
FILE – In this May 21, 2017, file photo provided by The Public Theater, Tina Benko, left, portrays Melania Trump in the role of Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia, and Gregg Henry, center left, portrays President Donald Trump in the role of Julius Caesar during a dress rehearsal of The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar in New York. (Joan Marcus/The Public Theater via AP)
Delta Air Lines and Bank of America became the first companies to announce that they are pulling their sponsorships of a Manhattan-based theater company’s portrayal of Julius Caesar as a Donald Trump look-alike in a business suit who gets stabbed to death on stage.
Delta and Bank of America both announced their intentions on Sunday.
“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,” the company’s statement said. “Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste.”
Bank of America added it was withdrawing funding for the production.
“The Public Theater chose to present Julius Caesar in such a way that was intended to provoke and offend,” the bank said in a tweet. “Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it.”
Performances at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater began in late May, just days before comedian Kathy Griffin was condemned for posing for a photograph with a bloodied rendering of Trump’s head.
Oskar Eustis, the Public Theater’s artistic director who also directed the play, said earlier in a statement that “anyone seeing our production of ‘Julius Caesar’ will realize it in no way advocates violence towards anyone.”
“Julius Caesar” tells a fictionalized story of a powerful, popular Roman leader who is assassinated by senators who fear he is becoming a tyrant. It is set in ancient Rome, but many productions have costumed the characters in modern dress to give it a present-day connection.
The production runs through June 18.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.