Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, is one of the companies still sponsoring The Public Theater, a New York Shakespeare group that offers free tickets to anyone who wants to see President Trump assassinated in the group’s rendition of Julius Caesar.
The New York City government’s “Department of Cultural Affairs” also sponsors the theatre group. In this "Shakespeare in the Park" play, a man with unkempt blonde hair, a blue suit and red tie is married to a woman wearing designer outfits and speaking with a Slavic-like accent.
At the end of the play, the Trump/Caesar character is brutally stabbed to death in a lengthy assassination scene. The play's director, Oskar Eustis, calls the play a "contemporary" "WARNING PARABLE":
"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."
"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."
CNN host Fareed Zakaria, like his employer’s parent company, Time Warner, supports the play. Zakaria even went so far as to declare it a “masterpiece.”
“If you're in NYC, go see Julius Caesar, free in Central Park, brilliantly interpreted for Trump era. A masterpiece,” he tweeted at the end of May.
On Sunday, Delta Airlines and Bank of America both pulled their support from the company. “We do not condone this interpretation of Julius Caesar at this summer’s Free Shakespeare in the Park,” tweeted Delta. “We have notified them of our decision to end our sponsorship as the official airline of The Public Theater.”
Bank of America followed suit, tweeting a statement saying: “The Public Theater chose to present Julius Caesar in a way that was attended to provoke and offend" - adding that, if it had known of the play's content beforehand, it would never have sponored it:
Meanwhile, the Time Warner Foundation, American Express, and others continue to sponsor the Central Park theater group, though American Express has, reportedly, issued a statement distancing itself from the group.
Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. also took to Twitter to express their displeasure with the Shakespeare adaptation. “I wonder how much of this ‘art’ is funded by taxpayers,” tweeted Donald Jr. “Serious question, when does ‘art’ become political speech & does that change things?”
“Thank you Delta and Bank of America. This was the right thing to do,” said Eric Trump in a tweet.
The theatre group has been "assassinating" Trump since the play opened on May 23 - and will continue to kill the president until June 18.
“Julius Caesar is about how fragile democracy is. The institutions that we have grown up with, that we have inherited from the struggle of many generations of our ancestors, can be swept away in no time at all,” says the play’s artistic director Oskar Eutis on the company’s website.
As of publication of this piece, these organizations were still listed at sponsors. Contact information is provided for each:
- The Luesther T. Mertz Charitable Trust - Phone: (212) 777-5226
- Bank of America (WITHDRAWN)
- Blavatnik Family Foundation - Email: https://www.inc-cap.com/contact/
- The Harold and Mimi Steinberg New Play Development Fund - Phone: (212)- 758-0404
- The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation - Phone: (908) 755-2401
- Time Warner Foundation - Phone: (212)-484-8000
- American Express - Phone: 1 (800) 528-4800
- Delta (WITHDRAWN)
- New York (magazine) - Subscriber Phone: (800) 678-9000
- TheaterMania - Phone: (212) 352-0255
- Today Tix - Phone: (855) 464-9778
- NYC Culture Department - Phone: 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675)
- New York Council on the Arts - Phone: (212) 459-8800
- Art Works - Phone: (919) 831-0199
While not listed on The Public Theatre's (Phone: 212-539-8650) "Corporate Sponsors" webpage, The New York Times has publicly declared itself to be a sponsor - and vowed to continue funding the theater group. (Phone: 800-NYTIMES, (800) 698-4637)
See full, current list of Trump-Assassination play sponsors ONLINE here.
UPDATE: The Public Theater has pulled its sponsor list, but issued a defiant statement defending depiction of the president's assassination.