The Public Theater defends ‘Julius Caesar’ backlash with fire statement about the role of theater
It’s been a rough day for artistic expression.
After The Public Theater — the New York City not-for-profit arts organization responsible for producing Shakespeare in the Park — chose to dress its Julius Caesar in a blonde wig and a large tie — similar to America’s very own president — conservative Trump fans took great offense (catch up on the controversy here).
In lieu of the unconventional Julius Caesar portrayal, on Monday morning, reports surfaced that Delta and Bank of America were pulling their funding for the theater, and since then, the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) has also distanced itself.
Despite the backlash from many including Donald Trump Jr., The Public Theater released a statement defending its production.
In the statement provided to Mashable, the Public Theater explained that it stands “completely behind” the production.
“We stand completely behind our production of Julius Caesar. We recognize that our interpretation of the play has provoked heated discussion; audiences, sponsors and supporters have expressed varying viewpoints and opinions. Such discussion is exactly the goal of our civically-engaged theater; this discourse is the basis of a healthy democracy. Our production of Julius Caesar in no way advocates violence towards anyone. Shakespeare’s play, and our production, make the opposite point: those who attempt to defend democracy by undemocratic means pay a terrible price and destroy the very thing they are fighting to save. For over 400 years, Shakespeare’s play has told this story and we are proud to be telling it again in Central Park.”
On Monday afternoon, the Public Theater’s official Twitter account also tweeted a statement of gratitude for those standing by the production and offering support.
In the midst of the political backlash, the National Endowment for the Arts released a statement on its website likely to get ahead of internet outrage.
“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,” the NEA wrote.
“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.”
Though the NEA announced no taxpayer dollars would go to support Shakespeare in the Park’s production, as Trump’s son would have wanted, there’s no denying that the president was once a fan of Julius Caesar.
Over the years he’s tweeted several quotes from the classic Shakespeare play. Hmm.
“Cowards die many times before their actual deaths.” —Caesar
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2012
Mashable reached out to The Public Theater for additional comment.