AmEx Joins Brands Slamming Shakespeare in the Park's Caesar-as-Trump

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The new Shakespeare in the Park production of 'Julius Caesar.'
The new Shakespeare in the Park production of 'Julius Caesar.' Credit: Public Theater

American Express is the latest Public Theater sponsor to distance itself from a new Shakespeare in the Park portrayal of "Julius Caesar" that overtly depicts the Roman leader as Donald Trump.

A Trump look-alike, playing Caesar and dressed in a business suit and blonde hair, is stabbed to death in the third act. (Apologies for the spoiler, but you did have 400 years to read the play.)

AmEx posted its response to Twitter on Monday, saying its "sponsorship of the Public Theater does not fund the production of Shakespeare in the Park nor do we condone the interpretation of the Julius Caesar play."

That followed announcements Sunday by Bank of America and Delta Air Lines that they were each pulling sponsorships, Delta from The Public Theater as a whole and Bank of America from the "Julius Caesar" production in particular while continuing as a backer of Public Theater.

Delta's statement said the "artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste."

Hours later, Bank of America released its statement.

Bank of America has sponsored The Public Theater for 11 years, and plans to continue providing financial support -- just not for this production, The New York Times reported.

The play's assassination scene has drawn comparisons to the photo of Kathy Griffin holding a bloody Trump head, which got her fired from CNN's New Year's Eve broadcast.

Donald Trump Jr. took to Twitter to criticize the depiction and question the production's funding. "Serious question," he tweeted, "when does 'art' become political speech & does that change things?"

For publicly-traded companies, the answer is obvious -- quite fast.

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