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Delta, Bank of America withdraw funding from performance of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar over controversial portrayal of Trump

Delta Airlines and Bank of America have pulled funding from a controversial performance of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in New York City, in which the titular emperor is portrayed as a Trump-like figure, The New York Times reports. The corporate protest of the Public Theater's rendition in particular pertains to the play's famous assassination scene, which has been criticized by Fox News for "appear[ing] to depict President Trump being brutally stabbed to death by women and minorities" and was likened to Kathy Griffin's mock-beheading of the president by Breitbart News.

The play's defenders cite Shakespeare's text, claiming Julius Caesar in no way advocates for or celebrates political assassination. In The New York Times' review of the performance, the theater critic cautions attendees that "Shakespeare portrays the killing of Caesar by seven of his fellow senators as an unmitigated disaster for Rome, no matter how patriotic the intentions."

Delta Airlines nevertheless protested that "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 [the company's] values." Bank of America said: "The Public Theater chose to present Julius Caesar in a way that was intended to provoke and offend. Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it. We are withdrawing our funding for this production."

The play has been in previews since late May. It is scheduled to open Monday in Central Park.