New York’s Public Theater lost sponsorship from two high-profile corporate donors, Delta Air Lines and Bank of America, on Sunday after intense criticism of its production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” which portrayed the assassination of a Trump-like Roman ruler.
The news came after days of criticism online and in right-leaning media outlets that were amplified by Donald Trump Jr., a son of the president, who appeared to call into question the theater’s funding sources on Twitter on Sunday morning. Later on, both corporations had distanced themselves from the production.
“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 said in a statement on Sunday night.
“Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste,” the company said. “We have notified them of our decision to end our sponsorship as the official airline of the Public Theater effective immediately.”
Bank of America followed hours later, saying it would withdraw financial support from the production of “Julius Caesar” but would not end its financial relationship with the theater, which a spokeswoman, Susan Atran said.
“The Public Theater chose to present ‘Julius Caesar’ in a way that was intended to provoke and offend,” Ms. Atran said. “Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it. We are withdrawing our funding for this production.”
Last week, Breitbart, the far-right website formerly run by the White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon, compared the play to the controversial online photo that showed the comedian Kathy Griffin holding a severed head that resembled the president. (Ms. Griffin was fired as co-host of CNN’s New Year’s Eve program over the incident.)
But the play’s treatment of Caesar’s grisly assassination has also been questioned by theater critics, including Jesse Green of The New York Times. In his review, he wrote that the depiction of a Trump-like Caesar’s “bare, wound-ripped flesh” — something not called for in the original text — may make viewers wonder, “Has it gone too far?”
Criticism of the play reached a fever pitch on Sunday when Fox News reported that it “appears to depict President Trump being brutally stabbed to death by women and minorities.” Donald Trump Jr., a son of President Trump, joined in shortly after that report, seeming to question the theater’s funding sources.