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Trump Supporters Outraged Over Shakespeare In The Park

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CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

Shortly after the presidential election, Oskar Eustis, one of New York’s most successful theater executives, knew what he wanted to do. He would direct a production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” with the title character a provocative but inexact stand-in for President Trump.

Mr. Eustis was not alone. All over the country, from Oklahoma to Oregon, theaters have been staging “Julius Caesar” this year as a way to chew over politics, power, democracy and authoritarianism at a moment when a populist leader with a fondness for executive power has moved into the White House.

Most of the productions take place without incident, but Mr. Eustis’s, which opened Monday night in New York, has been engulfed in controversy ever since a bootleg video of the assassination of Caesar, who is styled and performed to suggest Mr. Trump, began circulating on the internet last week and some who had seen the performance started to complain.

[Read why “Julius Caesar” speaks to the politics of today.]

That prompted Mr. Eustis to devote his opening-night speech to a full-throated defense of the theater’s mission, which he urged audience members at the outdoor Delacorte Theater to record on their cellphones and share. “When we hold the mirror up to nature,” he said, “often what we reveal are disturbing, upsetting, provoking things. Thank God. That’s our job.”

A clash between Trump supporters and an iconic Manhattan arts institution over what kind of art is appropriate was perhaps inevitable in this hyperpartisan age. The proudly iconoclastic Public Theater is the birthplace of “Hair” (the Vietnam-era antiwar musical) and “Hamilton” (the hip-hop musical celebrating immigrants). And Mr. Eustis, the Public’s artistic director, is an unabashedly left-leaning theatermaker who believes in the value of provocative art.

Defenders of the production, including some theater critics, describe the Public’s “Julius Caesar” as nuanced, complex and loyal to Shakespeare’s text — a cautionary tale about the costs of political violence.

But the production is also explicit and graphic, featuring a blond, Trump-like Caesar in a red tie, whose bloody stabbing is seen as offensive and inappropriate to some who have seen it. They, along with Breitbart News and Fox News, have driven a campaign on social media against the Public that has prompted two corporate sponsors — Delta Air Lines and Bank of America — to withdraw their support of the production, and a third, American Express, to distance itself.

Continued in first comment:


Nasty Woman Power


by on Jun. 19, 2017 at 9:46 AM
Replies (11-17):
numbr1wmn
by Lina on Jun. 19, 2017 at 10:15 AM

I find it distasteful on any side whether it be Obama, Hillary or trump

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jun. 19, 2017 at 10:18 AM

The protests against free speech or the art?

Quoting numbr1wmn:

I find it distasteful on any side whether it be Obama, Hillary or trump


Nasty Woman Power


numbr1wmn
by Lina on Jun. 19, 2017 at 10:24 AM

THe play is distasteful.  THey can protest all they want.

Quoting NWP:

The protests against free speech or the art?

Quoting numbr1wmn:

I find it distasteful on any side whether it be Obama, Hillary or trump


goldpandora
by Bronze Member on Jun. 19, 2017 at 11:49 AM
1 mom liked this

Actually, Shakespeare has been interpreted in many different ways and in many different settings for many, many years. I once saw a version of "Hamlet" that was set in a mental asylum and where Ophelia was the head nurse ... :)

Quoting Rhodin: I didn't even know dressing Caesar like a sitting president was a thing until a few days ago. Usually, they dress him like an old Roman guy. People have been increasingly touchy about politics. Even if Hillary had won, they'd likely catch flack for making Caesar a woman.
Quoting NWP:

A couple of years ago the production dressed Caesar like Obama.

Don't they read books? This is SHAKSPEARE for God's Sake...

This kind of reminds me around the outrage by the far right of the Lorax kids movie a few years back....

Do they even know how old that book is?

Or that it was a book? 


Luvnlogic
by Platinum Member on Jun. 19, 2017 at 12:03 PM
Yep, the difference in reaction...and who is reacting...to these plays is quite telling. Once again it proves that there are folks of all stripes in every party.

Quoting NWP:

IDK. We can only go with experiences. Nobody protested when Ceasar was dressed like Obama.

The play was performed in contemporary dress. 

I will give you this though. For all the talk and complaints of "snowflakes" by the alt right, they sure get uncomfortable it they don't have their own safe-space. 

Quoting Rhodin: I didn't even know dressing Caesar like a sitting president was a thing until a few days ago. Usually, they dress him like an old Roman guy.

People have been increasingly touchy about politics. Even if Hillary had won, they'd likely catch flack for making Caesar a woman.

Quoting NWP:

A couple of years ago the production dressed Caesar like Obama.

Don't they read books? This is SHAKSPEARE for God's Sake...

This kind of reminds me around the outrage by the far right of the Lorax kids movie a few years back....

Do they even know how old that book is?

Or that it was a book? 

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jun. 19, 2017 at 12:11 PM

Yes. It does. 

Quoting Luvnlogic: Yep, the difference in reaction...and who is reacting...to these plays is quite telling. Once again it proves that there are folks of all stripes in every party.
Quoting NWP:

IDK. We can only go with experiences. Nobody protested when Ceasar was dressed like Obama.

The play was performed in contemporary dress. 

I will give you this though. For all the talk and complaints of "snowflakes" by the alt right, they sure get uncomfortable it they don't have their own safe-space. 

Quoting Rhodin: I didn't even know dressing Caesar like a sitting president was a thing until a few days ago. Usually, they dress him like an old Roman guy. People have been increasingly touchy about politics. Even if Hillary had won, they'd likely catch flack for making Caesar a woman.
Quoting NWP:

A couple of years ago the production dressed Caesar like Obama.

Don't they read books? This is SHAKSPEARE for God's Sake...

This kind of reminds me around the outrage by the far right of the Lorax kids movie a few years back....

Do they even know how old that book is?

Or that it was a book? 


Nasty Woman Power


KaleaLani
by Silver Member on Jun. 19, 2017 at 6:29 PM
Plays and books get reinterpreted all the time. Shakespeare is always being reworked to be relevant to the times: The Lion King / Hamlet, 10 Things I Hate About You / Taming of the Shrew, She's the Man / 12th Night, West Side Story/Romeo & Juliet...

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