We can all agree it’s been a strange year. We’re seeing headlines we NEVER thought we’d see. Case in point, we were pretty surprised when people started freaking out about New York’s Public Theater, and their production of the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar.
The outrage is coming from supporters of Donald Trump, who take offense how the play portrays Caesar. In this production, Caesar is an American politician with Trump-orange hair, a red tie, and the president’s signature costuming move, an unbuttoned coat.
The outrage has definitely had an effect. Both Delta Airlines and Bank of America have dropped their support for the production. This week, a performance was interrupted by protesters in Central Park.
And now, other American Shakespeare companies, even ones who aren’t performing Julius Caesar, are feeling the heat of this controversy.
As The Boston Globe reports, Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA has received about 40 misdirected messages of outrage. One letter sender informed the theater they hoped the staff experienced
“…the worst possible life you could have and hope you all get sick and die.”
Another message read:
“[H]ope you all who did this play about Trump are the first do [sic] die when ISIS COMES TO YOU [expletive] sumbags [sic]. “
Meanwhile Shakespeare Dallas reports receiving 80 such messages, including rape and death threats. One message-sender hoped the theater’s employees would be “…sent to ISIS to be killed with real knives.”
The Globe reports that New York Classical Theater and Shakespeare Theater Company in Washington D.C. have also received dozens of threatening messages.
So what’s up with the misplaced anger? Shakespeare Dallas’ artistic director Raphael Parry has a theory. As he told The Boston Globe:
“They’re just doing a general Google search. When you Google ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ in the Texas region, our name pops up first, and they just go to town.”
Meanwhile, Oskar Eustis, artistic director of the Public Theater, presented some sage words during a recent pres-how talk of Julius Caesar:
“Neither Shakespeare nor the Public Theater could possibly advocate violence as a solution to political problems, and certainly not assassination. This play, on the contrary, warns about what happens when you try to preserve democracy by nondemocratic means.”
It seems like this outrage is a mix of people not understanding Shakespeare and not understanding how to use Google. We don’t know which one makes us sadder.
But one thing is for sure, Shakespeare isn’t going anywhere, despite all these threats.
And we wouldn’t have it any other way.