Donald Trump Jr., President Donald Trump’s oldest son, re-tweeted a quote that links the Virginia shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise to the controversy over the Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park production of “Julius Caesar,” which depicts the assassination of a Trump-like Caesar.
“This,” Trump Jr. tweeted, linking to a tweet by political commentator Harlan Z. Hill which read, “Events like today are EXACTLY why we took issue with NY elites glorifying the assassination of our President.”
Hill’s tweet apparently refers to the Public’s “Julius Caesar,” which has stirred up controversy with an outdoor staging of the Shakespeare play that makes overt references to Trump and the current administration. Caesar sports blond hair and wears long ties, and his model-thin wife speaks with a Slovenian accent.
The onstage sequence that raised right-wing ire was the assassination, bloodily depicted as written in the original play. The outcry was loud enough to spur two Public Theater sponsors, Bank of America and Delta Air Lines, to pull their support for the production.
Reps for the organization said the Public Theater didn’t have a specific response to the tweet, but instead referred to a Monday statement that defended the show against accusations that it would incite violence.
“Our production of ‘Julius Caesar’ in no way advocates violence towards anyone,” the statement read. “Shakespeare’s play, and our production, make the opposite point: those who attempt to defend democracy by undemocratic means pay a terrible price and destroy the very thing they are fighting to save.” On Monday night the show opened with a curtain speech by Public Theater artistic director (and the director of “Julius Caesar”) Oskar Eustis, that also stood by the production.
“Julius Caesar” runs, as scheduled, only through Sunday, when it closes to make way for the next summer Shakespeare production in the park, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”