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Artists, Activists Rally to Support New York’s Public Theater

An independent rally for New York’s Public Theater brought out a crowd of about 150 people in support of the organization that’s currently under fire for a controversial production of “Julius Caesar” that features a Trump-like Caesar.

Tony-winning actor Michael Cerveris (“Fun Home”) and monologuist Mike Daisey were among the attendees who addressed the crowd, which included actors, directors (among them Rachel Chavkin, director of Broadway’s “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812”), Public staff members, and other activists and supporters. Unaffiliated with the Public itself, organizers of the rally led chants and speeches at Astor Place in downtown Manhattan for about an hour, then finished with a short march down Lafayette Street to the theater.

“This rally is not just to speak up for the Public,” said Jesse Oxfeld, the writer and freelance theater critic who initiated the rally with director Shira Milikowsky and dramaturge-activist Jess Applebaum. “It’s to call out what happened over the weekend for what it was: propaganda and demagoguery.”

The Public’s Free Shakespeare in the Park staging of “Julius Caesar” sparked an outcry from conservatives after a “Fox & Friends” segment called attention to the show, which depicts the assassination of a Caesar who greatly resembles President Trump. The resultant online controversy prompted both Delta Air Lines and Bank of America to pull their funding from the production. Earlier Thursday, another funder, Time Warner, defended the Public at a shareholders meeting.

With the Public vowing in a statement (and reiterated at the show’s opening Monday) to stand by the show, “Julius Caesar” will end its limited run June 18 as scheduled, in order to make way for the incoming park production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

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