It was a week of controversy for the Public Theater’s production of “Julius Caesar” in Central Park. It started with corporate backers Delta and Bank of America pulling their support on Monday; and on Friday, the production was interrupted not by expected rain but two protesters calling the actors and audience “Nazis.”
The controversy comes from the fact that the title character (murdered and avenged, as per history and Shakespeare) has been cast and costumed to look like President Donald Trump.
Just before Friday’s assassination scene right-wing activist Laura Loomer walked onto the stage shouting about the “normalization of political violence against the right.”
As security led her out, Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec also jumped up from his seat chanting “Goebbels would be proud.” He then added, “You are all Nazis.”
The actors recovered quickly though audience members were momentarily confused—much of the play features actors jumping up from the crowd and shouting their lines towards the stage.
As a play about the fall of a republic, confusion is often the name of the game.
Ironically, the protesters missed the more radical artistic choices of the production—Octavius, soon to be the first Roman emperor after Julius and the assassins are out of the picture, looks like Jared Kushner on his fateful visit to Iraq. And there is disturbing, intense warfare between actors-as-protesters and actors-as-police throughout the play’s second half.
But that all came later, by which time the protesters had been removed, their self-made videos tweeted around the web.
In the Delacorte Theater, a voice over the public address system pointedly intoned, “Actors please, let’s pick up with ‘liberty, freedom.’”