First, it was Kathy Griffin's brutal depiction of herself holding a bloody severed head of President Donald Trump; now New York's Shakespeare in the Park is casting Trump as Julius Caesar and depicting his assassination onstage.
Laura Sheaffer, national sales manager at Salem Radio Network, described the performance on "The Joe Piscopo Show," saying she found the performance disrespectful, regardless of one's feelings toward the president, and said it was not the sort of thing that would have flown if previous White House residents had been the target.
Sheaffer said she attends at least one performance of Shakespeare in the Park every summer and got in line to get free tickets to the first performance May 23. She said she had no inkling the play would not be a straight performance of Shakespeare's classic, but noticed when she arrived the scene looked very "American" with pictures of Abraham Lincoln and others and the backdrop looked like modern-day New York City.
She could tell the play would have a modern take even before the actor playing Caesar appeared "dressed in a business suit, with a royal blue tie, hanging a couple inches below the belt line, with reddish-blonde hair — just like Trump," she told Mediaite.
The script was kept unaltered, but the Trump take was "blatantly obvious," she said, noting Caesar's wife Calpurnia spoke with a Slavic accent, just like first lady Melania Trump.
In the scene where members of the Roman Senate stab Caesar to death, "blood was spewing everywhere out of his body," Sheaffer said. "To be honest, I thought it was shocking and distasteful."
Even before the gory murder scene, Caesar steps out of a bathtub naked. Sheaffer said she was aware there would be nudity in the play, but found it disrespectful it was the president of the United States who was depicted naked.
But she said she felt in the minority, telling Piscopo most in the New York crowd "accepted it."
When Marc Anthony celebrates Brutus' bravery in taking part in the killing, "The message it sent was that if you don't support the president, it's OK to assassinate him," she said.
"I don't love President Trump, but he's the president," Sheaffer said. "You can't assassinate him on a stage."
Playbill reported the play officially opens June 12 and runs through June 18 at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. It is directed by Oskar Eustis, and stars include John Douglas Thompson and Corey Stoll of "House of Cards."
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