Move over Kathy Griffin. It’s time for another bloody, fake Donald Trump to take center stage.
At The Delacorte Theater in Central Park in New York City, the annual summer Shakespeare in the Park kicked off with a “Trump-inspired” performance of Julius Caesar. Though none of the characters or story line was changed, one audience member said it was “blatantly obvious” that Julius Caesar was Donald Trump.
A sales manager for Salem Media, Laura Sheaffer, and her husband attended a recent performance and was shocked by what they saw. She appeared on Joe Piscopo’s morning radio show and described it:
“I notice that the stage is decorated America-theme, with, like, Abraham Lincoln on the backdrop — kind of modern New York background. So, I knew it was going to be different, but wasn’t sure what was going to happen.
“Next thing we know, the whole cast is dressed in business suits. Definitely a modern take on the play. And then, Julius Caesar was Donald Trump… I know this because his tie was navy blue, tied too long — a couple inches below the belt. He’s got the fluffy, blonde, reddish hair. It was Donald Trump!"
But that wasn’t the only resemblance, as Sheaffer explained:
“If you know the play, Calpurnia, the wife of Julius Caesar, has a dream the night before Julius is killed and she begs Julius, ‘Don’t go to the senate!’ … She is speaking in a Slavic accent — pretty, slender woman — clearly supposed to be an imitation of Melania. And of course, this scene is done in the bathtub and at the end of the scene, Donald Trump stands up and you see him stark naked. It was just such disrespect.”
And that’s before the brutal scene she describes next:
“So, they all go to senate… there’s an American flag behind Julius Caesar… and then, yeah, they had a full murder scene on stage. He’s stabbed several times. There’s blood spewing everywhere. It was appalling, shocking.”
Sheaffer said most in the audience just accepted what they were seeing. For her, she couldn’t stop thinking about Griffin’s severed Trump head and thinking, “This is okay? This is going over?”
“It’s not funny. It’s too far,” she said.
Piscopo stated the obvious, “Imagine if you did it with anybody else... Barack Obama.”
Sheaffer told Mediaite, “The message it sent was that if you don’t support the president, it’s ok to assassinate him.”
“Kathy Griffin got so much coverage for what she did, everyone was horrified, so why is no one horrified by this, which is essentially the murder of the President of the United States in front of 2,000 people?” she added.
The play is directed by Oskar Eustis who wasn’t hiding behind the parallels he was trying to draw with President Trump: “Julius Caesar can be read as a warning parable to those who try to fight for democracy by undemocratic means. To fight the tyrant does not mean imitating him."
The Delacourt website describes the play, also clearly drawing the same lines:
The Public Theater’s Artistic Director Oskar Eustis directs JULIUS CAESAR, Shakespeare’s play of politics and power, last seen in the Park 17 years ago. Rome’s leader, Julius Caesar, is a force unlike any the city has seen. Magnetic, populist, irreverent, he seems bent on absolute power. A small band of patriots, devoted to the country’s democratic traditions, must decide how to oppose him. Shakespeare’s political masterpiece has never felt more contemporary.
Hollywood character actor Gregg Henry (Guardians of the Galaxy, Scandal) plays Julius Caesar. It also features House of Cards actor Corey Stoll as Marcus Brutus. Performances run through June 18. The theater warns, “Julius Caesar contains the use of violence, nudity, live gunshot sounds, strobe, herbal cigarettes, haze, and fog.” Tickets are free.
“The culture belongs to everyone,” Eustis says in a promotional video for keeping Shakespeare in the Park free. “The first thing we have to do is make sure Shakespeare belongs to everyone. That everybody in this country — documented or undocumented, native-born or immigrant — gets to feel like Shakespeare is their possession.”