Scandal

Sponsors flee New York City theater company over Trump-killing scene

Delta Air Lines and Bank of America became the first companies to announce they are pulling their sponsorships of a Manhattan-based theater company’s portrayal of Julius Caesar as a Donald Trump look-alike in a business suit who gets stabbed to death on stage.

Delta and Bank of America both announced their intentions on Sunday.

"No matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of Julius Caesar at this summer's Free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines' values," the company’s statement said. "Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste."

Bank of America added it was withdrawing funding for the production.

"The Public Theater chose to present Julius Caesar in such a way that was intended to provoke and offend," the bank said in a tweet. "Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it."

American Express also took to Twitter and announced their sponsorship doesn't support the play.

"We would like to clarify that our sponsorship of the Public Theater does not fund the production of Shakespeare in the Park nor do we condone the interpretation of the Julius Caesar play," the financial corporation tweeted. 

Performances at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater began in late May, just days before comedian Kathy Griffin was condemned for posing for a photograph with a bloodied rendering of Trump’s head.

Oskar Eustis, the Public Theater's artistic director who also directed the play, said earlier in a statement that "anyone seeing our production of 'Julius Caesar' will realize it in no way advocates violence towards anyone."

A spokesperson for the National Endowment for the Arts told Fox News funding wasn't provided to "Julius Caesar."

"The National Endowment for the Arts makes grants to nonprofit organizations for specific projects," explained the spokesperson. "In the past, the New York Shakespeare Festival has received project-based NEA grants to support performances of Shakespeare in the Park by the Public Theater. However, no NEA funds have been awarded to support this summer's Shakespeare in the Park production of 'Julius Caesar' and there are no NEA funds supporting the New York State Council on the Arts' grant to Public Theater or its performances."

The spokesperson added the last grant was awarded in 2016 for "The Taming of the Shrew" and "Troilus and Cressida." 

"We haven't made any award to date for this year's festival," they said.

"Julius Caesar" tells a fictionalized story of a powerful, popular Roman leader who is assassinated by senators who fear he is becoming a tyrant. It is set in ancient Rome, but many productions have costumed the characters in modern dress to give it a present-day connection.

The production runs through June 18.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.