Uninformed idiot trolls are terrorizing Shakespeare companies around the country, mistakenly blaming them for a controversial production of “Julius Caesar” from New York’s Public Theater, which depicts a Trump-like character getting stabbed.
Let’s start with the latter point: Public Theater’s title character features a protagonist with orange-y hair, a red tie and an unbuttoned coat—Trump, basically, though honestly it could be any right-wing blowhard—getting knifed and ultimately bleeding out on the stage floor. Gruesome!
People are so mad about it that two protesters interrupted the Friday night show. One, identified as Laura Loomer, burst onto the stage screaming “Stop the normalization of political violence against the right! This is unacceptable!” before getting hauled away by security. The audience cheered.
As that finished up, a prominent Trump supporter and conspiracy theorist named Jack Posobiec stood up and screamed “You are all Goebbels! Goebbels would be proud,” before he, too, was carted away. (Luckily, he posted a video of the ordeal on Twitter.)
Like I said, controversial. But now, Shakespeare companies who have nothing whatsoever to do with Public Theater are being targeted with hateful messages, stunning their recipients with their violence, the Boston Globe reports.
One letter sent to Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass. reads: “[H]ope you all who did this play about Trump are the first do [sic] die when ISIS COMES TO YOU [expletive] sumbags [sic].” Another wished the theater “the worst possible life you could have and hope you all get sick and die.”
Shakespeare Dallas reports that it’s received around 80 messages, including threats of rape, death and one that hopes that theater staff is “sent to ISIS to be killed with real knives.”
The article includes lots of speculation about why regional companies with no Public Theater association would be hit with such vitriol. Web analytics is the most probable theory. “They’re just doing a general Google search,” Dallas’s artistic director, Raphael Parry, said. “When you Google ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ in the Texas region, our name pops up first, and they just go to town.” Someone else guessed that it was latent anger from having to read Shakespeare in high school. Sure, there are no wrong answers in brainstorming!
In fairness, it’s hard to think straight when you’re mad, and boy, people are mad. The bloody scene has provoked responses from at least a couple advertisers, with Delta and Bank of America pulling their financial support for the theater. Interestingly, Delta seemed fine with backing a 2012 staging of the play at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, in which Caeser clearly referenced President Barack Obama. As the airline told the Washington Post:
“Delta has been a generous supporter of the Guthrie Theater for decades and was a season sponsor in 2011-2012 when we co-produced ‘Julius Caesar’ with The Acting Company,” Elizabeth Deacon, associate marketing director at the theater, told The Post by e-mail.
“Julius Caesar” is a cautionary tale about power that has been used to comment on politics for decades. Presidents that have been portrayed as Caesar include Lincoln, Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush and yes, Obama. But these are special times we live in, where precedent means nothing.
Anyway, the play is closing in two days anyway so hang in there, everyone.