Public Theater defends 'Julius Caesar' amid Trump controversy, thanks supporters

Trump-like 'Julius Caesar' loses sponsors
Trump-like 'Julius Caesar' loses sponsors

The Public Theater said Monday afternoon that it stands "completely behind" its production of "Julius Caesar" following controversy over its staging of the play in New York City's Central Park, which includes a bloody assassination of a ruler who resembles President Trump.

"We recognize that our interpretation of the play has provoked heated discussion; audiences, sponsors and supporters have expressed varying viewpoints and opinions," the theater said in a statement provided to CNN. "Such discussion is exactly the goal of our civically-engaged theater; this discourse is the basis of a healthy democracy."

The backlash over the Public's rendition of the William Shakespeare play caused two corporate sponsors, Delta and Bank of America, to pull support of the production on Sunday. (The Time Warner Foundation, a nonprofit group supported by CNN's parent company, Time Warner, is a sponsor of the Public Theater.)

Related: Delta and Bank of America abandon Trump-like 'Julius Caesar'

In its statement, the Public Theater made it clear that it "in no way advocates violence towards anyone" and said that the play -- and this production -- actually tries to make the opposite point.

"Those who attempt to defend democracy by undemocratic means pay a terrible price and destroy the very thing they are fighting to save," the theater said. "For over 400 years, Shakespeare's play has told this story and we are proud to be telling it again in Central Park."

The Public Theater also put out a statement on Twitter thanking those who showed support.

"We continue to be guided by our values of openness, inclusion, and the conviction that in drama and democracy alike, the clash of opposing views leads to truth," the theater tweeted. "The Public Theater has always been -- and will remain -- of, by, and for the people."

It ended its tweeted statement with the hashtag "#WeAreOnePublic."

- Carolyn Disbrow contributed to this report


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