The Public Theater‘s Julius Caesar, directed by Oskar Eustis for #ShakespeareInThePark closes today after waves of controversy threatened the very stage upon which it was performed. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern…, I mean Delta Airlines and Bank of America withdrew their support from the production when it was clear that the actor playing Caesar, Gregg Henry, would resemble President Trump. Comparisons have been drawn to the 2012 staging of the same play by the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis where Caesar was played by Bjorn DuPaty, a Black man meant to portray President Obama.
The historical account of Caesar’s downfall have permeated the arts many times and has often resembled current events. However, many of President Trump’s supporters have taken particular offense to this year’s offering and on June 16th, a blogger named Laura Loomer charged the stage immediately after the titular character’s death in Act 3; shouting that the play promoted normalization of violence against the right-wing. Loomer and another protester were removed from the theater and charged with trespassing.
Soon after, the hashtag #ShakespeareInTheTrump went viral on Twitter when blogger John Aravosis queried, “What if all of Shakespeare was really written about Donald Trump? What would the titles be?” The Shakespeare fans of the Internet swarmed with responses and we’ve compiled the best 15 just for you!
What if all of Shakespeare was really written about Donald Trump? What would the titles be?
King Lear –> King Leer.#ShakespeareInTheTrump
— John Aravosis (@aravosis) June 17, 2017
King Leer was an instant internet favorite with a play on King Lear and the reports that Trump would often enter dressing rooms of beauty pageants unannounced.
A little more than kin, and less than unqualified #ShakespeareInTheTrump
— rahaeli (@rahaeli) June 18, 2017
This line from Hamlet uttered by the title character displays his disregard for the familial ties to his murderous uncle. The tweet seems to point at Trump’s lack of public service experience before taking office.
It is my opinion that the entire Tempest was a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese. #ShakespeareInTheTrump
— sander gusinow (@sandergusinow) June 18, 2017
Ah, yes! Climate change is a hoax! Or so tweeted our illustrious leader in 2012. But Shakespeare’s The Tempest is certainly no hoax… or is it?!?!? [editor’s note: I just checked. both climate change and The Tempest are real. As you were.]
#ShakespeareInTheTrump I hope some street vendor is smart enough to be serving Orange Julius Caesars after the show.
— Momo Pnano (@MichaelPnano) June 18, 2017
Oy, now I’m craving Orange Julius! They should include a discount to anyone who whispers, “Et tu, Brute?” after their delicious citrus drink is stabbed by eight straws.
Now is the 4 years of our discontent… #ShakespeareInTheTrump
— Shelby Lynn (@Shelbylynn_bias) June 18, 2017
We hear you, Shelby. Roughly quoting the first line of The Tragedy of King Richard III shows how most of Trump’s policies have really put down minorities and other marginalized groups since he took office.
— Kate Van Gent (@Kiestlo) June 18, 2017
Caesar’s line from Act I about Brutus shows that J.C. just can’t trust skinny people… or thinkers. This tweet points at Trump’s removal of former FBI Director James Comey in mid-April. And at 6’8″ tall, Comey certainly fits the lean description!
"All's Well That Ends in Impeachment"#ShakespeareintheTrump
— Sean Patrick Thomas (@sean_p_thomas) June 18, 2017
Preach, Sean! Mr. Patrick Thomas made his Broadway debut in 2014 featured in Broadway revival of A Raisin In The Sun starring Denzel Washington. Here he references Shakespeare’s play All’s Well That Ends Well. His acting chops seem to range from Saving The Last Dance to 14th-century literature so we hope to see him on a stage again soon!
— iBthatdood (@ibthatdood) June 17, 2017
As we mentioned above, Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis staged a production in 2012. That’s Julius there on the ground, covered in blood. Are we surprised that people are treating the deaths of a Black man and a white man differently? WE ARE NOT.
If you prick us do we not have blood coming out of our wherever? #ShakespeareInTheTrump
— Kenneth Hoffman (@NOLAKenneth) June 17, 2017
Ok, so this one is farther down the list but IT IS GOLD! Remember early August 2015? The good old days? Trump was displeased with debate moderator Megyn Kelly’s job and said, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” If I could meet The Merchant of Venice, from whence this quote comes, I’d buy a time machine just to go back to this time, when we had a different president. And a pound of meat. I hear he deals in meat. [editor furtively whispers in my ear] Oh, human hearts. Nevermind. I pass.
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) June 17, 2017
Luke Skywalker couldn’t stick to just one pun! Five titles crammed into one tweet but the cherry on top is the riff on Coriolanus and Trump’s incomprehensible tweet from later last month, covfefe.
Lord, what fools these mortals be pic.twitter.com/BWmpdUrQlK
— #FreeCali NaphiSoc (@NaphiSoc) June 17, 2017
Fools indeed. I offer this submission to anyone who needs something to mutter under their breath when ridiculous things happen, as Puck does with this phrase from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
— Beau Willimon (@BeauWillimon) June 17, 2017
And here we have another winner! This line from The Tempest sums up the current administration perfectly. And Mr. Willimon would know. He’s the creator of “House of Cards,” a man who has filled his share of fictional D.C. swamps.
Henry Pleads the Vth #shakespeareinthetrump
— ChristianChristensen (@ChrChristensen) June 17, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions refused to say much of anything during congressional hearings last week about possible collusion with Russia during the Trump campaign. Is there possible collusion with The Life of Henry V? He’s not saying.
— ShakespeareofThrones (@shakesofthrones) June 18, 2017
For some reason this picture reminds me of cold toothpaste and orange juice but I can’t figure why. It could be the madness that Hamlet is trying to warn us about.
BREAKING: Julius Ceasar Gets SHUTDOWN pic.twitter.com/ITgfMR0tHE
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) June 17, 2017
And finally we have the protesters who have clearly never heard the phrase, “The Show Must Go ON!” Of course, it’s not Shakespeare so maybe it was beyond them. Not only is this dudebro incapable of spelling Julius Caesar, he was also incapable of actually shutting anything down.
Your turn! What crazy Shakespeare title/quote might speak to you today, on this the day of my daughter’s wedding? [editor’s note: That’s from “The Godfather” and not Shakespeare.]
Our production of JULIUS CAESAR in no way advocates violence towards anyone. Shakespeare’s play, and our production, 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. 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 stands completely behind our production of JULIUS CAESAR. We understand and respect the right of our sponsors and supporters to allocate their funding in line with their own values. We recognize that our interpretation of the play has provoked heated discussion; audiences, sponsors and supporters have expressed varying viewpoints and opinions.
Such discussion is exactly the goal of our civically-engaged theater; this discourse is the basis of a healthy democracy.