Delta Air Lines and Bank of America have pulled their sponsorship of The Public Theater's version of "Julius Caesar" that portrays a Donald Trump-like dictator in a business suit who gets knifed to death onstage.
On a recent summer evening, the New York City audience in the outdoor theater loved it.
The Public has long protected its role as incubator of provocative and challenging works, unafraid to mount plays that comment on current events or update Shakespearian plays to explore modern themes.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the theater acknowledged the growing controversy surrounding the play's interpretation, but said that "such discussion is exactly the goal of our civically-engaged theatre".
According to Time, in the production of the play based on the Roman statesman Julius Caesar, the title character is dressed to portray Trump.
However, one of the photos still showed former sponsor Bank of America, which announced its decision to pull funding from the theater company on Sunday evening in a Twitter statement. "Shakespeare's play, and our production, make the opposite point: those who attempt to defend democracy by undemocratic means pay a awful price and destroy the thing they are fighting to save". "We are withdrawing our funding from this production". "For over 400 years, Shakespeare's play has told this story and we are proud to be telling it again in Central Park".
The production has been in previews for almost four weeks, but only recently saw funders pull out after "Julius Caesar" was criticized in right-leaning news outlets. "Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it".
In the production, Caesar meets his end when he is stabbed to death by women and minorities on stage.
Among those speaking out against the play were Trump's sons. But it was too much for two of the Public Theater's corporate donors.
The National Endowment for the Arts, which Trump, a Republican, once proposed eliminating, said that while the Public's Shakespeare programing has received its grants in the past none was awarded for "Julius Caesar" or for funds supporting the New York State Council on the Arts' grant for the Public.
The Public Theater's "Julius Caesar" began in previews May 23 and is scheduled to run until June 18.