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Delta ends sponsorship over Trump look-alike killing scene

Associated Press logo Associated Press 6/12/2017
ADDS THE NAMES OF THE CHARACTERS PORTRAYED ON STAGE - In this May 21, 2017 photo provided by The Public Theater, Tina Benko, left, portrays Melania Trump in the role of Caesar's wife, Calpurnia, and Gregg Henry, center left, portrays President Donald Trump in the role of Julius Caesar during a dress rehearsal of The Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar, in New York. Rounding out the cast on stage is Teagle F. Bougere as Casca, and Elizabeth Marvel, right, as Marc Anthony. (Joan Marcus/The Public Theater via AP) © The Associated Press ADDS THE NAMES OF THE CHARACTERS PORTRAYED ON STAGE - In this May 21, 2017 photo provided by The Public Theater, Tina Benko, left, portrays Melania Trump in the role of Caesar's wife, Calpurnia, and Gregg Henry, center left, portrays President Donald Trump in the role of Julius Caesar during a dress rehearsal of The Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar, in New York. Rounding out the cast on stage is Teagle F. Bougere as Casca, and Elizabeth Marvel, right, as Marc Anthony. (Joan Marcus/The Public Theater via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Delta Air Lines on Sunday said it is pulling its sponsorship from a Manhattan-based theater company for portraying Julius Caesar as a Donald Trump look-alike in a business suit who gets knifed to death on stage.

The Atlanta-based airline released a statement saying it notified The Public Theater of its decision "effective immediately."

"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 statement said. "Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste."

Performances at Central Park's Delacorte Theater began in late May, just days before comedian Kathy Griffin was widely condemned for posing for a photograph in which she gripped 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."

Messages seeking comment from The Public Theater regarding Delta's decision weren't immediately returned.

"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.

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