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Unbowed 'Julius Caesar' director urges artists 'take risks'

Associated Press logo Associated Press 6/30/2017 By MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer
FILE - In this June 6, 2016 file photo, Oskar Eustis attends the 2016 Public Theater Gala Benefit "United States of Shakespeare" at the Delacorte Theater in New York. The theater director who endured death threats and lost corporate sponsors after staging a Donald Trump-inspired version of “Julius Caesar” has a message to artists fearful of any backlash - don’t flinch. “We can’t allow ourselves to feel overwhelmed. We can’t allow ourselves to feel we’re completely isolated. We’re not,” Eustis, the artistic director of The Public Theatre, tells The Associated Press. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this June 6, 2016 file photo, Oskar Eustis attends the 2016 Public Theater Gala Benefit "United States of Shakespeare" at the Delacorte Theater in New York. The theater director who endured death threats and lost corporate sponsors after staging a Donald Trump-inspired version of “Julius Caesar” has a message to artists fearful of any backlash - don’t flinch. “We can’t allow ourselves to feel overwhelmed. We can’t allow ourselves to feel we’re completely isolated. We’re not,” Eustis, the artistic director of The Public Theatre, tells The Associated Press. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The theater director who endured death threats and lost corporate sponsors after staging a Donald Trump-inspired version of "Julius Caesar" has a message to any artist fearful of facing similar backlash — don't flinch.

Oskar Eustis says leaders in the arts world need to "step out and take the risks that will really fulfill the arts' historic function."

Eustis sparked controversy when he chose to portray Caesar as an ego-driven populist with fluffy blond hair, a gold bathtub and a leggy Slovenian wife for his summer production of Shakespeare in the Park in New York City.

While Trump's name was never mentioned, the backlash was swift after images appeared of the Trumpian Caesar dying in a bloody group stabbing in Act 3, as has happened onstage for some 400 years.

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