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The theater director who endured death threats and lost corporate sponsors after staging a Donald Trump-inflected "Julius Caesar" has a message to any artist fearful of facing similar backlash.The artistic director of The Public Theater, 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 free Shakespeare in the Park summer production.Some screamed that the production condoned the assassination of Trump, though the play clearly warns those who commit political violence even for noble reasons about the futility of their actions.Arian Moayed, a Tony-nominated actor and artistic director of the Waterwell theater company, watched the events unfold with dread.Allyn Burrows, the artistic director, chose to use the controversy to engage, quietly emailing a "Julius Caesar" synopsis to hate-spewing critics and trying to tamp down the vitriol. While calling Eustis' approach "bold," Burrows said theater companies must follow their own muses when making art and be prepared to explain it. Trump does not seem to share his predecessor's enjoyment of live theater.The stage world's response to Trump has included Robert Schenkkan's play "Building the Wall" and a Broadway transfer of George Orwell's "1984 ".More political plays are on tap as artists sublimate the Trump era.
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