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Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival gears up amidst play controversy in NYC

VIDEO Pennsylvania Shakespeare...

The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival is gearing up for another summer of theatrical performances at DeSales University.

The curtain is going up at a time when one interpretation of a Shakespeare play in New York City finds itself mired in controversy.

Julius Caesar is the play that has Shakespeare theater companies talking.

"Colleagues of ours in other parts of the country have been receiving emails and communications objecting to this particular portrayal of Julius Caesar," said Patrick Mulcahy, producing artistic director of the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. "We haven't had any comments."

The objections stem from Shakespeare in the Park's depiction of Julius Caesar bearing a striking resemblance to President Trump.

In the final scene, Caesar is stabbed to death by a group of senators.

Protestors interrupted the closing night performance and some sponsors have pulled funding.

Mulcahy says PSF is not political and he has not seen the production in question, but says sometimes what's happening on the stage can mirror what is happening in life.

"Last year when we opened Julius Caesar it was the  day that Britain voted to Brexit and so that was a really interesting moment. People came up to me in the lobby and said it's so interesting that you are doing a play that includes this sort of mob that gets all excited about a particular idea," Mulcahy said.

Shakespeare in the Park posted this statement on its website:

"Our production of JULIUS CAESAR in no way advocated violence towards anyone. Shakespeare's play, and our production, made 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 were proud to have told 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 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. #WeAreOnePublic"

"I was surprised to hear that there were people objecting to other theaters that had no role in producing it," said Mulcahy.

He said art and in this case, theater, aims to engage people in a deeper dialog about what it means to be human.

He hopes when patrons watch this year's selections for the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, they will join in that conversation.

For more information on the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival go to www.pashakespeare.org.


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