NY theater that staged assassination of Trump lays off 19% of staff

July 17, 2023
Robert Ayers

The New York Times reports that New York's Public Theater is laying off 19% of its staff. 

The theater is described by the Times as "one of the nation's most prestigious and successful nonprofit theaters."

So, the big question is: why is "one of the nation's most prestigious and successful nonprofit theaters" laying off roughly one out of every five of its staff?

The Times chalks the layoffs up to a "financial crisis" that is being experienced by theater companies across America.

What's going on?

The author of the Times report, Michael Paulson, notes that the layoffs taking place at the Public Theater follow "a 13 percent layoff at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and a 10 percent layoff at the Center Theater Group in Los Angeles."

Paulson went on to quote Oskar Eustis - the artistic director of Public Theater. Eustis attempts to explain what specifically is taking place.

Eustis says:

The economic headwinds that are attacking the American theater are attacking us, too. Our audience is down by about 30%, we have expenses up anywhere from 30 to 45%, and we have kept our donor base, but it’s static. Put that all together, and you get budget shortfalls — big budget shortfalls.

This certainly explains why it is that Public Theater has had to lay off about 50 staff members. But, it does not explain why it is that its "audience is down by about 30%."

This, of course, is a much more difficult question to answer. A capitalist would argue that attendance is down because the people do not like the product being sold by the theater. But, it is difficult to prove such a claim.


Public Theater is known for putting on such shows as A Chorus Line and Hamilton. But, it is also infamous for its 2017 Central Park performance of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, which was directed by Eustis.

In the play, Eustis replaced Caesar and Caesar's wife, Calpurnia, with an actor portraying then-President Donald Trump and an actress portraying Trump's wife, Melania Trump. Eustis made little attempt to cover up this fact. The actors looked like and spoke like Mr. and Mrs. Trump.

Anyone familiar with Shakespeare's play will know that there is a scene in which Caesar gets stabbed to death. In Eustis's version of the play, it is the actor clearly portraying Trump who gets stabbed to death.

The theater company received much criticism for the performance.

But, as stated, whether it is stuff like this that has driven people away from the theaters is unclear.

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