Shakespeare Fans Laugh Off Protesters

Salvatore Cipolla, via Twitter

Shakespeare Fans Laugh Off Protesters

by Taia Handlin | Featured | Jun 19, 2017

Theatergoers have no time for pro-Trump nonsense. I went to Shakespeare in the Park’s final run of Julius Caesar, featuring a Trump-styled Caesar, to see if Trump supporters would again break up the show. Protesters made some noise but theatergoers were nonplussed.

Within the first 15 minutes, Jovanni Valle stormed the stage shouting “liberal hate kills” and “Goebbels would be proud.” Then Salvatore Cipolla was dragged out after yelling “Goebbels would be proud” onstage during the assassination scene. Theater security escorted a third man out after he failed to get onstage.
Cipolla and Valle were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespass. The third, unnamed man, was simply removed.

While outside the show, waiting for this kind of tomfoolery, I saw the third protester tell staff they were “part of the problem.” They handed him off to a cop, who tried to calm the man down by saying “we’re on your side.” The protester responded “blue lives matter.”

The antics followed Friday’s disruption by right-wing blogger Laura Bloomer, who stormed the stage to call everyone Nazis.

By Sunday, the audience and company were ready to take interruptions in stride.

The audience booed all three protesters, while a calming voice announced “ladies and gentlemen, we’ll pause here briefly.” After they were removed, the woman simply said “actors, we’ll pick up at [the line to resume on].”

Nothing but chill.

A woman at the show told me while laughing that “the show was exciting.” I asked her if the protests ruined it and she laughed again. “Nah. I mean it was a little hard to focus [on the show]. Also though, a lot of the show had actors planted in the audience and being kind of violent, so it was hard to tell what was going on. Except, you know, when security dragged them out. Then it was pretty clear.” She and her friend walked away, still giggling.

Another woman told me while hurrying away that “they just want to be heard. The funny thing is though, everyone was booing at them.”

One man who said the “show was great, the protests were insane.”

There was a woman who said she was “surprised” by her reaction to the protestors. “I started to cry,” she said, before actually starting to choke up. “I’m gonna cry now. I’m very sad for our country. Theater can’t exist, press can’t exist. I want it to stop.”

The volunteer staff outside were in high spirits, laughing after each protest.

The Public Theater stands by its Trumpian version of the play, telling Vulture: “We recognize that our interpretation of the play has provoked heated discussions … such discussion is exactly the goal of our civically-engaged theater; this discourse is the basis of a healthy democracy.”