So to Speak podcast: Et tu, hecklers? Defending artistic expression with Arts Integrity Initiative Director Howard Sherman

July 13, 2017

In Shakespeare’s 1599 play “Julius Caesar,” the title character is warned by a soothsayer to “beware the Ides of March.” After protesters attempted to shut down a modernized production of the play in New York’s Central Park last month, theater companies may now be warning each other to “beware the ire of hecklers.”

On today’s episode of So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast, we speak with Arts Integrity Initiative Director Howard Sherman about the controversy surrounding The Public Theater’s production of “Julius Caesar,” which captured headlines for portraying Caesar as a costumed Donald Trump (spoiler alert: Caesar gets assasinated). Howard was in the audience on June 16 when a protester stormed the stage. He might have also been the first to report the heckling to the outside world.

Was the protest protected speech? What does the controversy tell us about creating art on contemporary political themes? Also, looking beyond the “Julius Caesar” controversy, where else do we see art challenged — or censored — and why? These questions and more are addressed in this wide-ranging interview.

You can subscribe and listen to So to Speak on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher, or download episodes directly from SoundCloud.

Stay up to date with So to Speak on the show’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and subscribe to the show’s newsletter at

Have ideas for future shows? Email us at

Have questions you want us to answer during an upcoming show? Call them into our voicemail inbox at 215-315-0100.