British theatre company now issues ‘trigger warnings’ to prevent ‘audience distress’
According to an update on the Royal Court’s (RC) website, the theatre now provides special advice to customers wanting to talk about a play’s content before watching it, to prevent “extreme distress.”
“We don’t want to spoil anyone’s experience of a new play at the Royal Court and therefore avoid giving too much away when promoting the play,” the site’s trigger warnings section now reads.
“However we’re also conscious that these moments can be particularly distressing for some individuals. If there are certain themes that you know would cause you extreme distress and you’d like to speak to one of the Royal Court team to find out more about a show before you book [you] can call the Box Office.”
Although the company has never been criticized for the content of its performances, the Royal Court’s performances of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway also carry notices for misogyny and suicide respectively.
Last year, London’s National Theatre received complaints after audience members fainted during performances of Cleansed, a play about love and cruelty that includes scenes of rape, mutilation, and torture by electrocution.
In 2014, the Globe’s version of Titus Andronicus left crowds outraged at the “grotesquely violent” production, with people reportedly walking out and feeling sick.
But the theatre producers’ union, the Society of London Theatres, said the RC’s trigger warnings are nothing new and that it is “not uncommon for shows to carry warnings and suggested ages.”
Scottish actor James McAvoy’s latest film Split has been criticized for its depiction of a man with a severe mental illness akin to schizophrenia.
Calls have grown in recent weeks for the movie to carry a trigger warning, despite grossing almost $80 million in its first 10 days.