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Trigger warnings for ‘soft’ audiences should be ditched : Ralph Fiennes

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Published Time: 11.02.2024 - 21:40:28 Modified Time: 11.02.2024 - 21:40:28

Two-time Oscar-nominated actor Marc Brenner Ralph Fiennes has said theatre audiences are too soft as he called for trigger warnings to be ditched

Two-time Oscar-nominated actor

: Marc Brenner

Ralph Fiennes has said theatre audiences are too soft as he called for trigger warnings to be ditched.

The two-time Oscar-nominated actor and Tony Award winner said stage performances ought to leave audiences “shocked and disturbed”.

The aspect of surprise is “what makes theatre so exciting”, he said.

Pre-performance trigger warnings for violence, language, loud noises and even references to smoking among other things have become a commonplace fixture of modern theatre.

But Fiennes, 61, has now joined Sir Ian McKellen and Christopher Biggins in calling for them to be scrapped.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show, Fiennes, currently starring in Macbeth alongside  claimed audiences have become too sensitive.

When asked if attendees had gone too “soft”, he said: “I think audiences have. We didn’t used to have trigger warnings.

“There are very disturbing scenes in Macbeth, terrible murders and things, but I think the impact of theatre is that you should be shocked and you should be disturbed.

“I don’t think you should be prepared for these things and when I was young we never had trigger warnings before a show.”

He added: “Shakespeare’s plays are full of murder and full of horror, and as a young student and lover of the theatre I never experienced trigger warnings like oh by the way in King Lear Gloucester’s going to have his eyes pulled out.

“Theatre needs to be alive and in the present. It’s the shock, it’s the unexpected, that’s what makes the theatre so exciting.”

Although he was in favour of ending trigger warnings, he said cautionary notes about strobe lighting and other factors that may harm an individual’s health should remain in place.

Fiennes performed in Schindler’s List and The Grand Budapest Hotel, and is now starring in an immersive touring production of Macbeth.

His complaints come after Sir McKellen last year criticised “ludicrous” warnings at his own play Frank and Percy at The Other Palace in London.

The theatre’s website warned attendees that the show featured strong language, sexual references and discussions of bereavement and cancer.

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