HomeWorld NewsSir Ian McKellen condemns 'ludicrous' theatre trigger warnings
Sir Ian McKellen condemns 'ludicrous' theatre trigger warnings
Sir Ian McKellen condemns ‘ludicrous’ theatre trigger warnings on his own play saying he prefers to be ‘surprised by loud noises and outrageous behaviour’
Sir Ian McKellen has blasted the ‘ludicrous’ use ‘trigger warning’ signs on his own play as he hit out at modern theatres mollycoddling audiences.
The 84-year-old actor, who is starring alongside Roger Allam in Frank and Percy at The Other Palace, London, ridiculed the signs and said he ‘prefers to be surprised’.
His latest play follows the relationship of two retired men who meet on Hampstead Heath. A warning has been placed on the theatre’s website saying the show contains strong language, sexual references and discussions of bereavement and cancer.
Speaking to Sky News about the play, Sir Ian said: ‘Outside theatres and in the lobbies, including this one, the audience is warned “there is a loud noise and at one point, there are flashing lights”, “there is reference to smoking”, “there is reference to bereavement”.’
He added: ‘I think it’s ludicrous, myself, yes, absolutely. I quite like to be surprised by loud noises and outrageous behaviour on stage.’
Sir Ian McKellen (left) who is starring alongside Roger Allam (right) in Frank and Percy at The Other Palace, London , ridiculed the signs and said he ‘prefers to be surprised’.
A warning has been placed on the theatre’s website saying the show contains strong language, sexual references and discussions of bereavement and cancer
Sir Ian has blasted the ‘ludicrous’ use ‘trigger warning’ signs on his own play as he hit out at modern theatres mollycoddling audiences
It’s not the first time the X-Men and Lord of The Rings star has slammed aspects of contemporary theatre production.
In February the legendary actor blasted the ‘irrelevant’ jobs such as intimacy coordinators for ruining the ‘purity’ of modern theatre.
He told Simon Armitage on The Poet Laureate Has Gone To His Shed podcast, theatre has seen many changes and ‘not always for the better’.
READ MORE: Is this a case of crazy wokery I see before me? Actors ridicule university trigger warnings over blood in Macbeth
‘The latest is the intimacy co-ordinator. This isn’t yet mandatory, but I can imagine there are situations when you have to be careful and people find it difficult to be intimate, and therefore a co-ordinator is just the thing’, he said.
‘But why can’t it be the director who does that? Why has it got to be somebody who’s been trained in how to do it?’
He added: ‘I can imagine situations where people find it difficult to be intimate – but why can’t the director do that? The purity of as few people as possible getting in the way is good.’
Sir Ian’s has previously spoken out against trigger warnings including when they have been placed on works of fiction at university libraries.
In June, the Daily Mail revealed how Queen’s University Belfast had issued a warning to undergraduates studying a module called Further Adventures in Shakespeare on its BA English course.
‘You are advised that this play could cause offence as it references and / or deals with issues and depictions relating to bloodshed,’ the university said.
Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood (pictured) in Macbeth
McKellen said many of the changes to theatre have not always been ‘for the better’
The university has also applied similar warnings to the Bard’s Richard III, Twelfth Night and Titus Andronicus.
It prompted some Britain’s biggest theatrical stars to brand the warnings counterproductive and unnecessary. They point out that Macbeth, which was first performed in 1606, is particularly popular with schoolchildren
Sir Ian, who in 1976 starred opposite Dame Judi Dench in a production of Macbeth for the Royal Shakespeare Company, said: ‘My sister [a teacher] used to show Sir Trevor Nunn’s TV version of the 1976 Macbeth to her teenage students.
‘She’d pull down the blinds, start the video and then leave the classroom and count the minutes till she heard the first scream from within. Had the youngsters had trigger warnings in advance, the effect of the play would have been considerably diminished.’
He added: ‘I remember talking to a priest who saw a number of performances of the stage production at the Stratford Other Place. He would hold out his crucifix throughout the performance, to protect the audience from the devilry conjured by the cast. I suppose these triggers are something similar.’
Call The Midwife star Jenny Agutter, who has acted in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, King Lear and Love’s Labour’s Lost, said: ‘I don’t understand why anyone should feel warnings are necessary for Shakespeare’s plays. Unless we need to be constantly warned that depicting human nature might cause offence.’