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Ian McKellen rips into 'trigger warnings' for theater productions
Featured Image Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth-WPA Pool/Getty Images. Mike Marsland/WireImage for Pride In London

Ian McKellen rips into 'trigger warnings' for theater productions

The veteran actor called the new warnings for his play, Frank and Percy, ‘ludicrous’.

Sir Ian McKellen slams the ‘ludicrous’ theater warnings over his own play.

The veteran actor is starring in the new play Frank and Percy, which follows two retired men who meet on Hampstead Heath and the unexpected connection that forms.

The production has recently opened at the iconic theater, the Other Palace in Victoria, London, to sell-out shows and rave reviews.

But recently, in an interview with Sky News, the Lord of the Rings star took aim at the list of trigger warnings on the play's website.

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“I think it’s ludicrous,” he told the outlet.

Currently, Frank and Percy has a list of warnings that include strong language, sexual references, and discussions of bereavement and cancer.

“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’,” McKellen said.

"I like to be surprised by loud noises and outrageous behavior on stage.”

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You may have noticed trigger warnings are just about everywhere these days.

While some detest it, The New York Times writes that as many contemporary productions cover themes such as shootings, trigger warnings have become the norm in theater.

According to James Bundy, dean of the Yale School of Drama, not all audiences like to be surprised.

“What’s different now is that there is genuine consideration given to the unseen and unknown potential for harm when someone is traumatized in ways that could have been avoided,” he told the outlet.

However, Susie Medak, the managing director of Berkeley Repertory Theater, notes that this trend diminishes the impact of theater.

“We have a generation coming of age that expects to be protected from discomfort, and a lot of companies succumb to that,” she said.

“To me, it’s a frustrating trend — what’s the point of experiencing art if you don’t expect to be surprised?”

But perhaps the best example to use trigger warnings is Shakespeare Globe's infamous 2014 staging of Titus Andronicus, which theatergoers found so distressing that it led to some fainting in aisles almost every show, as per CBC.

Western Canada Theatre's James MacDonald agrees that while they might take away the element of surprise, he deems them necessary to spark public discourse.

"I like to think that if we are engaging our audience and educating our audience and engaging in a discussion with our audience, that this is the best way to avoid censorship,” he told the CBC.

Topics: News, UK News, Celebrity