Ralph Fiennes Advocates Against Trigger Warnings in Theatre

Fiennes Stirs Debate Over Theatre's Emotional Impact.

by Nouman Rasool
Ralph Fiennes Advocates Against Trigger Warnings in Theatre
© John Phillips/Getty Images

There has recently been a discussion on trigger warnings in theatre caused by the famous actor Ralph Fiennes - for instance, from the Harry Potter film series or Schindler's List. Speaking on BBC One's "Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg," Fiennes, 61, argued emotional engagement with theatrical performance as something that should not be deprived by trigger warnings, which he intimated weaken the raw impact of theatre.

Trigger warnings, of course: The other point of contention with the theater community is the use of the term "trigger warnings," in which it is ever so common to find in the pre-show advisories that the theatre uses. Fiennes, who is currently wowing audiences in a UK tour production of Macbeth, said: "We never had trigger warnings for shows when I was young.

I think the impact of theatre should be that you're shocked and you should be disturbed. It's the unexpected, the shock, that makes theatre so exciting."

Fiennes Critiques Narrative Warnings

Though Fiennes agreed that specific warnings, for example, regarding strobe lighting were appropriate, he said he was against warnings of disturbing narrative elements.

He recalled his days of youth while first getting interested into theatre and remembered he never saw warnings on any of the plays of Shakespeare, which were containing lot of horrors and acts of violence. This opinion reflected in what actor Sir Ian McKellen said, that warnings were "ludicrous." In addition to his thoughts on theatre, Fiennes also spoke vehemently about environmental issues.

He was critical of the plans of National Grid that would see the setting up of a vast electricity infrastructure in Suffolk that would eventually destroy many important natural landscapes. Meanwhile, Fiennes is running a campaign with the Suffolk Energy Action Solutions (SEAS) group to promote the offshore alternative despite National Grid claiming that it is more expensive.

Viewers lapped up Fiennes' passionate promotion for environmental conservation. Many took to social media to hail his eloquence and commitment to green issues, rare in a political world often lacking in them. His admirers came out in support, with some praising his speaking skills and others issuing half-joking endorsements for political leadership.