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15th May 2024

Judi Dench says if you need a trigger warning you shouldn’t watch the show

Charlie Herbert

Judi dench trigger warnings

‘Where is the surprise of seeing and understanding it in your own way?’

Dame Judi Dench has said people shouldn’t watch theatre shows if they are “that sensitive” that they need trigger warnings.

In recent years, trigger warnings have been introduced in the theatre industry to warn audience members about any potentially distressing content in plays and productions.

This includes pre-show warnings about subject matters such as abuse, violence and loud noises.

In recent weeks, the likes of Ralph Fiennes and Matt Smith have criticised trigger warnings, arguing that the point of theatre and art is often to “disturb” and “shock” people.

In an interview with the Radio Times, acting legend Judi Dench was asked for her opinion on trigger warnings in theatre.

She said: “Do they do that? My God, it must be a pretty long trigger warning before King Lear or Titus Andronicus!”

The Oscar-winning actor, 89, continued: “I can see why they exist, but if you’re that sensitive, don’t go to the theatre, because you could be very shocked. Where is the surprise of seeing and understanding it in your own way?”

During an appearance on political chat show Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg earlier this year, Harry Potter star Ralph Fiennes had suggested warning messages before stage performances should be scrapped.

He argued that people should be “shocked” and “disturbed” by theatre. These comments were echoed by Matt Smith on the Sunday morning show the following week.

The former Doctor Who actor and House of the Dragon star said he agreed with Fiennes “utterly and completely.”

He continued: “I always thought that was one of the great things of doing Doctor Who. That you scared children, in a controlled way, but you did scare them. Imagine you go to kids watching Doctor Who, ‘By the way, this might scare you.’ No, I’m not into it.

“That’s why we go to the theatre, isn’t it? To be shocked, to be arrested out of ourselves, to recognise ourselves in front and with an audience.”

Smith added: “I worry sometimes that we’re moving towards a sort of sanitised version of everything and we’re stripping the danger and the invention and the ingenuity out of [everything]. Isn’t art meant to be dangerous?”

Both actors agreed that warnings for anything that could “affect people physically”, such as strobe effects, should still be flagged.

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Judi Dench