Frank Yoka writes:

I was looking at some plays in London and noticed most theatres have a section on their website like this. When did this become a thing?


51 thoughts on “Triggered?

  1. Declan

    Reactively I’d roll my eyes at this sort of stuff but if you watch a movie with kids you’d like to know if it’s violent or overtly sexualized. So it’s the same for me in this case. I’ve also seen enough not suitable for younger theatre goers or contains nudity disclaimers in Dublin not to be bothered by it. It also puts the emphasis on the person who’ll be offended to find out which is a great idea!!!

    That said, when it comes to colleges and courses that’s a whole different story.

    1. Cian

      Yes, but this different to movie ratings – it is a catch-all;
      it would be like if you went to the cinema with your kids – but instead of there being a rating for each movie – there is a “some movies may contain rude bits and you might be offended” sign on the wall.

    2. realPolithicks

      I’m guessing that this is about CYA so that if someone does have a “reaction” the theater can say “look we warned you ahead of time”.

  2. Nigel

    Probably since in the last decide or so an increasing awareness of the sheer volume of abuse, assault, harassment and trauma that has been inflicted on sectors of the population and a better understanding of the psychological issues around PTSD, and the prevalence off all of these in art and entertainment, there is absolutely nothing to be lost by flagging them advance for those who know that they may be an issue if sprang on them suddenly and unexpectedly, but would not detract from their enjoyment if they were warned, or giving them the chance to avoid it altogether.

    This is only a controversial issue for people who have contempt for other people’s suffering or trauma.

        1. Anomanomanom

          You need to have a case in the first place. If they throw, say peanuts, with out warning some one id say ok you need an allergy warning. But needing to warn some one they might be “triggered” is ridiculous.

    1. Cian

      Except it doesn’t pre-warn people about any individual play. It is just a catch-all warning.

      It’s like the “may contain nuts” warnings, or the “packaged in a factory that handles nuts” that are appearing on almost all foods these days. If you attach this cautionary warning to all foods it loses all benefits.

      1. Nigel

        It’s offering a service to provide specific info on request, isn’t it, or am I misreading it? That seems more than a catch-all.

      2. The Ghost of Starina

        the way the sign is phrased they’re making sure that customers who have experienced trauma themselves know it’s ok to ring them up and say, “hey, are there any graphic rape scenes/extended scenes of gunfire and flashing lights/etc in this play that you’re doing about war that I would otherwise love to see?” So instead of addressing the potential triggers of each and every performance, they leave it up to the customer to decide, while also covering their own ass complaints-wise. I think it’s pretty clever.

      3. mildred st. meadowlark

        I feel like you’re nit-picking a bit here Cian.

        Nigel’s point is a good one. It’s a simple reminder that if you are concerned that the content of a play may cause you to react negatively or ‘trigger’ (good grief, I hate that phrase) to simply find out more. It seems to make a lot of sense to me, as a workable solution.

        1. Cian

          We’ll agree to differ. I think it is a sop.
          That particular page doesn’t seem to be linked from any plays – I can’t see how one would find it.
          The people that this is aimed at need to actively search for it. I personally think that if someone is sensitive to a particular theme (that would cause extreme distress) they would call the boxoffice before going looking online for this type of thing.

          Cinema is easy – there are a small number of movies and they get reviewed extensively. So you know where you stand.
          But the very nature of theatre (large quantity, short runs) means that it is more difficult to know what a particular play about. And the staff (especially in box office) are brilliant at helping people.

          1. Nigel

            Whether it’s a sop or not will really depend on how it actually works in practice, so it’s hard to judge. In principle it seems like a decent approach.

          2. Cian

            I suppose my thinking is:
            If someone is not aware that they are likely to be triggered, then this trigger warning is no use – as they wouldn’t think it applies to them – so wouldn’t look for it.

            If someone is aware that they are likely to be triggered, then this trigger warning is not needed – because they would have double-checked with the theatre as a matter of course.

            Hence me thinking that it is a sop.

          3. E

            This is actually a reply to your comment further down.

            “If someone is not aware that they are likely to be triggered, then this trigger warning is no use – as they wouldn’t think it applies to them – so wouldn’t look for it.”

            Nigel has absolutely nailed it, while I dislike the word “trigger” it is necessary for some people that have suffered trauma. Recently read a thread on a fitness forum from a girl that had been attacked years previously, thought she had completely dealt with it, went to some kind of krav maga class ( or something similar ) and once she was put into a hold she completely broke down. Had to leave the class.. and suffered from anxiety afterwards. She hadn’t thought about the attack for years, but something was triggered in her. Human’s are strange things, and our brains love to fuck with us. That is why they need these warnings.

          4. Nigel

            Even if you know you have triggers, a notice from the venue declaring that such inquiries are expected and welcome must be encouraging in a world where ‘triggered’ has become a word of mockery and people who are triggered are labeled as snowflakes.

          5. Cian

            @E: Look, I’m not denying that certain things can trigger deep emotions – I totally get that.

            But to take your example of the woman in that krav maga class.
            Do you think a generic warning on the health centre website would have made any difference to that woman? Note: I’m specifying the health centre rather than explicitly on the krav maga class.
            “We’re conscious certain physical situations can be particularly distressing for some individuals. If there are certain physical situations that you know would cause you extreme distress and you’d like to speak to one of the Fitness team to find out more about a course before you book, you can call us on xxxx xxx”

            I’m just doubtful that the bland message on a website would in any way be useful to anyone – it’s too generic.

            Now, if this message were linked specifically to the krav maga class “warning: these classes involve close physical contact and you may be restrained or pinned down” then it would be fine (or in the theatre case if it were flagged on specific plays that may trigger people).

          6. Nigel

            Cian there are loads of things that can’t be controlled for, like the krav maga class, and some that can, like flagging or checking for potential triggers in a scripted performance. The blandness you object to suggests to me a process of normalisation that cuts against the increased stigmatisation that now goes with trigger warnings and being triggered.

    2. Clampers Outside!

      ” It is demonstrably true that the quickest and most lasting way to recover from the symptoms of PTSD is to expose yourself carefully and with compassion to the world in all its potential danger. Avoiding things that might trigger you just in case you have to face unpleasant symptoms only increases the power those symptoms have over you, and the intensity with which you experience them. ”

      I had an experience which two counselors described as a “ptsd break”. I recovered, and my own recovery I know was down to exposure to the problem. Not all ptsd is the same, and recovery can vary, I know that.
      But to suggest, without evidence, that ‘safe spaces’ and ‘trigger warnings’ are beneficial to ptsd sufferers when evidence already shows the contrary, I’m aghast….

      Above quote from here (the couple of comments are also worth a read) :


      1. E

        This is a quote from the second article you posted.

        “Safe spaces are now the stuff of mockery, and those trying to recover from genuine trauma so they can go through life quite peacefully are lumped in with those who claim to be ‘triggered’ by stuff they merely disagree with. As those who are actually ‘triggered’ by certain things know, avoiding those things just makes life miserable and awkward: it’s far better to confront them, possibly even in a ‘safe space’ with some professionals.”

        Your suggestion of tackling these things is absolutely valid. But each person needs to do that in their own time, and preferably with the help of a professional, and as you said “carefully”. Not as a surprise when they go out to a play with friends. Which is what could happen if these warnings didn’t exist. Maybe they are in the process of working through things, maybe they aren’t ready, maybe they have but still would like to know.

      2. Nigel

        Surely the point here is the person themselves is in the position of knowing what’s best for themselves and can therefore check if they feel it’s necessary.

  3. Murtles

    Yes, I’m allergic to people rustling bags or sweets at key or quiet moments in plays like it was a flippin panto or something. You’re an adult, join in the theatre spirit and act like one. And what part of turn off your phone do you not understand.

    1. Janet, I ate my Avatar

      you’d swear some people would go into meltdown if they haven’t put something on thier mouths on the hour every hour

  4. ivan

    Like Declan above, I’d be inclined to eye-roll but…

    yeah, it makes sense. I’m a coeliac; it’s not unheard of for me to ring a restaurant I’m interested in eating in later on and ask whether the grub is safe or not. It’s a lot easier than rocking up, sitting down, ordering a drink and then seeing that it’s not for me.

    1. Cian

      ivan – But do you actually need the restaurant to have a webpage that says something like:

      “We’re conscious certain foods can be particularly distressing for some individuals. If there are certain ingredients that you know would cause you extreme distress or allergies which could cause you discomfort and you’d like to speak to one of the Restaurant team to find out more about a dish before you book, you can call us on xxxx xxx”

      1. ivan

        I wouldn’t expect them to have a page but as somebody who’d benefit (or at least wouldn’t be adversely affected by a restaurant saying ‘we welcome you to ring us and ask us if you’re afraid of getting glutened and having the scutters for a week) I wouldn’t see it as a bad thing if they did.

      2. The Ghost of Starina

        that kind of message tells me the restaurant actually gives a sh*t about whether or not I might die from eating something there. You’d be surprised the amount of times you ask the waiter “are there nuts in this cake (or whatever)?” they shrug and go, no, and you’re two bites in and realise the base is made entirely from nuts. A restaurant having a warning message on their website or menu indicates that at least SOMEONE in their kitchen has considered the potential allergens.

  5. Dublin Bus Smoker

    Punter: “Excuse me, but I saw your trigger warning – I have a nut allergy”
    Host: “Just let me check the cast list for you”

  6. Dublin Bus Smoker

    The IFI has an F rating. So you know you’re doing the right thing by going to a movie for/about//has/by women. Or not.

    “The Irish Film Institute is proud to introduce the F-rating to its monthly and festival programming. Any film that is directed by a woman, and/or is written by a woman, and/or features significant women on screen in their own right will receive an F-rating.”

    I thought it meant something else.


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