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Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer says theatre audiences should be 'treated in an adult way' despite campaigners insisting that trigger warnings are an important tool for improving accessibility.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer
Lucy Frazer says theatre audiences should be 'treated like adults'

UK Government

Theatre productions involving "uncomfortable issues" should not require a trigger warning, Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has said.

“If you go to see Macbeth, you pretty much know before you’re going in that it’s going to contain uncomfortable issues," she said in an interview with The Sun.

“I think we should treat people who go to the theatre in an adult way.”


Frazer also said historical literature should not be rewritten because it contains contentious material.

In reference to controversy over the rewriting of work by children's author Roald Dahl and James Bond creator Ian Fleming, the Culture Secretary said: "I do not think our literature should be whitewashed.

"It’s really important that when you read something, we’re not overprotecting the public."

'Audiences too soft'

Frazer's comments follow a number of actors speaking out against the concept of trigger warnings, with Ralph Fiennes telling journalist Laura Kuenssberg that they should be banned, adding that theatre audiences have "gone too soft".

His comments were echoed by Matt Smith, who said he was concerned by "moving towards a sanitised version of everything".

"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," he said.

However, figures within the creative sector say trigger warnings are an important safety tool.

Writing for Arts Professional, theatre maker Fiona Moon said that, with one in three people in the UK experiencing traumatic events in their lifetime, trigger warnings can give audiences autonomy, helping them make informed decisions about whether the piece is right for them at that time.

"While not everyone who has experienced trauma will go on to develop conditions such as PTSD, it’s not just those with specific diagnoses that might benefit," she said. 

"There is a significant difference between finding something uncomfortable or offensive and being triggered. 

"Being offended may affect mood, but it isn’t usually debilitating but a full trigger response can mean days of intense emotional dysregulation, flashbacks, uncontrollable and intrusive thoughts, suicidal ideation and nightmares. 

"Surely that’s something we want to avoid for audiences."