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Thoughts on Trigger Warnings

I believe in trigger warnings.  I believe in them, because theater artists are in charge of taking care of their audiences.  Theater is meant to be collaborative.  Audiences are lending their minds and souls to the artists, which means the artists must respect them.  All of them.

Trigger warnings can have a stigma of coddling audiences.  Sometimes it feels as though they defeat the purpose.  Theater is meant to take audiences on journeys that carry them to emotional places they never guessed.  This is true.  However, this cannot be done recklessly.  This tactic cannot ignore the fact that there are audience members who will leave scarred in a way that is hurtful to their psyches.

When someone is being triggered, they are not having break throughs on new perspectives that is overwhelming.  They are having panic attacks.  They are having flashbacks.  Their anxiety and depression is stirring.  Their minds are momentarily entering an unhealthy place which makes it impossible for them to actually witness the work.  Their emotions are not coming out of a connection to the play, but out of digging up dark moments of their past.

I am thinking a lot about this, because my play touches on topics that will need to be trigger warned.  I find myself having moments where I wish my audiences go could go in blind.  That thought only goes so far with me.  I am even more aware of the fact that this is just a play.  No play is worth sacrificing an audiences mental health.  Even if I did believe that, it would not be my place to force that onto others.


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