Theatre as a Safe Space: Simon Callow’s Stance on Trigger Warnings

Theatre as a Safe Space: Simon Callow’s Stance on Trigger Warnings

…By Judah Olanisebee for TDPel Media.

Simon Callow’s Stance on Trigger Warnings in Theatre: Embracing the Crucible of Human Experience


Renowned British actor Simon Callow has voiced his opposition to the use of trigger warnings in theatre, emphasizing that theatre is meant to be a “safe space.”

His perspective comes in response to a theatre’s decision to forewarn audience members about sensitive themes in its production of The Sound Of Music.

In a letter to The Times newspaper, Callow argues that the essence of theatre lies in its exploration of the human condition, rather than serving as a platform for behavioral instruction.


The Crucible of Human Experience: According to Callow, the theatre serves as a crucible wherein we delve into the complexities of what it means to be human.

Rather than a pulpit for preaching, it is a gymnasium of the imagination.

Callow asserts that theatre inherently offers a safe space precisely because its artificial nature is evident—the stage is populated by actors, sets, and artificial lighting, all serving as a conduit for the imaginative experience.

Rejecting the Need for Trigger Warnings: Callow expresses his reservations about the practice of providing trigger warnings in theatre.

He contends that the fundamental purpose of theatre is to engage the audience’s imagination, enabling them to distinguish between the fictional world portrayed on stage and reality.


Callow highlights that characters like Hamlet and Falstaff, though facing challenges, ultimately exist within the realm of imagination and performance, emphasizing that they will not truly suffer harm.

The Case of Chichester Festival Theatre: The specific incident that prompted Callow’s letter involved Chichester Festival Theatre (CFT) cautioning audience members about the content and themes of its production of The Sound Of Music.

The theatre aimed to create a welcoming and comfortable environment while acknowledging that certain themes might be distressing to some.

However, Callow’s response challenges the necessity of such warnings, advocating for an open and unfiltered exploration of human experiences within the theatrical realm.

Conclusion: Simon Callow’s argument against trigger warnings in theatre sheds light on the ongoing debate surrounding the role of warnings in art.


He asserts that theatre, as an imaginative and fictional space, inherently provides a safe environment for exploring the depths of the human condition.

By encouraging audiences to embrace the crucible of human experience without preemptive warnings, Callow champions the power of theatre to engage, challenge, and enlighten its spectators.

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