Matt Smith on theatre trigger warning debate: ‘Isn’t art meant to be dangerous?’

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British actor Matt Smith has said he agrees with Ralph Fiennes that trigger warnings in theatres should be scrapped.

The 41-year-old, known for his role in The Crown and currently starring in West End play An Enemy Of The People, said people go to the theatre “to be shocked” and “arrested”.

Speaking on BBC One’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg, Smith said he agreed with actor Fiennes, 61, who said audiences at the theatre should be “shocked and disturbed”.

The House of Dragons star said: “I agree. I watched it, I agree with Ralph utterly and completely. 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 acknowledged the importance of alerts for things like strobe lighting, which can trigger seizures for those with epilepsy. However, he suggested that additional audience warnings could detract from the theatrical experience.

Ralph Fiennes reignited the debate earlier this month (Dave Benett)
Ralph Fiennes reignited the debate earlier this month (Dave Benett)

He continued; “But 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?”

Smith played Doctor Who from 2010 to 2013 and argued that the absence of trigger warnings from the show was a significant factor in its widespread appeal.

“It’s like, I always thought that was one of the great things of doing Doctor Who is that you scare children but in a controlled way.

“But you did scare them.

“I mean imagine going to kids watching Doctor Who ‘By the way this might scare you’. No, I’m not into it.”

Fiennes reignited the debate on the same BBC program earlier this month as he discussed his current role in a touring production of Macbeth.

He said: “I think we didn’t use to have trigger warnings. I mean, they are very disturbing scenes in Macbeth, terrible murders and things.

“But I think the impact of theatre should be that you’re shocked and you should be disturbed. I don’t think you should be prepared for these things and when I was young, [we] never had trigger warnings for shows.”