The woke management of the Globe Theatre in London has added a trigger warning to Shakespeare’s tragedy of love and loss, Romeo and Juliet, to protect sensitive people in the audience.
Visitors to the playwright’s Elizabethan theatre, built in 1599, are given the phone numbers for mental health help centres because suicide, drug use and blood (fake) are featured in the play.
“This production contains depictions of suicide, moments of violence and references to drug use. It contains gunshot sound effects and the use of stage blood. If you have any questions or concerns about these elements, please contact our Box Office team for further information about the production.”
Thankfully, the warnings were derided as barmy and ridiculous. The Daily Express ran an inspired headline: “What fright through yonder window breaks?”
But The Globe said its production could not avoid pointing out the play’s relevance for today’s snowflakes.
If Romeo and Juliet needs trigger warnings, what is going to happen to productions of King Lear (Cornwell blinds the aged Gloucester on stage, saying “Out, vile jelly”), Hamlet (final body count nine, through drowning, poisoning, stabbing, and swordplay), or Titus Andronicus (an average of 5.2 atrocities per act, from cannibalism to rape)?
For many years fantasists have claimed that Shakespeare never actually wrote any of his plays and that he was actually Christopher Marlowe or Sir Francis Bacon or Edward de Vere or somebody else of the same name. More recently the game was deciphering his sexuality. Last year two scholars revealed that the Bard was “undeniably” bisexual. The Globe’s website features an article which opines that he was a “writer who knew that his audience and readership was sexually diverse: he was catering to the LGBT market long before such a thing had a name”.
But the Globe Theatre has put paid to such airy speculations. Shakespeare was clearly a snowflakeophobe who should be held responsible for undermining the mental health of audiences. It’s time to seriously consider creating a new species of hate crime – “audiencide”.
Eventually The Globe Theatre must surely cancel Shakespeare. Otherwise public liability insurance to protect it against claims from melting snowflakes is going to send it broke. Perhaps the Education Minister should also consider pulping all copies of the Complete Works in school libraries.
In Hamlet, Polonius, about to trick the eponymous hero, says “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.” If only there were method in the madness of woke warnings against dangerous content.
Even the Globe’s management’s common sense, it seems, cannot tell them that someone suffering from depression is hardly likely to want to watch a play featuring suicide – although Hamlet contains the best ever literary warning against suicide in the hero’s “to be or not to be” speech.
Judging from recent woke productions interpreting the Bard’s works through the modern obsessions of race, class and gender, it might at least be useful to offer counselling for depressed theatre goers – or, more usefully, a refund.
Future historians may well puzzle over why, in an age seemingly obsessed with mental health, so little is done to help people with actual mental illness. And as to combatting suicide, its benefits are effectively touted in campaigns for assisted suicide with scary (but misleading) stories about people “dying in agony”.
As to Shakespeare, his works are still the best medicine for melancholy and the most effective antidote to woke trigger warnings and the madness of snowflakery.