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Trigger Warning - “a white knuckle ride in form and content”

In the ‘Top 10 Collins Words of the Year 2016’ Trumpism, mic drop and throw shade made the list, as well as Brexit, dude food and...snowflake generation. The latter has been adopted by many on the right, and many of those who are of a mature generation, to describe the modern day “liberal tears” of millenials. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Camden People’s Theatre in London explores political correctness and the culture of offence through the lens of so-called ‘Generation Snowflake’ with its Autumn festivalHandle With Care.    

Running until November 9th the festival asks the question are we “hyper-sensitive” and too easily offended as some tabloids and pundits preach (I’ve intentionally left out any names)? Aiming its crosshairs at this specific subject, EUROTRASH’s new show Trigger Warning headlines the Autumnal cultural feast. Created by award-winning playwright Marcelo Dos Santos and Natasha Nixon ‘Trigger Warning’ is described as a “pre-show disclaimer to a show you may never see” exploring the politics of safe spaces and our new found culture of offence.

From snowflakes to challenging millennial culture Dos Santos takes us through this absurdist comedy and the political questions it attacks. Trigger warning, this interview may be...triggering?

Jayson Mansary: What is ‘Trigger Warning’ trying to achieve here?
Marcelo Dos Santos: By playfully pushing at the form of a pre-show disclaimer, we’re trying to explore the logic and limits of content or trigger warnings, and in so doing open up a space for questions and discussion.  How far should we prepare or “protect” audiences? What are the responsibilities of an artist and audience member to each other? And what is behind that discussion? Within the group (Eurotrash) we have different perspectives on the issues and the show is deliberately full of complex ironies and ambiguities. We’re interested in leaning into the complexity but also very alive to the very real issues at stake for some people and the importance of care and responsibility, particularly in this current climate of general hostility. Holding the two in balance is part of the challenge but also part of the challenge we all face generally in society at the moment.

Jayson: What stage methods are you using in the performance?
Marcelo: As well as taking on a complex theme, we’re also trying to explore lots of theatrical textures and experimenting with how they interact. It’s not a play or a piece of new writing, it’s very much a blend of performance elements; movement, devising, clowning, lip synching and sound.  It’s truly a white knuckle ride in form and content.

Jayson: Do you see this show having the same reaction from say a liberal Londoner like myself versus a conservative person?
Marcelo: It will be interesting to see how people react. In researching the piece we encountered a range of views which don’t quite allow for a liberal versus conservative binary. For example, we encountered academics who I think would label themselves as very left-wing who had no truck with content warnings. The divide might be more to do with age but I also know younger people who likewise have different political perspectives on it. The complexity is interesting to us.

Jayson: ‘Snowflake’ is such a loaded term, what does it mean to you?
Marcelo: Snowflake is a loaded term and it is definitely a term used to attack and stereotype a generation and I think a lot of the media presentation is unfair. Millennials, as a generation are in a far more precarious position than their parents. I’m a millennial and I think it’s true to say we have less money, less job security, less certainty than our parents.

What baby boomers and the tabloid press sometimes call out as over-sensitivity can also be seen as genuine anxiety at the precarity of our lives and the world around us.

Jayson: Is this generation ‘too sensitive’, are we all crying too many ‘liberal tears’?
Marcelo: Having said all that about “snowflakes”, I do think there are elements to millennial culture which need thinking through and challenging; cancelled culture, for example, or the role of social media in debates, are all potentially valid targets for further scrutiny and satire. And more generally, I don’t think we should be scared or exempt from satire. In fact, that really would be just confirming the stereotype, right?

Jayson: What are the “inherent physical and psychological risks…” the narrator warns of in the production trailer?
Marcelo: Well now that would be a spoiler wouldn’t it?

Jayson: Which is more likely - I’m going to leave the show with a “new found passion for life” or “want something terrible to happen”?
Marcelo: Both? Neither? We’re in deep subjective waters here. As a company we try and be optimistic.

Jayson: Is my “safety and comfort” really your “number 1 priority”?
Marcelo: Safety is a priority. Comfort? No. Which is not to say Trigger Warning is just uncomfortable, it’s a lot of things; it’s weird and funny and sad and frustrating and silly and dark in places and makes you feel stuff, comfortable and uncomfortable and that’s what we like in art and maybe it’s what you like? If so come along.

Jayson: Beside ‘Trigger Warning’, what are you excited about on the ‘Handle With Care’ lineup?
Marcelo: Nothing Special andExploitationboth look exciting!

Jayson: Describe the following in 3 words:
Marcelo: Trigger Warning: Kitsch, Complex and Silly
               Natasha Nixon: Silly, Complex and Kitsch
               Handle with Care: Brave, unexpected, timely


Trigger Warning
Part of the Handle with care season
At Camden People's Theatre
22 October - 9 November 2019
Tickets and info: www.cptheatre.co.uk