Trigger warning: “Measure Back,” by T. Ryder Smith and Chris McElroen.Posted: December 3, 2013
T. Ryder Smith and his collaborator, Chris McElroen, didn’t include any trigger warnings with their current touring production of “Measure Back,” a play that aims “to examine the ubiquity of war.” This post isn’t meant to be a review. It’s just meant to be a public service. The production sponsored by Duke Performances included:
(1) Inviting a female audience member onstage and asking her whether she knew anyone who’d been raped.
(2) Putting a dog collar around a female character in a hijab and telling an audience member to hold the leash.
(3) The rape of a “foreign” female by an American soldier with a power drill.
(4) The main character/actor asking audience members what their father’s names were. When a Black woman answered “I don’t know,” the character/actor said, “That’s common among your race, isn’t it?”
These were only a handful of the confrontational situations audience members were forced into, without their knowledge or consent.
As for trigger warnings in general: the people who would avoid an event because of a trigger warning are the same people an artist would permanently alienate for violating their trust by not providing a trigger warning. The artist loses nothing.