I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Content Warning

Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is best for ages 16 and up.

New York City Children’s Theater is proud to present Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Birds Sings. As a theater, we believe that Ms. Angelou’s story belongs onstage, a story of resilience and one woman’s journey to find her voice.

To truthfully present Ms. Angelou’s work to the fullest, we have chosen to address material and thematic elements we have not in the past. To best serve our community, we have partnered with mental health professionals to determine the following content warning:

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings contains material that may be harmful or triggering to some audiences. The performance contains verbalized child sexual violence, verbalized sexual violence, racism and racist slurs, and violent imagery, which may be activating to some viewers and is inappropriate for young children. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.

If you’d like to speak to a member of the NYCCT team to find out more about the specifics of these scenes before you purchase tickets, please email us at boxoffice@nycchildrenstheater.org or view online.


If you have been affected by any of the issues in this production or want resources on how to talk to the young person in your life about these issues, you can find support and more information here:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • The Trevor Project (LGBTQ+ support) : 1-866-488-7386
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) | TTY: 1-800-787-3224 | text 88788
  • Child Abuse reporting line (NY): 1-800-342-3720
  • Child Abuse reporting line (NJ): 1-800-NJ-Abuse (652-2873) | TTY: 1800-853-5510
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN): 1-800-656-4673
  • Racial Equity Support Line: 1-503-575-3764

Additional Resources:

Content Warning Scene Breakdown

The mental health and wellbeing of our audiences is a top priority for New York City Children’s Theater. We share this content warning, not to scare, but as an act of care and support for members of our community who may benefit from knowing what to expect from the heavier moments in our production of Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Moments of activation, or triggers, cannot always be predicted, but we hope that this information helps patrons take care of themselves while engaging with meaningful theater.

Overarching Themes
  • Racism (specifically in the United States South)
  • Racial Slurs
  • Hate Crimes
  • Segregation
  • Rape
  • Slavery
Specific Moments

In Order of Occurrence

  • Verbal recounting of racist/racialized violence, mention of Ku Klux Klan
  • Verbal mention of lynching
  • Verbalized account of child rape; not visuallly dipicted. Auditory representation of a masculine voice whispering, an inhale and an exhale of breath.
  • Verbal mention of sexual assaulter being “found dead” & “some say he was kicked to death”.
  • Lynching, whipping, rape, other racialized violence recounted in a list. Not spoken about in detail, only listed.
  • Verbal recounting of the character Bailey seeing and interacting with a “ rotten dead Negro”. Only verbalized, no images. Details of the situation are discussed, no details about the body.


NYCCT’s content warning was written by Jill Siletski, ABD psychologist with a background in the performing arts and theater, supervised by Dr. Anissa Moody, a licensed psychologist. Ms. Siletski and Dr. Moody also compiled the resources listed above.

The suggested age range was determined in consultation with several experts, including Ms. Siletski and Dr. Moody, child psychologists, social workers, and high school teachers.

Purchase Tickets

Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will be playing at Theatre Row from Friday, May 20th – Sunday, June 5th

Best for ages 16 and up.

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