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Formats
Hardcover Book Details
  • 02/2022
  • 9781039135109
  • 420 pages
  • $20.99
Paperback Book Details
  • 02/2022
  • 9781039135093
  • 420 pages
  • $14.99
Ebook Details
  • 03/2022
  • 9781039135116 B09TNGV82F
  • 420 pages
  • $6.99
Edwin Wong
Author
When Life Gives You Risk, Make Risk Theatre: Three Tragedies and Six Essays
Edwin Wong, editor (anthology)
Essays on risk in life, literature, and drama plus three award-winning plays where risk is the dramatic fulcrum of the action.
Reviews
In The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy Wong argued that it’s risk rather than hamartia, catharsis, or other ancient formulations that power theatrical tragedy—and that make tragic drama resonate for us today. Aiming “to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build and to plant,” as he puts it in this ambitious new volume, he set out to “reset” tragedy in theory and practice. Here he leads by example, as Wong, founder of the Risk Theatre Modern Tragedy Competition, collects three strong new tragedies that “simulate, explore, and understand risk” and pens six essays that dig deeper into his theory of risk theater and address critics head on.

To that end, Wong takes on Aristotle and the concept of a hero’s tragic flaw, which suggests that tragedy can be avoided. Risk Theatre, by contrast, posits that the tragic hero is brought down by chance, not error, an argument he backs up with evidence from classic tragedies (Shakespeare, Euripides, Aeschylus, Arthur Miller, even Thomas Hardy) and with contemporary life, including Covid-19 and the crash of 2008. “By simulating risk and uncertainty, tragedy is our Muse in times of crisis,” he writes; elsewhere, he notes that “the art that dramatizes downside risk may be a source of wisdom.”

Wong writes with persuasive power, wide-ranging interests, a playful wit, and the zeal of a convert. The included plays, all finalists or winners of the Risk competition, illuminate, reinforce, and occasionally challenge his conception. Wrenching yet sensitive, Gabriel Jason Dean’s In Bloom finds an American documentarian in Afghanistan, where he becomes obsessed with a bacha bi reesh, a “beardless boy” who, like many others, performs sensual dances for local warlords. Nicholas Dunn’s provocative, often comic The Value finds art thieves holed up after a score, confronting their worth, while Emily McClain’s Children of Combs and Watch Chains offers a bracingly dark and inspired update of “The Gift of the Magi.”

Takeaway: Wong backs up his stimulating theory of tragedy as risk with striking essays and plays.

Great for fans of: Robert J. Andreach’s Tragedy in the Contemporary American Theatre, Raymond Williams’s Modern Tragedy.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Foreword Clarion

"The plays are compelling...a fascinating discussion of drama."

Robert C. Evans, I.B. Young Professor of English at Auburn University at Montgom

"Independent and provocative."

Formats
Hardcover Book Details
  • 02/2022
  • 9781039135109
  • 420 pages
  • $20.99
Paperback Book Details
  • 02/2022
  • 9781039135093
  • 420 pages
  • $14.99
Ebook Details
  • 03/2022
  • 9781039135116 B09TNGV82F
  • 420 pages
  • $6.99

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