Manifesto

Jurors are instructed to judge plays solely on the criteria laid out on the Homepage and the Guidelines page of this website. Knowledge of my book will not increase your chances of winning. In other words, if you’re thinking about entering the competition, you don’t need it. But, having said that, I hope that you will want to read it. My book is a drama manifesto called The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy: Gambling, Drama, and the Unexpected. Thirteen years in the writing, Friesen Press released it in February 2019. It is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Chapters. It is available in store at Bolen Books. My Goodreads page is here. All proceeds from the book go towards funding the playwright competition.

Why would you want to read The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy? If you’ve ever wondered why tragedies—difficult works of drama full of strife and sorrow—are endearing to the human heart, this book is for you. For over two millennia, this question has haunted inquiring minds from Aristotle to Hegel and Nietzsche. Their answers have turned tragedy into a springboard into exploring the most fundamental human concerns.

In my book, I challenge conventional Aristotelian, Hegelian, and Nietzschean theories of tragedy. Instead of looking at tragedy as the interplay between the Dionysian and Apollonian (Nietzsche), the collision between irreconcilable ethical forces (Hegel), or a process to achieve catharsis (Aristotle), I argue that each dramatic act in tragedy is also a gambling act where heroes place delirious bets at the no-limit tables. These heroes, by going all-in, trigger unexpected and devastating outcomes. Tragedy is a theatre of risk.

With numerous examples from well-known plays such as Macbeth and Death of a Salesman to lesser known gems such as Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes, I demonstrate how protagonists wager their human assets from dignity to “the milk of human kindness” to achieve their aims, whether it be the American Dream or a Scottish crown. In this way, the book becomes an extended discussion of human value and the precious things that money can’t buy. Tragedy functions as a valuing mechanism.

If this writeup has piqued your interest, I hope that you will support the competition by picking up a copy or asking your local library to consider carrying it. Let’s work together to make the Risk Theatre Modern Tragedy Competition an incredible opportunity for playwrights for years to come.

PRAISE FOR THE RISK THEATRE MODEL OF TRAGEDY

***** Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! Stunning! I had to re-read the “The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy” by Edwin Wong. It was too good. It is a delight to recreate the possible scenarios exposed by the author in a very original thematic treatment of theater that invites further discussion and analysis. It is also a compendium of high academic and cogent discourse, a complete high level ‘theory’ on how to model and perform stage plays. He couples it with almost a ‘how-to’ reference guide on how to produce compelling theater by presenting the reader with an exhaustive analysis and classification of different facets of prior stage productions, from the Greek classics to modern times’ productions. The book is chock’full of insights and intriguing revelations. Edwin draws a narrative comparing and contrasting different elements of risk and relates these to modern audiences. The author’s vast breadth of knowledge, drawing upon his years of experience as a theatre critic and forward thinker in the performing arts world has crafted together a robust tome with incredible completeness and complexity – which should be on every aspiring playwright’s desk. I can anticipate a wave of theater academics referencing this book in their class syllabus.

Conchita, on Amazon

***** If you haven’t read a scholarly book in a while and you feel that your brains are getting rusty, I recommend THE RISK MODEL of TRAGEDY. It manages to be highbrow but lucid, free of the cant of so much modern critical theory. The theatrical genre of tragedy was deemed to be needed along with comedy in ancient Greece, Elizabethan England, and should be re-invented in the USA today, if we truly want to be great. What are we afraid of?

Daniel Curzon, on Barnes & Noble