Book 2, new in 2022!

The competition is based on my new theory of tragedy called risk theatre. Because highly improbable events shape life, I wrote a book to make risk the dramatic fulcrum of the action in tragedy. Thirteen years in the writing, my award-winning book: The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters and wherever books are sold. If you enjoy a rich baritone voice, it’s available on audiobook, narrated by Coronation Street star Greg Patmore. The goal of the risk theatre project is to inaugurate a tragic age in storytelling, drama, and literature by aligning tragedy with 21st century ideas of chance, probability, and uncertainty. Join us in this unique exploration of risk.

If you’d like to explore the impact of low-probability, high-consequence events in life and in art, my book is for you. If you’ve ever wondered why tragedies–difficult works full of strife and sorrow–are so endearing, my book is for you. For over two millennia, this question has haunted inquiring minds from Aristotle to Hegel and Nietzsche. My book gives you a new take: it’s not suffering that makes tragedy timeless, but risk. Tragedy tells the story of how heroes trigger unexpected and devastating outcomes by wagering all-in. The lure of risk draws us in.

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. Readers love my book because it does the impossible: it presents literary theory in a straightforward and immediate language. Read my book and see for yourself if this is literary theory’s finest hour.

Please support the competition by picking up a copy of my book. Better yet, ask your local library to carry it. Let’s work together to make the Risk Theatre Modern Tragedy Competition an incredible opportunity for playwrights for years to come. My Goodreads page is here. You can find me on Twitter here, on Facebook here, and on LinkedIn here.

YouTube link to Edwin speaking at the National New Play Network (NNPN) panel Theater & Crisis

YouTube link to Edwin speaking at the Classical Association of the Middle West and South (CAMWS) AGM on the intersection between probability theory and tragedy in Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes


Beautifully written, original, and compelling . . . an Aristotle for the 21st century.

David Konstan – Brown University

The author’s passion for his subject comes across in nearly every statement . . . An ambitious, thought-provoking critique of tragedy in the 21st century. (click here for full review)

Kirkus Reviews

A useful resource, particularly for theatre studies and secondary drama teachers . . . Extremely engaging and impossible to put down.

NJ Drama Australia Journal

A Vision that has been a long time coming . . . a fresh, distinctive method for analyzing and staging tragedies . . . valuable for scholars, directors, and playwrights.

Theatre History Studies Journal

If you love literature–theater, film, novels, history, biography, opera, whatever–you need to read this extraordinary work . . . Read it–twice. You will never read another work of literature the same way.

Charlie Euchner – Columbia University

An insightful and compelling read . . . Through the art of reinterpretation, Wong manages to present a bold, inventive new model of theatre through the lens of risk.

Broadway World UK

I’ve been dealing with theatre actively and academically for many years, and the idea of ‘tragedy’ was wrapped in the mystique of motivations and nobility and flaws that put it out of reach for me as a playwright. This book strips away the mystique and makes the form available to me. Seeing risk as the fulcrum of the action clears my head and lets me see contemporary situations and conflicts in the light of risk and potential tragedy.

Donald Connolly, playwright and two-time Academy Award nominee – Goodreads

If you like Taleb or Nietzsche, and have a liking for the arts, check it out! . . . It has some of the punchy and mentally adventurous qualities of Taleb.

Philo – Amazon

*****THE RISK THEATRE MODEL IS A COMPELLING REINVENTION OF DRAMATIC STORYTELLING Edwin Wong has reinvigorated the ancient art of tragedy through his compelling Risk Theatre lens. Bravo! At heart, the book is a call to action for dramatists in our modern era to reinvent tragedy to address our brave new world of mesmerizing cacophony and unfathomable consequences. This is a fascinating read for anyone–but a “must read” for modern storytellers.

Roger Walker – Amazon

****Fascinating side topics, including the invention of the concept of money and how it led to tragedies being boiled down to the price of life itself, are covered . . . Making the case for risk theory as a new definition for tragic theater, The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy is a piquant, far-reaching study of tragedy as an art form.

Foreword Clarion Reviews

*****IF YOU EVER PLAN TO WRITE, READ OR ACT IN A TRAGEDY THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU! The author writes that ‘after two and a half millennia, tragedy is still a term in search of a definition’. He interestingly describes how each age creates its own model. The ancients ‘assigned the unexpected outcome to the will of the gods’ while the Elizabethans established ‘the first great age of tragedy in the era of probability’. Mr. Wong provides a model for our highly technological time where ‘the possibility of doing great good or evil has increased’ where ‘the unexpected always prevails’. He makes a very convincing case that the study of tragedy enhances our understanding of life and its value. As did I, readers of this highly stimulating book will undoubtedly ask themselves what they would be willing to wager in their lives and for what. As an actor who has performed in tragedies, and a playwright who has attempted to write one, I know that this is a book to which I will often refer.
PS: Be sure to read the footnotes which are chock full of good stuff from Wild Bill Hickok anecdotes to the link between tragedy and goats! Tragedy will rise again!!

Alan Thurston – Barnes & Noble

*****INNOVATIVE, ENGAGING, & VERY THOUGHT PROVOKING! Wong’s insightful and excellently-sourced treatise on ‘risk theatre’ reframes our understanding of tragedy in terms of how hero’s (often flawed) analysis of risks and rewards prompts them to make decisions that set actions in motion leading to their tragic outcomes. He organizes information so effectively, providing relevant examples from classical and modern drama. You are never bogged down in the philosophy- rather, you are encouraged to expand how this new framework will inspire NEW content. Wong is hopeful in his desire to push the bounds of what modern tragedy will look like, and readers of this text and playwrights inspired by it are better for it!

Emily McClain – Amazon

*****I think that THE RISK THEATRE MODEL OF TRAGEDY by Edwin Wong will be enjoyed by both writers and people who enjoy great drama. For myself, I enjoyed being able to read it a few days before I am to travel to Los Angeles to see a play. Personally, I feel what I learned while reading this will give me a greater perspective on the play. I will be able to view it with more depth. I think that this book would be a great resource for critical thinking courses such as a class on analytical reading.

Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

*****I have just finished reading Edwin Wong’s THE RISK THEATRE MODEL OF TRAGEDY and, although I was initially skeptical of his bold claim of an original theory of tragic drama, I was intrigued at the prospect of reading about this classicist’s main belief. As I turned the pages his theory grew on me and I found myself both convinced and gripped by this new perspective on tragedy. His low- probability, high-consequence outcome theory does indeed resonate with the risk takers of today and I thoroughly recommend this scholarly work to anyone interested in both theatrical and real life tragedy based on risk. As the author himself writes, ‘A working model of tragedy that is both original and rooted in tradition.’ 

A remarkable book in every way. A must for every serious dramatist to read, ponder over and act upon.

David Duncan – Goodreads

*****AN IMPORTANT WORK ON A FASCINATING TOPIC I loved this book! The author is a fan of my favorite playwright, Eugene O’Neill, and even quotes one of my favorite passages from LONG DAYS JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, where James O’Neill laments sacrificing his career for money, and wonders what is was he wanted.
The book itself is an entertaining and insightful reimagining of a model for modern tragedy – Risk Theater – into today’s world of technology and global risk. I think this is an interesting premise, as the modern tragic heroes are not kings but hedge fund managers and tech moguls, playing games of chance that risk the lives of people around the world.
The author has a deep knowledge of the classics which he utilizes to build a guidebook for how playwrights can use the concepts of existential gambles, unexpected events, and ‘the price you pay’. I particularly liked his theory or counter monetization, a welcome answer to a society that too often worships money at the expense of deeper values, and how that relates to a modern way of looking at tragedy.
The Risk Theater Model of Tragedy offers a fresh perspective not only of the classical theater but more importantly how we can restructure the old paradigms in a way that speaks to modern audiences. It’s an important work, and will hopefully inspire playwrights everywhere to reimagine classical themes in a dynamic and exciting ways.

Mike – Amazon

****Anyone who has taken a story writing or screenplay class in America has likely come across The Hero With a Thousand Faces at some point. If not the exact book itself, then another author has often either borrowed quotes or elements of Campbell’s classic hero’s journey. Some teachers consider it inseparable to modern cinema and media; it’s just about everywhere.
But if Campbell’s ideas cause resistance—which is becoming a trend nowadays, in my personal experience at least—Wong’s smooth model may be a wiser introduction. Campbell’s form may get learners lost in the message, the process, and the terminology for understanding a work. Wong’s methodology encourages a focused structure for a character’s thought processes throughout the story. It’s through establishing their personal risks and the consequences of their actions that there can be a real momentum. For me, and I’m sure others, that is the best-if-felt heart. Makes a story beat and dance with life.
Sure, Wong arranges his processes for the tragedy genre in mind, so there are certain constraints that may not apply. Like a fateful mishap tripping the heroes’ supposed victory and leading to a death may not be appropriate for a children’s book. But I believe most of Wong’s proposed techniques can be used for anything that has a story. I’d recommend this for anyone who wants to write or needs a refresher on character building, not just in the theater world too. Useful framing device if you’re feeling stuck.
The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedyis a nimble read. If I were to criticize the writing, it’s close to a dry textbook with cohesive examples. Depending on the type of reader you are, that might mean a fascinating analysis or a snore fest. Several popular Shakespearean examples too, so that might not be up your alley to reread if you’ve already read so much of Shakespeare.
For me though, I enjoyed the overall experience and I learned something. If I lived in LA, I’d be up to seeing it in persontoo. Maybe someday, eh?
I received the book for free through Goodreads Giveaways.

Cavak – Goodreads

*****THE RISK THEATRE MODEL OF TRAGEDY is a fascinating dissection of tragic theater, focusing on both universal themes and specific tragedy models and is a must-read for any ‘theater geek’.

Kent Page McGroarty for IndieReader

*****A VERY INTERESTING READ Interesting review of risk as related to everyday life.

Gordjohn – Amazon

***** A POWERFUL TOOL FOR WRITERS As an emerging playwright challenged to write high stakes drama that often has tragic consequences, I am grateful to Edwin Wong for his book, The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy. It gives me a powerful tool and template to write modern tragedy. It belongs on every playwright’s desk.

Marc Littman (playwright) – Amazon

***** 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 – 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 – Barnes & Noble

Theatre analyzed in terms of risk! What a very clever way of looking at things.

Wishing Shelf Book Awards Reviewer

A wonderful, lucid read–erudite, nimble, and approachable. I read the whole book in two days. The author’s goal is to clarify ideas and not muddy them, and in this he succeeds. A rare and refreshing thing in today’s universe of bizarro literary criticism.

Kenny Jay – Facebook

Wong constructs his Risk Theatre model with clarity and with a passion for the subject matter that is infectious. A fascinating read.

Vishesh Abeyratne – Facebook

Wong presents an original theory of tragedy that resonates with our modern age.

Joy Huebert for Island Writer

Wong’s Risk Theatre is a well thought out and flexible structure built with the intention of reviving tragic theatre of the past using modern allegories and scenarios. With his unique model, he poses that nothing worth anything can be gained without considerable risk.

Mike Routliffe – Goodreads

Edwin Wong has written a masterpiece. His writing is clear, extremely well-researched and presented in a very engaging manner. His risk theatre model captures the readers’ imagination and is presented in a way that appeals to the academic and the layperson.

Esther – Goodreads

A most excellent and original work regarding tragedy from the perspective of risks and consequences and how it intersects and reflects within our rapidly evolving world. A book of insights that will be invaluable to theatregoers, writers, directors, actors or as an engaging college text. Highly recommended!

Steve Romagnoli – Goodreads

Excellent. Somewhat of a modernised POETICS (Aristotle).

Bruce – Goodreads

Innovative 21st century look at bringing classic tragedy (Greek and Elizabethan mainly) into the modern Chaotic universe.

Robin Rowland – Goodreads

A fascinating exploration advocating for the resurgence of the classical art form of tragedy in these tumultuous times . . . A nearly bulletproof argument for tragedy’s rebirth under the name of Risk Theatre.

Editor – Friesen Press

The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy is a book that will interest both specialists and book lovers who want to know ‘how it works’. It is also a recommended reading for modern risk takers.

Astrid Iustulin for Readers’ Favorite

This is a fresh new way to approach tragedy. I was most struck by the definition of the word ‘tragedy’ and how is has not had a consistent layman or academic definition, especially due to its etymology.

G. S-P

Winner in the Colorado Independent Publishers Association CIPA EVVY Awards

Winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards

Winner in the Readers’ Favorite Book Award Contest

Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist

Wishing Shelf Book Awards (UK) Finalist

Winner in the National Indie Excellence Awards (NIEA)

Foreword Indies Book of the Year Finalist

Winner in the IndieReader Discovery Awards (IRDA)