Taking risks: Victoria theatre expert and author gains traction for his new model of tragedy

Edwin Wong releases Risk Theatre book, hosts successful global playwriting competition

By Rae Porter

Monday Magazine contributor

There’s something of a theatrical revolution happening within the quiet, shady streets of the Rockland neighbourhood.

Plumber by day, award-winning classicist by night, Edwin Wong has brought the ancient art of tragic theatre smack-bang into the 21st century with his self-published book, The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy: Gambling, Drama, and the Unexpected (Friesen Press 2019).

The Risk Theatre model re-brands and re-frames tragedy as a high stakes game of chance where protagonists place high-risk bets; be they essential human values, friendships and relationships, or their own dignity and integrity, against unexpected outcomes.

Shrugging off any misconceptions that this is purely an academic tome, Wong keeps the pace trotting forward at a smart clip; laying out his ideas clearly and concisely, while providing a detailed lens by which to interpret classic tragedy (think Macbeth and Oedipus of yore) and a template by which new works can be created for a modern audience. The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy is currently sitting on library shelves, from the University of Victoria all the way to the Russian National Library in Moscow, with plans to be in 50 more by the end of the year.

In celebration of the publication, Wong teamed up with Langham Court Theatre, Canada’s oldest community theatre company, and launched a global search for the next great tragedy.

“A lot of people are afraid to write tragedy,” Wong says. “It’s old, it’s mysterious, it’s about kings and queens; the one-per-centers, and for today’s audience that’s not very popular.”

READ ALSO: 250th Free Little Library installed in Victoria

He enlisted the help of Langham general manager Michelle Buck; Keith Digby, an accomplished playwright and screenwriter, and playwright/director Michael Armstrong to run the competition. Wong believed there would be interest from Canadian playwrights and expected “about 50 entries or so. We got 182 playwrights from 11 countries entering.”

The eventual winner was New York/Austin based playwright Gabriel Jason Dean with his piece In Bloom. Set to the backdrop of the war in Afghanistan, In Bloom follows Aaron, a documentary filmmaker, and his journey to tell the truth, precariously balancing between altruism and imperialism.

As part of his competition prize, Dean will be flown out to Victoria to take part in a professionally led workshop, culminating in the staged reading of his winning play before a live audience at Langham Court Theatre on Sunday, Oct. 20 (watch for more details later).

Already, the call is out for submissions for the 2020 competition, with an increased prize package.

Wong hopes the competition continues to grow; providing a platform for playwrights, be they new or established, and all while keeping the dramatic spotlight directly on Victoria.

“We punch above our weight when it comes to arts and culture,” he says “As for the competition, with a fantastic theatre behind you and a playwriting blueprint to follow – well, it is a great reason to bring the world here!”

As far as risks go, this is one seems to have paid off.



editor@mondaymag.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Live theatre

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Garden-sharing map connects Victoria landowners and gardeners

U-Map created by Young Agrarians after COVID-19 created uptick in garden matching requests

Saanich wins award for climate plan cut from 2020 budget

‘It’s truly an exceptional plan,’ says councillor disappointed with lack of funding

Oak Bay Grade 8 students end time at Monterey with drive-through goodbye

School holds socially-distanced completion ceremony

CRD warns of toxic algae bloom at Thetis Lake Regional Park

Visitors advised to avoid swimming in lake, keep pets out of water

Saanich police, pound respond to possible cougar sighting

Cougar possibly seen in area of 4500-block of Chatterton Way

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read