Edwin Wong
Friesen Press (2019)
ISBN 9781525537561
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (06/19)

In “The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy,” author Edwin Wong brings tragedy into the 21st century.  Tragedy imitates reality. Yet in our modern times, tragedy no longer has the same impact that it used to have.

The last great tragedies were written a very long time ago. To help tragedy make a comeback, the author developed the risk theatre model of tragedy. This working model is to contain original material, while still having roots from tradition. Traditional material might include material from the fifth century Athens, the English Renaissance, or the German Romantics.  The author believes that “risk” is central to the idea of tragedy.

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Risk Theater supports the idea that every drama act in a tragedy is a gambling act based upon risk. While restoring tragedy to an art in our modern times, current issues must be considered. Incorporating science and technology into tragedies greatly increases the opportunities for something to go horribly wrong. The author refers to this as low-probability, high-consequence risk. There is a thrill that comes from taking such risks. The audience loves a good thrill!

I found “The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy,” to be well written and very thought provoking. Edwin Wong has done an excellent job of educating readers on the historical aspects of not only tragedies, but drama in general. Readers will gain a great understanding of the structure, philosophy and poetics of tragedy. In explaining Wong’s risk theatre model, readers will learn how to tie the past aspects of drama into the present. This will enable to do a comparison of the past to the present. The author gives great examples of tragedies to support his information. Readers will then be able to incorporate this knowledge into how modern tragedies should be written using this model. A bibliography is also available in the back of the book. In addition to supporting the information presented, this list can also be used as a great resource if a reader chooses to go more in depth. The index will also make it easier to locate information in the book. 

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.