Edwin Wong has created and written a book on a new playwriting form, which he calls the Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy. With the help of Langham Court Theatre, he hosted an international competition for the writing style this year. The winner will workshop their play here in October. Don Descoteau/Monday Magazine

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.”

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

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

Just Posted

Dance Victoria: The Trocks are in town!

Dance Days 2020 performance roster includes two powerhouse presentations

Pacific Opera Victoria exec member earns major honour

Yvette Guigueno to attend prestigious OPERA America leadership program this month in New York

Famed character actor Bill Nighy to be part of 2020 Victoria Film Festival

Nighy to chat with CTV’s Richard Crouse after Feb. 8 screening of the film Hope Gap

ALLAN REID: Like fresh food? Find it in Cook Street Village

Hawaiian-inspired Poke Fresh offers right raw food combination for Monday reviewer’s liking

Victoria’s David Ferguson earns second Chrystal Dance Prize

Dance Victoria awards Suddenly Dance Theatre co-artistic director $20,000 for new project

Fashion Fridays: Look your best this year

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Winners announced for inaugural Victoria Arts Council/Monday poetry contest

More than 100 entries received in five categories

Canadian polar bears’ ‘ingenious’ survival seen in BBC Earth series

Film crews also go to Tofino to watch black bears snap up crabs under massive boulders

Spring author’s reading series kicks off early in Sidney

Sidney and Peninsula Literary Society hosting Yasuko Thanh and Carla Funk for Feb. 7 event

The winners of London Drugs’ 2019 Amateur Photographer of the Year contest are…

After more than 26,000 entries, the winners have been selected across Western Canada.

‘How to Train Your Dragon’ filmmaker Dean DeBlois among Canadian Oscar nominees

Multiple Oscar-nominated Canadian talents on Academy Award hopefuls list

Grammy winner Lucinda Williams to play Vancouver Island MusicFest

Singer-songwriter has been on artistic director Doug Cox’s wish list for years

Sidney’s Star Cinema raises curtain on temporary location

Theatre will operate one screen in former Sidney Buy & Sell space for the next 30 months or so

Most Read