THE RISK THEATRE MODEL OF TRAGEDY

GAMBLING, DRAMA, AND THE UNEXPECTED

An ambitious, thought-provoking critique of tragedy in the 21st century.

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Wong argues for a new model for tragedy in this debut work of literary criticism.

The stage tragedy was once at the artistic center of the culture, though much has changed in the centuries since Marlowe and Shakespeare gave the world Doctor Faustus and Macbeth. Wong argues that those dramatists succeeded in part because they had a model to work from: Aristotle’s Poetics. Essentially a tragedian’s how-to guide, Poetics has long since been rendered obsolete. Even so, a model is a valuable thing to have, and Wong seeks to provide a new one in the interest of returning the art form of tragedy to its former cultural relevance: “My term risk theatre derives from the notion that risk is central to the idea of tragedy. Risk theatre posits that each dramatic act is also a gambling act. Thus, the tragic occurs when risk runs awry, and risk theatre entertains by dramatizing this risk.” In an age of risk, when society lacks stability and to be heroic is to be a gambler, tragedies must find a way to dramatize the existential wager that people make every day. Wong outlines the structures and underlying theories of risk theatre, exploring how this model uniquely replicates the crises of our time. He also offers a historical overview of tragedy and analysis of the ways the genre functions as a medium both of entertainment and education. The prose here is academic but not alienating, and the author’s passion for his subject comes across in nearly every statement: “I propose that risk theatre prefers dangerous and uncertain settings not because, as some suppose, tragedy is an unhappy art, but because tragedy is a risk art. Because desperate times call for desperate measures, volatile settings increase the appetite for risk-taking.” The average reader can be forgiven for not giving tragedies much thought—that is part of Wong’s point—but the author’s diagnosis and remedy for the current state of theater are imaginative and quite persuasive. Playwrights will take a particular interest, but artists of any medium should consider Wong’s notion of the centrality of risk to the contemporary human condition.

An ambitious, thought-provoking critique of tragedy in the 21st century.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5255-3755-4

Page Count: 378

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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