Tag Archives: conference

Didn’t Go To Waterloo (2017 Shakespearean Theatre Conference)

My proposal “How Much Is the Milk of Human Kindness Worth?”to speak at the Second Shakespearean Theatre Conference at the University of Waterloo got shot down. Too bad, it’s sort of a neat conference that runs alongside the famous Stratford Festival. The reason for the rejection turns out to be the flood of submissions the organizers received: 50% more than in 2015 (it’s a biannual conference). It turns out that a quarter of the submissions were rejected. Doing a quick run on the numbers, there were 85 papers this year. That compares to 60 or so papers delivered at the 2015 conference. A Shakespeare resurgence is on our hands, all aboard!

One of the organizers offered some constructive feedback, which I’m thankful for:

  1. keep trying. A lot of times it’s a hit and miss with how your title fits into the sessions.
  2. sketch a critical context. In other words, tie in what you’ve done with what has been done.

I already have a date marked down in my calendar to submit another proposal at the end of 2018 for the 2019 Shakespearean conference. Time flies, that’s just a year and a couple of months away! The feedback on the critical context is especially helpful. I should read up on modern theories of drama and see how I can tie “risk theatre” with what other folks are doing. Research time! That is actually great, because I’ve been spending so much time going through Carla DeSantis’ (the editor) comments and rewriting sections of Tragedy Is Risk Theatre: Gambling, Drama, and the Unexpected that I haven’t had much of a chance to read as much as I’d like to. The rewrite is substantively complete now, so a chunk of time has freed up.

Onwards and upwards!

Until next time, I’m Edwin Wong, and, since I didn’t meet my Waterloo, I will continue to do Melpomene’s work.

Conference Proposal

Seven Against Thebes Conference Proposal

Here’s another conference proposal. It’s on Aeschylus little known play Seven Against Thebes. It’d be a good idea to keep a record of the proposals and organizers’ reactions to get an idea of their selection criteria. I’ve been trying to do a couple of things in these proposals. First: tailor the presentation to the theme of the conference. That means custom tailoring each proposal. Second: be realistic how much a 20 minute talk can cover. 20 minutes goes by like nothing. It’s good to narrow down the topic to a laser focus. Third: present the proposal in such a way that I’m offering the audience something useful. I have to make it so that it’s worth their time to come see the presentation.

A word to other conferencers out there: if you can’t expense travel to your university, consider applying for a credit card with travel perks. I applied for a TD Bank Aeroplan Visa Infinite card. By the time you read this, there may be other deals out there. The Aeroplan Visa Infinite came with a one year fee waiver and a free short haul flight in North America. Amenities include trip cancellation and medical insurance. Not a bad deal!

Here is the proposal for your review, assiduous readers:

To the Organizers of the 2017 xxx:

My name is Edwin Wong and I’d like to present about tragedy in an age of risk. I approach tragedy from a Classics background in ancient theatre (MA, Brown University). The idea of risk theatre is an exciting new conceptual framework of tragedy. Here is my proposal for your consideration.

Risk Theatre: Tragedy in Today’s Age of Risk

Like Metatheatre and Epic Theatre, Risk Theatre is a theory of drama. It is a new theory of tragedy for today’s age, an age filled with extraordinary and calculated risks, an age of Fukushima, bioengineering, and leveraged assets. It is an age of both super drugs and superbugs. Risk is ubiquitous and risk theatre presents theatregoers with a new critical tool.

Risk theatre posits that each dramatic act in tragedy is also a gambling act. In each tragedy, the protagonist makes a wager. In Seven against Thebes, Eteocles wagers that, by interpreting the scout’s report, he can save the city and avoid the worst case scenario: encountering his brother and shedding kindred blood. With seven besiegers, seven defenders, and seven gates, the odds are with him.

But Eteocles ends up, against all odds, confronting his brother. Seven, in this way, is a lesson in risk management. The play speaks out to the dangers of calculated risks and is a reminder to today’s masters of the universe who, in the name of progress, gamble with the fate of the world. Just as in theatre, in life more things can happen than what we expect will happen. By looking at tragedy as a gambling act, risk theatre offers a new theoretical framework to approach tragedy.

Thank you for considering my proposal. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely yours,

Edwin Wong.

Until next time, I’m Edwin Wong and now I’m Doing Melpomene’s Work by going on the road.

Conferencing Time! Hear All About Risk Theatre!

Well, the manuscript is finished and awaiting the editor’s big red pen. That means it’s time to change gears. It’s conference time. Time to get out there and spread the word around: risk theatre is the new game in town!

Anyone who knows a good site/database with a calendar of upcoming academic conferences please forward a link. After searching around (mainly by Google search), I found a promising looking conference to submit a paper proposal. They’ll send out acceptance letters in late February, fingers crossed! Here’s how the proposal letter looks:

408-1602 Quadra Street

Victoria, BC V8W 2L4


January 16, 2017

To The Organizers:

My name is Edwin Wong and I would like to propose a 20-minute paper to talk about how Macbeth speaks to contemporary audiences. I approach Shakespeare from a Classics background in ancient theatre (MA, Brown University). Here is my proposal for your consideration:

How Much is the Milk of Human Kindness Worth?

Two changes in the Shakespeare quatercentenary offer new creative options in the staging of Macbeth. One: life has become more monetized. Today actuaries set a price on mortality and measure an individual’s place in the Chain of Being by net worth. Two: the downside impact of man-made risks has gone up. They feared the plague, the storm at sea, and other natural risks. We fear Fukushima, bioengineering, leveraged assets, and other calculated risks. Macbeth addresses both these changes.

Each dramatic act in Macbeth is an act of gambling. In the play, Macbeth lays down the milk of human kindness for the crown. By staking milk for the crown, he demonstrates how some things are to be bought by human assets, not cash. Life has value and buys things cash cannot. The play demonstrates how life is not to be valued by an actuarial table, but by the limits of its desires. The play speaks out against life’s monetization.

Macbeth is also a lesson in risk management. Macbeth’s plan is good. But instead of becoming a king, he dies a tyrant. The play speaks out to the dangers of calculated risks. The play is a reminder to the modern masters of the universe, who, in the name of progress, gamble with the fate of the world: more things can happen than what they expect will happen. Birnam Wood is always coming to high Dunsinane Hill. My paper considers how performances of Macbeth, by concentrating on gambling acts and risk, can speak to the preoccupations of contemporary audiences.

Thank you for considering my proposal. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely yours,

Edwin Wong.

Did my best to write an attention grabbing title and fit as much as I could (but not too much) into the 200-300 word proposal. How does it sound?

Until next time, I’m Edwin Wong and I’m doing Melpomene’s work.