Tag Archives: In Bloom

RISK THEATRE Book Launch and Staged Reading of IN BLOOM Opening Remarks

Risk Theatre at Langham Court Theatre

Risk Theatre at Langham Court Theatre l-r: Cam Culham, Gabriel Jason Dean, Michael Armstrong, Steven Piazza, Jason Vikse, Arian Aminalroaya, Edwin Wong, Gene Sargent, Douglas Peerless, Rahat Saini, and Wayne Yercha

Transcript of my opening remarks at the Risk Theatre book launch and staged reading of In Bloom at Langham Court Theatre. Sunday, October 20, 2019. Thanks for reading, until next time I’m Edwin Wong and I’m doing Melpomene’s work.

We have for you tonight risk theatre, a bold new asset to create and interpret literature. With us … Brooklyn playwright Gabriel Jason Dean, the winner of the Risk Theatre Modern Tragedy Competition (https://risktheatre.com/)is in the house! His play IN BLOOM takes $8000 cash, a $1000 travel stipend, and a workshop. I see here competition manager Michael Armstrong and Michelle Buck, Langham Court Theatre’s general manager. They’re the heart and soul of the project. Langham Court board member Keith Digby is in France. He’s a force guiding the project. Our performers: Arian Aminalroaya, Cam Culham, Douglas Peerless, Steven Piazza, Rahat Saini, Gene Sargent, Jason Vikse, and Wayne Yercha. Michael Armstrong directing. Let’s have a round of applause for everyone!

We’re here tonight to see if risk theatre, a new theory of tragedy, can attain proof of concept. The spark of risk theatre came from a book on stock market crashes: The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. He argued that traders, by taking excessive risk, trigger catastrophic low-probability, high-consequence events. When I read it, I thought “Replace ‘trader’ with ‘hero’ and you can give critics and playwrights a model of tragedy that resonates with modern times.”

My new book The Risk Theatre Model of Tragedy: Gambling, Drama, and the Unexpected binds tragedy with modernity. Michelle Buck, Keith Digby, and Michael Armstrong saw the potential of making risk the dramatic fulcrum of the action, and we inaugurated an international playwriting competition based on risk theatre. We fed the spark and it became a flame.

Next came the jurors: playwrights and critics of renown: Yvette Nolan from Canada, Armen Pandola from the US, and Sally Stott from the UK. They read the scripts blind. Of the 182 plays from playwrights in 11 countries, they selected Gabriel Jason Dean’s In Bloom to champion the risk theatre concept. We fed the flame. It became a fire.

Tonight we want proof of concept. We’re staging a reading of In Bloom so that you can decide. Does risk theatre work? What happens when you make risk the dramatic centre of tragedy? Do protagonists trigger catastrophic low-probability, high-consequence events by making delirious wagers? Can the risk theatre model ignite a resurgence of interest in tragedy?

We’re starting to gain traction. Theatre departments are launching courses to explore risk theatre. Historians are adapting risk theatre to the writing of history and biography. Theatre suspends disbelief, and, as you watch In Bloom, I want you to suspend your ideas about catharsis, tragic error, the Apollinian and Dionysian, alienation effect, and ethical collisions. Think instead on how the hero’s concentrated position triggers low-probability, high-consequence events. Join us as we transform risk theater into a roaring blaze so that years from now we can say: “We were there with risk theatre in those early days when risk theatre was a green shoot on the fertile soil of theory!” Thank you for coming, enjoy the show!

Save this Date: Staged Reading of Gabriel Jason Dean’s IN BLOOM and Risk Theatre Book Launch

SAVE THIS DATE

SUNDAY OCTOBER 20, 2019 6pm

Join us at Langham Court Theatre for one night featuring two special events: the book launch of Edwin Wong’s award-winning debut work of literary criticism, THE RISK THEATRE MODEL OF TRAGEDY: GAMBLING, DRAMA, AND THE UNEXPECTED and a staged reading of playwright Gabriel Jason Dean’s play IN BLOOM. From the 182 entries from 11 countries, an international team of three jurors selected IN BLOOM as the winner of Langham Court Theatre’s inaugural RISK THEATRE MODERN TRAGEDY COMPETITION (risktheatre.com). Dean takes home the grand prize of $8000 cash, a three-day playwriting workshop at Langham Court Theatre, and a $1000 travel stipend.
The aim of the competition is to put Victoria and Langham Court Theatre on the playwriting map by redefining the art form of tragedy. Risk is now the dramatic fulcrum of the action. Tragic heroes make risk run riot with their delirious wagers. Because they wager human assets, tragedy functions as a valuing mechanism. Because they lose all, audiences wonder: how did the perfect bet go wrong?
The staged reading will be directed by Michael Armstrong, a well-known local director, playwright, educator, and actor. Wong will be in attendance, as well as playwright Dean, who will be flying from Brooklyn, New York to talk to you about his exciting new play IN BLOOM.
IN BLOOM tells the story of Aaron, an ambitious, well-intentioned, but ultimately reckless American documentary filmmaker in Afghanistan. While there, Aaron not only risks his own life in pursuit of exposing the truth surrounding dancing boys—a thinly disguised form of prostitution—but his actions also endanger the life of an Afghan boy named Hafiz, a tragedy that Aaron later lies about in his award-winning memoir about his experience in Afghanistan. The play examines what it means to risk all to do good, and looks at a character standing on the crossroads between altruism and imperialism. Is it justifiable to rewrite someone else’s history for the greater good?
Copies of Wong’s book THE RISK THEATRE MODEL OF TRAGEDY will be on sale at a special price of $10. Readers interested in risk management, writing, criticism, and theatre will want a copy. If you love literature—theatre, film, novels, history, biography, opera, whatever—you need to read this extraordinary work. You will never read another work of literature the same way. The book is a winner in the Readers Favorite Book Awards, the CIPA EVVY Awards, and the National Indie Excellence Awards. It has been featured in BC Bookworld, Broadway World UK, The Clyde Fitch Report (forthcoming), The Elements of Writing, Island Writer Magazine (forthcoming), London Review of Books (forthcoming), Monday Magazine, New York Review of Books, Ormsby Review (forthcoming), and The Tom Sumner Program. We are also thrilled to announce that a major MFA program has launched a course on risk theatre, the first of its kind in the world.
Come join us on Sunday, October 20. The book launch will be a casual meet and greet event and begins at 6pm. Complimentary appetizers will be provided by Food for Thought Catering and there will be a cash bar. The staged reading commences at 7pm with audience talkback to follow. Entry by donation, all proceeds will support Langham Court Theatre initiatives. We look forward to seeing you there.
BIOS
Michael Armstrong is an actor, director, playwright, and educator. He has a BA in English Literature and a MFA in Playwriting. He has directed, acted, and led workshops for twenty years. He has written a dozen plays, both comedy and tragedy, most of which have been inspired by actual historical events. He has a deep interest in the role of catharsis in personal growth and explores this theme in much of his writing: how personal tragedy can break us open, strip us clean, and make room for new life. It is a gamble that does not always pay out.
Gabriel Jason Dean is an American playwright whose plays include Terminus (Austin Critic’s Table Award), Heartland (David Mark Cohen New Play Award), Qualities of Starlight (Broadway Blacklist), The Transition of Doodle Pequeño (American Alliance for Theatre & Education Distinguished Play Award, and others. His work has been produced and developed Off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop, Manhattan Theatre Club, The Flea, The Civilians, and Cherry Lane Theatre. He received a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University and earned his MFA from the University of Texas Michener Centre for Writers.
Edwin Wong believes the time is now to reimagine the ancient art of tragedy. After reading Taleb’s Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan, he developed “risk theatre,” a theory of drama which aligns tragedy with the modern fascination surrounding chance and uncertainty. The result is a tragic stage where every dramatic act is a gambling act and risk runs riot. Wong received a MA in Classics from Brown University where he concentrated in ancient theatre. He lives in Victoria, Canada and blogs at melpomeneswork.com.