View single post by edwinwong
 Posted: Sun Jul 7th, 2019 10:44 pm
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edwinwong

 

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Mana: 
Hi Edd, great question! I like your definition of tragedy as a play where the protagonist doesn't overcome the obstacle. There's beauty in simplicity. In the risk theatre model of tragedy, the protagonist usually doesn't overcome the obstacle. What sets this model apart, however, is that there's no tragic flaw or error (e.g. hamartia). The protagonist has a foolproof plan but does not succeed because of an extremely low-probability, high-consequence event. In finance and economics they call these sort of events 'black swan' events. That's why it's called the 'risk theatre' model: risk serves as the dramatic fulcrum of the action. Heroes wager too much. They take on too much risk. And, when you take on too much risk, you've overextended yourself and expose yourself to low-probability, high-consequence events. Think of Birnam Wood. How often does it come to Dunsinane Hill? Or Christine in O'Neill's "Mourning Becomes Electra." Christine's plan to poison Mannon was foolproof. But what were the odds that their daughter would walk into their bedroom at 3AM right at the moment he dies? And what were the odds that the moment Lavinia walks into the room, not only does Mannon die but Christine faints and the poison falls out of her hand? Or Oedipus. Who would have known that he was the matricide he himself was searching for? Heroes in risk theatre are like shiny red sports cars. And the unexpected is like that telephone pole that comes out of nowhere. There's a thrill in dramatizing risk act gone awry that playwrights could capitalize on. If you have a chance, let me know what you think!