Risk is quite an expansive term as it could have a variety of definitions in different scenarios. For example, Merriam-Webster defines risk as an “possibility of loss or injury” or “someone or something that creates or suggests a hazard” while Katherine Profeta defines risk as “a departure from a comfort zone.” (201) Profeta’s definition of risk slightly differs from the general definition above due to the context that she examines risk in this chapter; Profeta examines risk from the perspective of intercultural collaborations in performances and the dramaturg’s attitude towards the different kinds of risk.
Firstly, Profeta conveys the different types of risk involved in these intercultural observations that she observed in Ralph’s work at the beginning of this chapter and then combines the risk factor with the dramaturg’s role. Profeta begins the section on risk by sharing that “the results can be risky in a number of registers – gambling with a chance of embarrassment, frustration, disruption of lives, disapproval from those in one’s own cultural community … physical risk when attempting to use the body in unfamiliar ways for which it has not had extensive training,”(201) here she explicitly conveys the risky situations that performers, directors ,dramaturgs and the entire team can face when attempting to portray intercultural aspects in their pieces. Profeta then introduces the idea that a dramaturg’s role embraces this idea of risk as she suggests that the dramaturg would “not be involved in such a project if he or she fundamentally believed it was better to play things safe.”(201) I understood this description of a dramaturg’s attitude to convey that both the dramaturg and the rest of the team anticipate some sort of risks in their projects and the dramaturg is expected to observe that risk and create an effective, productive and critical dialogue out of that presentation of risk in the performance. This understanding was accentuated when Profeta mentions that there is a belief that “most interesting dialogue and discoveries will be located on the far side of some sort of discomfort, and try purposefully to guide the ship in that direction,” (202) here she also hints at the evolving nature of a dramaturg’s role due to two reasons. The first one is that the risk itself is an evolving subject that changes from piece to piece and from one point in time to another and the second one is that the ability to analyze risk and steer the risk process down an efficient road is yet another developing aspect of a dramaturg’s role.
The term risk stood out to me because of its’ presence in almost every step of life; almost every decision, small or big, has some amount of risk involved in it whether its’ choosing the university to attend, the profession to pursue, the person to develop a friendship or relationship with or even travelling to a place! Risk also stood out to me because of its significance in my major, Economics. I spent my last semester taking many economics and math intensive classes and one of the concepts that we studied was game theory and the role of risk in these game situations and other industries. Risk is a concept that most rational consumers, from an economic perspective, seem to minimize or avoid and people are willing to invest their money to reduce the risk that surrounds them; this kind of behavior is known as ‘risk-averse’ and is the basis of the health insurance industry, for example. After studying this perspective of the concept, I was quite interested in a scenario like this where the dramaturg and the rest of the collaborators embrace the risk present in intercultural collaborations,rather than being ‘averse’ to it, to eventually gain some valuable insight and discussions around their work.Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary Accessed 8 Jan 2018. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/risk.
There are a few modifying elements to risk that you note in this excellent keyword essay – that risk comes in “registers.” What Profeta was careful to acknowledge is how a risk is not the same for each participant because each person is differently situated in a power structure. Ralph Lemon can take risks because he initiated the project and already stated his willingness and desire for risk to happen in the process. The West African dancers who traveled to the US to participate in the process and who were paid to heed Ralph Lemon’s choreographic process had less “choice” about participating in Ralph’s idea of risk — they were compelled to do so from a position of less power. And the dramaturg in that instance did “mitigate” bad risk – articulating the differential to Lemon so that there was more agency given to the other who was affected. I wonder if, in Economics, the risk you describe is mitigated because of an ethical concern for people? This is not rhetorical – how can the collaborative process that encourages risk (as the markets often do) look more like the process in the rehearsal room where risk is encouraged to produce something in excess of what happened before (as financial risk hopes to do too) but also assesses the risk, not for the loss of capital but instead for the loss of human enfranchisement?