Edge, Featured, Theater

Playwrights become Astonishing Idiots

Department of Theatre Arts faculty member Oren Safdie advises Astonishing Idiots playwrights in workshop. Jackie Yang // Contributing Photographer

Department of Theatre Arts faculty member Oren Safdie advises Astonishing Idiots playwrights in workshop. Jackie Yang // Contributing Photographer

A handful of students is seated in a collection of rickety desks too small to support their laptops and thick scripts.

This is Astonishing Idiots, a new student-run theater company housed under the Department of Theatre Arts.

Astonishing Idiots is currently preparing for two shows this semester. The first will be on Wednesday. 

Faculty instructor Oren Safdie, a playwriting resident at the renowned La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in Manhattan, wants to give student playwrights a chance to realize their work in a practical setting.

“A lot of what we do in playwriting workshop is very theoretical; we just read over scripts,” Safdie said. “But theater is meant to be something that’s presented to the public, so that’s why we’ve chosen to go out and produce our work in an off-campus venue.”

The production will be constructed around selected scripts based on the theme “Upper Class Horror Stories.” The scripts come from University of Miami students.

If enough interest is generated, the company hopes to start monthly shows in the spring semester.

“You don’t know until you try,” said junior Adrian Alonso about the playwriting process.

The theater company’s work is packaged under an official course, THA 485, which mostly takes on the form of a playwriting workshop and independent study with other directors, actors and writers.

As performance night looms nearer, the company is focusing on finding student directors, casting actors and finalizing the pool of script submissions, which include both monologues and short scenes.

The students swap pieces, read characters and dissect each others’ writing. New ideas burgeon in the middle of the workshop; should they add comedic interludes? Slapstick scenarios?

All the while, Safdie challenges the playwrights to reflect on their stories, suggests improvements and recommends casting possibilities.

Though the playwrights enrolled in THA 485 contribute a good portion of the writing, acting and directing involved in the show, the theater company is open to script submissions from all students on campus, regardless of school or major.

Safdie is modeling this group after his experiences as founder of the student-run West End Gate Theater Bar in Manhattan and as a Woolrich Fellow at the Columbia University School of the Arts, an initiative that focused on bringing plays from “the page to the stage.”

“Playwriting is a place to experiment,” said Safdie. “Some things will work, and some things will fail, but the only way to really test that is onstage.”

The members of Astonishing Idiots meet both informally and in workshops with Safdie, who commutes to Miami from Los Angeles on a weekly basis. He offers guidance and experience, but the production process is very much in the hands of the students.

 

IF YOU GO
WHERE: Open Stage Club at 2325 Galiano St. Coral Gables, FL 33134

WHEN: 8 p.m. Wednesday

CONTACT: Submissions for the next show will soon be accepted at astonishingidiots@gmail.com.

November 2, 2014

Reporters

Jackie Yang

Jackie Yang can be reached via email at jyang@themiamihurricane.com.


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

UM’s recruiting class — comprised so far of 14 non-binding commitments — has dropped to 40th overall ...

University of Miami basketball player Dewan Hernandez, who has missed the first nine games of the se ...

Anthony Solomon will head north for his college football career. The St. Thomas Aquinas linebacker a ...

A day after naming Ephraim Banda and Jonathan Patke co-defensive coordinators, the Miami Hurricanes ...

It doesn’t matter if the number is actually 21 or it’s just what Jeremiah Payton estimates now. Twen ...

Feelings of depression and anxiety rise during the holidays, but there’s plenty you can do to keep u ...

The Foote Fellows Honors Program offers students added flexibility to pursue multiple academic inter ...

Commencement speakers share gems of insight and wisdom as more than 1,000 UM students graduate in tw ...

During a news conference Wednesday, a UM medical team talked about the clinical findings after exami ...

Your one-stop shop for University of Miami fall commencement information. ...

The No. 24/22 Miami women's basketball team turned in another stellar defensive performance Sun ...

Hurricanes Name Banda, Patke Co-Defensive Coordinators; Promote Simpson to Associate Head Coach ...

The Hurricanes hosted their annual Football Awards Show Saturday at Gusman Hall, honoring the 2018 S ...

World Series champion and UM baseball All-American Jon Jay will headline the 2019 First Pitch Banque ...

Fall graduation ceremonies held Thursday at Watsco Center. ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.