Playwright group Astonishing Idiots produces plays of all subjects, genres

No one would argue that William Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams were dumb. But if these famous writers had been Canes in 2015, they could have been Astonishing Idiots; members of UM’s student collective for aspiring playwrights.

Astonishing Idiots was formed last year by members of UM’s advanced playwriting class as an outlet both to showcase their work and to refine it through performance.

“We operate almost as a theater troupe,” said senior Natalie Hilvert, a member of the group. “Each week, we bring in scenes that we have written. We do readings and provide feedback to each other in order to improve our work.”

Twice a semester, Astonishing Idiots produces an evening of their best short works, spanning all genres and subjects. The first this year will be on Oct. 27 at Open Stage Club on Miracle Mile.

“While we usually feature comedic scripts, this show, we are trying to push boundaries a little bit more in order to challenge our audiences,” previewed Hilvert.

The showcase is still in the planning stages, but the Idiots are hard at work preparing for the performance.

“As of right now, we are simply critiquing each others’ scenes to get them performance-ready,” Hilvert said. “Once we get closer to the show, we will choose actors and directors to stage the pieces and eventually run the performance in its entirety.”

This month’s show will also feature the winning script from the campus-wide playwriting competition that Astonishing Idiots sponsored last year.

Part of the learning process for the playwrights is determining how to raise the profile of Astonishing Idiots and build a base of audience support.

“Last year, we had great turnouts at some shows and some shows were not as successful,” said Hilvert. “We’re trying to figure out what people want to see. We really want people to see our work and know about what we do.”