Playmaking, Broadcasting, Spellcasting, Oh My!

January Interim at Buena Vista University offers a window for students, faculty, staff to explore. The adventures include theatre, broadcasting and numerous travel opportunities.

Snow falls, the lake freezes, and students shuffle all over campus to class in coats and boots at Buena Vista University. Or, they saunter to a stadium in a t-shirt and shorts in Phoenix. Or even across the world, in Madagascar!

What’s happening? January Interim, also known as J-Term, is in full swing as Beavers build their future lives.

On a chilly January morning, Dr. Bethany Larson, Professor of Theatre, sits at the front of a circle of students. Her face is animated as she gestures with her hands to illustrate why theatre is her favorite, magical subject. From exploring the senses, to what colors communicate onstage, the myriad aspects of theatre are all-inclusive in Larson’s course. Titled “Topics in Theatre,” the class develops a performance in three weeks, one students will perform at the Region Five American College Theatre Festival in Sioux Falls on Jan. 22.

Through a process called “devising,” Larson leads her class to build a play from the ground up. Through experimentation with materials, props, and other items, students discover what intrigues them to determine what their play will communicate. A prompt is released from the festival annually to inspire performances; this year’s prompt states: “It is time to realign what our Fathers have misaligned.” Students brainstorm from this statement to determine what their play will convey.

“With an internship, it gives you time to see if the field you are going into is really what you want to do. It gives you a crash course on it. It gives you a chance to see what the world may be like for you.”

Omar Alcorta

“I like taking this class during J-Term because I can just think about this,” Rachel Hardy, a freshman Music Production major, says. “It’s a big thought process to go through, and I’m glad I don’t have other classes distracting me, and that we have so much time during the day to meet and talk about it.”

Larson says the course would be difficult to teach during a regular semester, even in class increments of 75 minutes. Brainstorming and thought processes involved in play plot creation need the full three-hour course. Larson’s class plans on meeting for additional time to ensure the play is ready to perform. Larson and her students emphasize they require an out-of-the-box mentality for their production.

“We’re used to movies showing us everything. You see clouds, you see rain you see all this stuff that looks really real. But in theatre, you can’t do that. You can’t do a real sunrise. But, you can use light in a certain way, you can use color,” Larson says.

Another January Interim opportunity takes place a quick five-minute drive across Storm Lake on a Friday night. Omar Alcorta, a junior Digital Media and Spanish double-major, is nestled in the KAYL Storm Lake radio station studio. High school basketball is heard over the speakers as Alcorta commands the boards, ensuring everything runs smoothly.

Alcorta is an intern over J-Term, with KAYL, positioned at the driver’s seat of what he envisions is his future. He has experience with KBVU, the campus radio station, which enhances his experience at KAYL. His position involves playing commercials, listening for directives from play-by-play broadcasters, and making sure all goes as planned. He emphasizes interning during January Interim can test your potential career choice.

“With an internship, it gives you time to see if the field you are going into is really what you want to do. It gives you a crash course on it,” Alcorta says. “It gives you a chance to see what the world may be like for you.”

Alcorta is grateful he has J-Term to improve his radio skills, keeping him in the loop while creating connections to better his networking skills. He’s found that this job is truly what he wants to do, and is in his element, while being paid for the internship opportunity with KAYL.

Now, take a plane across the world to Europe. You’ll find Dr. Andrea Frantz, Professor of Digital Media, and Dr. Wind Goodfriend, Professor of Experimental Psychology, and the “BVU Quidditch team” on a Harry Potter adventure. The brigade has traveled to England, Scotland, and more to learn of the Harry Potter universe through “Chasing the Snitch: Harry Potter Interim 2020.”

The trip took off on Jan. 3, and has included a Harry Potter walking tour, exploration of London, an excursion to Warner Brothers Studio in the UK, and more. At the studio, students witnessed behind-the-scenes moviemaking. In Oxford, students visited Christ Church college, where many scenes from Harry Potter movies were filmed.

The Harry Potter team has had a wonderful time recreating scenes in the original places of filming, specifically McGonagall teaching Ron Weasley to dance in Goblet of Fire. The magical trip has offered many aspects which are a reminder of the films; from men in kilts playing bagpipes, the bonding with Hedwig the owl’s cousins, and eating lunch where writers originally met to brainstorm for the books. There has even been a tour guide who represented Slytherin way too accurately, with student Becca Peters being sorted into a house.

“The trip has been amazing throughout. We’ve learned so much about J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter books and movies, but perhaps more importantly, Old England and Scotland,” Frantz says.

Throughout their adventures in England and Scotland, they continue to chase the golden snitch along with the magic of the spaces which inspired Harry Potter. This is just one of many excursions students of BVU are on during January Interim, with more potential across-the-world opportunities arising in the future, from Ireland, to Costa Rica, and everywhere in between.

“BVU has allowed me to travel to New York, California, Chile, and now England and Scotland. I just think it’s great we can have these kinds of experiences and travel with such great people,” Peters says.

J-Term holds a wide variety of possibilities for students of Buena Vista University. Whether that student is bundling up for a class to explore a world outside their major, venturing to an internship to see what a future world could hold, or jumping on a plane to explore magical lands overseas, there is a golden opportunity for everyone, for all Beavers to build.