Department News 05-29-17

Argonautika, directed by Janine Sobeck Knighton, opens on Friday, June 2 and runs through June 17, in the Pardoe Theatre.  The play is adapted from The Voyage of Jason and the Argonauts by Tony Award-winning American theater and opera director/playwright Mary Zimmerman.

“For the play, we have to build a boat on stage, flood the stage with sea water, have Jason fight bulls who snort fire and then see skeleton soldiers rise from the ground,” said director Janine Sobeck Knighton. “The best part is, because it is theater, we get to find super creative ways to do all these things.”  The production includes actors from both UVU and BYU.  The Argonautika production team features Bradlee Hager as the scenic & properties designer, Marianne Ohran as the lighting designer, Hanna Cutler and Juliette Lewis as costume designers, Sarah Bult and Jacey Gardner as makeup & hair designers, Taylor Glad and Matthew Kupferer as sound designers, Haley Flanders and Katie Jarvis as dramaturgs, Caitlin Black as production stage manager, and Taylor Glad, Matthew Kupferer, and Emmaline Sanders as composers.

For those from 8 and older, try out the free “Lunch and Learns!” Register online at for a free “Lunch and Learn” workshop offered at 12:30-1:45 p.m. in the north lobby of the Pardoe Theatre prior to the June 8, 10, 16 and 17, performances of Argonautika. The activity will be an opportunity for all play-goers ages 8 and older to participate in learning activities inspired by the production. BYU student “teaching artists” will lead 60-minute workshops and then provide a space for participants to enjoy lunch before the performance begins. One free meal will be provided by BYU for each registered participant. Parents/guardians are not to leave children unattended during the workshop and are encouraged to register and participate along with their children.

For more information about the production, including the actors and the story, go to or



The third biennial Writers Conference, headed up by Tom and Courtney Russell, recently took place at BYU’s Timpanogos Lodge near Sundance, UT.  The attendance cap was increased this year and the available spaces immediately filled up with almost ninety students participating. Kudos to all those who contributed to making this amazing opportunity for participants to make connections, write, brainstorm and just get away.  Highlights of the week included the following:

  • Opening night, Wednesday, included a session on pitching prepared by Jeff Parkin and Jared Cardon, presented by Jared Cardon. Also, a discussion with Dean Duncan, Jeff Parkin, Wade Hollingshaus, and Tom Russell about Things that Matter Most.
  • Thursday morning: Wade Hollingshaus welcomed the group, and Stephanie Breinholt, along with a team of actors, performed readings of two scripts: the Mayhew Contest Winner, Thorn, Thank You For Coming by Matt Siemers and a spec episode of People of Earth by Max Dearden.
  • Thursday afternoon: A discussion of gaming and alternative media focusing on the AR game, Dark Ride: Disneyland, developed by Benjamin Thevenin and Jeff Parkin and created by TMA students. The presentation was conducted by Malori Bigler and Ian Hawkes; moderated by Sharon Swenson
  • Thursday evening: David Trottier, author of The Screenwriter’s Bible, discussed script problems and student pitches.  On Wednesday evening, students voted on 50 submitted loglines, narrowing it down to four finalists. On Thursday night, those four finalists pitched their ideas and received feedback from David Trottier and Tom Russell.
  • Friday morning:  Brad Barber and Scott Christopherson hosted a screening and discussion of two student docs, Risky Business, directed by Taylor Lewis, and Coal Minority, directed by Helen Butcher. Filmmakers from both projects joined us for Q&A following the screening.
  • Friday afternoon:  Screening of Masterminds, with guest Jared Hess(director) and Q&A moderated by Jeff Parkin and Tom Russell
  • Friday evening: Screening of Baskets and Q&A with guest, Jonathan Krisel, Writer/Director/Producer (Baskets, Portlandia, SNL, etc.), with Q&A moderated by Jared Hess.
  • Saturday morning: Professional screenwriters and TMA alums Jerusha Hess and Drew Duncan met with smaller groups in breakout sessions to discuss their own writing process and to field questions and offer feedback on material from student writers.
  • Saturday morning:  Sharon Swenson delivered a terrific presentation on Writing and Conversing About Film.
  • Saturday afternoon:  Screening of Electrick Children and Q&A with TMA alum Rebecca Thomas (Stranger Things, The Little Mermaid, Looking for Alaska), moderated by Dean Duncan.
  • Saturday evening:  Screening of The Good Place and Q&A, with Michael Schur (The Office, Parks and Rec, Brooklyn 99, SNL, etc.) moderated by Jared Hess and Darl Larsen.


 London Study Abroad News: 
From Katie Jarvis, LSA reporter:  This week is Travel week! All of the students and faculty on the study abroad made plans on their own to go see or do things they have always wanted to. A group went to Paris, a group went to Barcelona, a group went Scotland, a group went to Italy, Amy Jensen and her family went to Ireland, and a couple students stayed in London to go to more shows and take day trips to surrounding areas they were interested in. We had class on Monday morning and then everyone was free to go! Students returned Saturday night and went to their regular London wards for church the next day. This week was a total culture trip! Here are some of the places some of the group got to go.
Last Thursday afternoon, our business manager, Kelly Bready, and her family found out where their two youngest twin daughters, Shelby and Sydney, will be serving their missions.  Both girls currently attend BYU.  Both calls came on the same day, and the girls will leave within three weeks of each other in September.  Shelby will be serving in the Toronto Canada mission, Mandarin speaking (which was the language she wanted to learn) and Sydney will be serving in the Papeete Tahiti mission, learning both French and Tahitian.   Congratulations to the Bready family!
with mission calls

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