Although they didn’t cast spells or brew potions, students of the Harry Potter Society found themselves in the wizarding world once again at the first showing of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” at 9 p.m. Nov. 17.
“It reminded me of how awesome Harry Potter is and how awesome the world is,” junior and HPS president Sara Hudnall said.
Society members continued part of a dress-up tradition that began during the original eight movie releases for many fans across the world. They wore the colors of their Hogwarts houses to show their love of the series.
With the release of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” a movie about the early events leading up to the Harry Potter series and the United States’ magical community in the 1920s, and “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” a play about the next generation of wizards after Harry Potter, members of HPS have seen themselves and more casual fans regain excitement for the series that has waned through the years.
“It’s a story that anyone can enjoy,” Hudnall said.
Attendance of Harry Potter Society events has grown recently, Hudnall said. She is unsure whether or not it has to do with the club’s change of leadership and style from previous years, but she believes the new materials are encouraging more people to stay.
“I think a lot of it has to be people are thinking about it a lot more,” Hudnall said.
Hudnall has yet to read the “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” script because of mixed reviews from other fans, but she loved “Fantastic Beasts,” she said.
After HPS came back from the movie, Hudnall facilitated an hour-and-a-half discussion about the movie and theories about what is to come in its sequels. Usually, the talks are cut off after an hour, but Hudnall said she decided not to stop members because of all the new information they now had about the wizarding world.
“We always want to know more about the world J.K. Rowling has created,” Hudnall said.
Junior Meghan Burmeister became involved with the Harry Potter Society because Hudnall is her roommate and made her come along last year, she said. Up until that point, she had only watched the movies, but she now has read all seven books and “Cursed Child.”
She said she prefers the original seven stories to the new play, but she appreciates how it helps the now-adult fans connect with Potter as a grown-up father.
“We’re not parents yet, but there are people older than us, and it’s cool to see Harry grow up with them,” Burmeister said.
Burmiester liked “Fantastic Beasts” much more. She said one of the most exciting parts about “Fantastic Beasts” for her was the main character, Newt Scamander.
While Harry and most of his friends were all in Gryffindor, the Hogwarts house of bravery, Scamander was in the often-overlooked Hufflepuff house, which values loyalty and fairness. Burmeister places herself into Hufflepuff and said she is glad to see her traits represented in the Harry Potter universe.
Burmeister said the growth in Harry Potter’s popularity makes it easier than ever to be a fan. She has seen many quiet fans finally come forward to admit their love for the series after the new movie and play.
“It’s less taboo to be really into Harry Potter,” Burmeister said. “It’s a lot more mainstream and cooler.”
Graduate student Kelsey Shanabarger found out about IU’s Harry Potter Society on accident. While searching for more information about the University’s Quidditch Club, she came across HPS on Facebook and has been involved since.
Like Burmeister, Shanabarger was also less than impressed with “Cursed Child.” For her, it deviated too much from the development that was created in the original seven stories.
“The dialogue didn’t feel like the characters, at least what I thought from the books,” she said.
Although she didn’t like the new play, she said the new materials help Harry Potter fans more than they hurt them. Old fans are able to relive their childhoods once again, and some are even able to bring their own children to discover the series like they did.
“It helps bring in a new generation,” Shanabarger said.