Anthony J. Piccione
THIS COLUMN IS DEDICATED TO ALL THE READERS OUT THERE WHO LOVE HARRY POTTER JUST AS MUCH AS THEY LOVE THEATRE. YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST.
While some people may refer to my age group as the “Millennial generation”, I prefer the term “Harry Potter generation”. As a kid that was born in the 1990s and grew up in the 2000s, I was – as were almost all of the friends that I had – completely OBSESSED with J.K. Rowling’s 7-part book series about “the boy who lived”, which has also been adapted into an 8-part film series. From when I was in elementary school up until I was 18, I stayed up until midnight to wait in line at book stores and in my seat in packed movie theaters for each new chapter of the series to be released. I remember reading the 7th Harry Potter book, in particular, from beginning to end less than 24 hours after its release. I could go on and on about how much I love Harry Potter, but I think you get the idea.
So naturally, like many other Harry Potter fans, when I found out that a new play – based on a story written by J.K. Rowling herself, adapted with the help of playwright Jack Thorne and directed by none other than Tony-winner John Tiffany – would be produced at West End in the summer of 2016, I desperately wanted to make sure that maybe, just MAYBE, I had the chance to go to London to see its world premiere. Naturally, this news leaves many Harry Potter fans across the world – especially people like myself, who also love theatre – wondering what exactly this new play will be about, hence why I wanted to write this column so that my fellow theatre lovers that also are Harry Potter fans can know everything that is known thus far about this project, in anticipation of its premiere next year, and also think about what exactly this new play will be about.
If there is anything about the plot of Cursed Child that is already certain, it is this: it will not be a prequel. This had been confirmed early on via Twitter by Ms. Rowling. However, this does not mean it will be a sequel either, as there is already confirmation that it will occur when Harry is in his younger years. When this upcoming play was recently announced, it was said that this would be based on a “previously untold story of Harry’s early years as an orphan and outcast”. This would suggest that the plot will take place in between the time at the beginning of the series when Harry is dropped off at the doorstep of his Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia and when Harry finds out that he is a wizard when he is 11 years old. This, in my opinion, would be the most logical explanation, based on what is already known about the play. This would mean that it is not necessarily a prequel, given that it would technically occur after the 1st chapter of Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone, if you live in the UK) but would still fit the description given by Rowling of when the play will take place.
It has also been said by Ms. Rowling that once people get a chance to see the play, they’ll see that theatre was “the only proper medium for the story”. This suggests to me that – compared to the epic scale of the original novels – this will be a relatively smaller Harry Potter story, likely driven heavily by the characters and dialogue. This also further suggests that it will be in an area such as Little Whinging – where Harry spent the first years of his life – and is first discovering that he is different and has magical abilities, prior to ever getting his letter to Hogwarts. Perhaps they’ll be a bit of fun moments with some bullies trying to mess with Harry getting cursed (accidentally, that is) in the process.
Indeed, there’s also the title of the play to consider, as well: “the cursed child”. If you are a diehard Harry Potter fan – and haven’t heard much about this upcoming play other than what the title is – then you might be quick to think that this refers to Harry himself due to a certain secret about Harry (I won’t reveal it here in this column, for the sake of not spoiling it for anyone still interested in reading the books or seeing the movies for the first time) that is revealed at the end of Deathly Hallows. However, I would think that it would be unusual to have a title that refers to Harry himself twice. In previous Harry Potter titles, it generally refers to Harry and another person (Prisoner of Azkaban, Half-Blood Prince) or Harry and a specific object (Sorcerer’s Stone, Goblet of Fire) rather than Harry and a certain other title used to describe himself. Chances are, this title refers to another person who will be in this play. Who this other “cursed child” will be ought to make an interesting plot element, if you ask me. Judging by what else is already known, I would guess that it likely will be Harry’s cousin Dudley or some other Muggle (for non-Potter fans, this is the word used for non-magical beings in the series) in the town of Little Whinging.
So overall, there may not be that much known yet about this new play that’s set to premiere next year, but I personally can already say this: As a theatre person who has loved Harry Potter his entire life, I plan to spend the next year or so waiting in anticipation for more details to be known about what the story of the play will be about, just as I did in the year leading up to the release of the final Harry Potter book in 2007. I remain excited that finally we will soon see an original and official (As entertaining as A Very Potter Musical may be, it is hardly an official Harry Potter show) theatrical production based on the story of Harry Potter. In the meantime, I will continue to think about what this play could be about – as I did in this column – and I’m sure many other Harry Potter fans will, as well. I hope to write more on this topic in the future as more details become known.
What do you think? Are you excited for this new play to come out? Any theories on what, in particular, it could be about? Let us know in the comments section. We always love to hear from our readers…