Harry Potter & Theatre

Brittany Strelluf 

  • OnStage Missouri Columnist

I am a Ravenclaw. 

I went to more than one midnight premier of the newest Harry Potter film. I read the Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire to pass the time as I was serving as a Wardrobe Master for a production of the Grapes of Wrath, I've tasted butterbeer and dirt flavored jelly beans. I cried when Dobby the Elf died.  I am one of millions whose life and heart has been touched the magic of Harry Potter.

So I was pretty excited to receive my copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. But my excitement in this case doesn't come from being a head-over-heels fan girl. My excitement for this book, it comes from being a theatre fan. 

According to Entertainment Weekly, the play script sold 2 million copies in the US and Canada in 2 days. The Guardian reported a sale of 480,000 in the United Kingdom. While these sells are fantastic for a book, for a play-script it is phenomenal. 

Harry Potter is helping to make theatre a living, breathing, entity to a whole new generation. 

Having taught theatre in public schools I know there are two types of students who take theatre classes: the first are those who are genuinely interested and excited about theatre and want to learn more, the other are ones who thought that the Intro to Theatre sounded less terrible than the Intro to Speech class.  So to see so much excitement and so many people reading a play script for enjoyment is exciting. 

The text might not be o every readers personal taste, and that is okay. Theatre as an art form is subjective.  We may miss Rowling’s impeccable narrative and may not like a new character. However, that doesn’t mean this script isn’t special. I for one, am treating this script as a catalyst. Reading through it, I was inspired by it for use in the classroom.  It would be an excellent education tool for character study, design, and scene studies. It can spark imagination and reignite flames of excitement for the performing arts.

Will Harry Potter and the cursed child set the American theatrical world aflame? No, probably not. But if one fan, if one child sparks an interest in theatre, intrigues them enough to go see a play, take a theatre class, or go check out their school’s theatre department, I will be grateful to JK Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. 

Then again, I’ll always be grateful to JK Rowling.