JK Rowling
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Magic in the Air: Preparing for HARRY POTTER’s Eighth Story

As the world awaits the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, we analyse the role of this strange new play in the Potter fandom, and in our lives as Potter fans…

On the night of July 20th, 2007, I stood in line outside my city’s biggest bookstore with some family and friends, awaiting the opening of the store’s doors and- imminently- the release of the final Harry Potter book. How exciting it was: J.K. Rowling has concluded the previous adventure on a significant cliffhanger- Snape’s murder of Dumbledore and the trio (Harry, Ron and Hermione) declaring their intention to find Voldemort’s 7 Horcruxes and hence destroy the Wizarding World’s most dastardly foe. How would Harry’s adventures end? At 9 years and 10 months old, I had never before been so uncontrollably anticipatory of a cultural release. At midnight, the doors opened and I ventured inside to grab my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows– a First Edition- which I cherish to this day. It’s a wonderful book, possibly my favourite of the series, and David Yates’ two-part adaptation (released in 2010 and 2011) is a worthy filmic telling of the story. Since then, J.K. Rowling has given us The Tales of Beedle the Bard– for which I attended a midnight release in London in December 2008- and a handful of supplementary material through the Pottermore website. Tomorrow, July 31st (the birthday of both Rowling and her boy-wizard protagonist), sees the official West End opening of a new play and the worldwide release of said play’s script. Tomorrow, we will discover the next chapter of Harry Potter’s story.

But Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, performed in two-parts but being released as a single volume book, has not actually been written by Rowling. Jack Thorne is responsible for its story and its script, with Rowling giving her blessing (but, it would appear, no substantial creative input) to the play. I’m slightly excited (emphasis on slightly), having heard worrying emotional responses from those who have seen the play in previews. More than anything, I’m proud of myself for having avoided all spoilers for over a month from a major story that has been seen by thousands already in London. While I expect the quality of Cursed Child‘s storytelling to be massively inferior to that in the seven original books, the mere uncertainty of what direction Thorne has taken my beloved Potter characters in (and I get the impression there are odd choices in this story) is what will have me up bright and early Sunday morning to collect my pre-ordered copy. The fact that no bookstore in my city is following Barnes and Nobles’ lead in the US and hosting a midnight release is indicative of the moderated anticipation for this release. Children do not seem aware of its existence, many Potter die-hards seem adamant to ignore it entirely (given that it is, essentially, fan-fiction with bells on) and the people who in fact seem most interested in what Thorne and Rowling have collaborated to produce are the middle-aged, Guardian-reading theatre fans who Harry, Ron and Hermione have likely come to resemble in their middle-agedness. The biggest public “controversy” (but it really isn’t) of the play has been the casting of a black actress as Hermione Granger. Considering how awful Emma Watson’s performance as Hermione was across 8 films, I’m frankly delighted to see the casting of this character shift so much: a change in race is as good a way as any to distinguish Cursed Child Hermione from the annoying girl of the films.

This time next week, I expect I’ll be raging and ranting all over the internet about the sacrilege of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. But even the worst play in the world can’t spoil my love of Rowling’s original books. Even if, Atticus Finch-in-Go Set A Watchman style, Harry Potter is now a white supremacist…

This entry was posted in: JK Rowling


Lucien writes on film, television and politics at LuwdMedia.com and co-hosts the podcasts Above All Else and The 99%.

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