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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One & Two' The Official Script Book of the Original West End Production By J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

From the BLURB:

The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later. Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, a new play by Jack Thorne.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London's West End on 30th July 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn't much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

☾ ☽☾ ☽☾ ☽☾ ☽☾ ☽☾ ☽
Five thoughts on ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ 
don’t worry, I’ll #KeepTheSecrets

1.     Who says FanFiction can’t be legit?

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a two-part West End stage play written by Jack Thorne, and based on an original new story by Thorne, J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany (director). So Rowling didn’t write this, Thorne did – based on an original idea of hers, and obviously on her original characters. Um … in my book, that’s an authorised bit of FanFic. Am I wrong?!

I’ve long thought that FanFiction gets looked down upon and stigmatized as dirty plagiarization and breaching of copyright; but actually FanFic (or some assimilation of it) exists throughout different forms of media, and has done for years.

There’s a very reasonable argument to say that Disney has been producing FanFic of the Brothers Grimm all these years (and in turn, the Grimm boys just wote FanFic of the original tales they heard). I’d argue that the movie 10 Things I Hate About You is a form of Shakespearean FanFic. Can you even suggest that every new Doctor Who show-runner has just been adding to Sydney Newman's original, very loose concept? What about the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Dark Horse Comics series, all based on an original idea by Joss Whedon and penned by different writers? Or even just all of popular television; that’s developed by a show-runner, and then episodes are essentially written by a ‘writer’s room’ of staff who are authorised to develop scripts in that universe. FanFic exists in a lot more incarnations than just fan labor … and there’s now no better defence of the art-form than Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

There are already articles pointing out that a key plot development and character in Cursed Child was predicted and written by FanFiction years ago (I’m going to go ahead and guess that this bombshell was actually dropped across numerous HP FanFic stories – because it’s a pretty beloved jaw-dropping “trope”).

I do think that Thorne has done a terrific job in respecting and revisiting Rowling’s world, but there were times when I really had to stand back and think how much of this felt like an ode to fans – much in the same way FanFic does – in giving them almost a ‘best of clips’ montage to appease all their fandom delights.

2.     Slash-Fic will live on

This gives me great joy – in saying that I do believe the infamous slash-fic of Draco and Harry will live on for a new generation of readers …

3.     Fathers and Sons 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is very much a book about fathers and sons, when the inciting incidents all stem from Harry’s middle-child – Albus Severus Potter – and his conflicting relationship with his famous father (now a middle-aged Boy Who Lived). The other real pivoting relationship in the novel, which is also playing to the Fathers/Sons theme, is Draco Malfoy and his son Scorpius. Where Harry and Albus are actually both a bit annoying at times in Cursed Child, it’ll be surprising (to some) that Draco and Scorpius are both infinitely more tender and fascinating counterpoints to the Potters. Draco is – arguably – the original character who has the most impressive and intriguing development across the whole series. He is utterly compelling in his middle-age, with a lot of tragedy and conspiracy surrounding him and his family.

 Scorpius as a character is probably the most original construct belonging to Thorne – and he absolutely shines. He is, for me, a new favourite in the Harry Potter universe, and if Rowling really is as done with these characters as she’s claiming to be – I think the biggest disappointment may come in not getting to see Scorpius in more instalments.

4.     The Play’s the thing …

This book is not a novelization written by Rowling, but rather it’s the ‘Official Script Book of the Original West End Production’ written by Thorne, with stage-direction from Tiffany. So it is laid out like a play – with stage direction, dialogue, sound cues etc … and I think that’s fantastic. It does take a second to get into the beats, and find a rhythm – particularly when we’re so used to reading the novelization of this world and these characters – but you pretty quickly click into magic and everything becomes copacetic.  

I think it’s great that this is being set out like a play, if only to get kids into those rhythms and welcome them into this artful universe. There have been some truly spectacular stage productions for children lately – from Matilda the Musical, to the stage adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. It won’t go unnoticed that lots of these plays and musicals are originating on the West End of London – the UK just seem to be beautifully hitting this sweet spot for children’s production, and I really hope that Australia follows!

Of course, it’s impossible to not read Cursed Child and try to rack your brain imagining how they’ll recreate the infinitely magical world of Harry Potter for the stage (Hogwarts express?! HOW?!) … There must be some truly phenomenal special effects, choreography, design, props, costuming … and yes, this all leads into wishing – DESPERATELY – that one could jet over to the West End and see this thing come to life. This book creates a definite hunger to see the words come to life – an even more intense wanting than seeing the books adapted into films, I’d say. Like everyone else, I shall be eagerly hoping for the Cursed Child to take to the international stage and come to Melbourne/Sydney … or for there to be a movie or live broadcast of the play (of which, there are currently no plans).
Barring that – I’ll wait for the establishment of a Floo Network to transport me to London for a day, and also a conjuring spell for some tickets …

5.     Harry Potter And the Case for an H. G. Wells-level Brigadoon

I really enjoyed Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, more than I thought I would since I had tempered my expectations – lest I be heartbroken. But I was completely enthralled by this story … even as one or two things irked me (nobody knows what to do with Ron. He’s a hollow, sad, clown-man and can we just be done with him?)

But what I have really, really loved was the Harry Hype again. This book coming out was an event – just like its predecessors – and it was great to go down to my local bookstore (shout-out to Robinsons!) and see everyone dressed up, to see kids plopping their butts on the bookstore floor to start reading immediately! It was great to switch on the nightly news and see reports of the QUEUES and MASSES of people at bookstores, coming out in all their wild wizardry wares to celebrate a new dimension and story in this beloved universe.

… Which has led me to decide that we – all of us, on a global-scale – should agree in, say?, fifty years time to hide all our Harry Potter books and associated paraphernalia. It’ll be hard, I grant you – what to do with the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal? … is there a tarp big enough to cover?

But – OH! – it’d be worth it!

If we can pull this off, just imagine how great it would be to re-create and re-release all the Harry Potter books as if it’s the first time all over again? Let’s do this, like we’re H. G. Wells fooling everyone into believing there’s an alien invasion! Let’s turn the Harry Potter books into a pop-culture Brigadoon and disappear these stories, only to make them reappear like magic for a new generation of kids who wouldn’t otherwise know the sheer joy of taking part in a world-wide phenomenon based around love for these books, this story, and that wizard?!

Let’s do this people!
I believe in magic.
I still believe in magic.

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