None of us were expecting it. Just as Harry Potter fans around the world were digesting the fact that they were getting a movie prequel to their favorite series — “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (coming August 2016) — J.K. Rowling hit us with an even-bigger bombshell. She was releasing an EIGHTH chapter of the Potter saga, titled “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” but it wasn’t going to be a book. It was going to be a TWO-PART PLAY, debuting in London’s West End next summer.
WHAT?! The idea sounded both insane and brilliant, in equal measure. The plot summary was immediately captivating:
“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.”
Who wouldn’t want to see that? While the world collectively checks to see if they have enough SkyMiles to fly to London next June, here are the seven things about “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” that we’re most excited about.
1. It’s the OFFICIAL Eighth Story
When you go to the “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” website, the first thing you see is, “The Eighth Story. Nineteen years later.” And those six words are THRILLING for a Potter fan. That means this isn’t a prequel (no offense, “Fantastic Beasts”) or an alternate-world story or a “what if” tale. This is what J.K. Rowling is saying absolutely, positively comes next after The Deathly Hallows. How can that not make you want to know more?
2. Who Is the “Cursed Child”?
The title is probably the most intriguing in the series since the Half-Blood Prince. Who exactly is the cursed child? From the plot description, the easy guess seems to be Harry’s son Albus, but what if it’s not? Or, if it is, what’s the curse? Is it just a metaphoric curse — like the curse of having a famous dad — or is it something more literal? (The killing curse? An unforgivable curse? Sectumsempra? WHAT?!)
3. J.K. Isn’t the Only Author
J.K. Rowling considers this to be the eighth Harry Potter story, yet, for the first time ever, she’s not the sole author. The final script was written by Jack Thorne, from a story created by Thorne, Rowling, and John Tiffany. It will be very, very interesting to see how this collaboration pans out and if the final product still SOUNDS like a J.K. Rowling Harry Potter story. (The “sound factor” will be huge, particularly because plays are typically much more dialogue-driven than novels.)
4. It’s Not a Movie!
While, yes, we’re aching to learn more details about Harry’s post-Hogwarts life, we have to admit that the play format of “The Cursed Child” might be the coolest aspect of the whole project. This never happens. Books get turned into movies all the time, but a popular book series never, EVER continues its story via a London West End stage production. And it’s not just one play. It’s TWO plays. When does THAT happen? Have you ever heard of “Death of Salesman: Part II”? NO. It’s completely unprecedented. “The Cursed Child” feels more like a grand experiment than a sequel, which is undeniably exciting.
5. What Will the Actors Bring to the Table?
Thanks to the movies, when you close your eyes, it’s hard not to think of Daniel Radcliffe as your mental image of Harry Potter. But that won’t be the case when people see “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”. Sure, there will be the actor who “originates” the role on stage, but he’ll have understudies and other actors will eventually inherit the role. And it won’t just be Harry. All of the roles in “The Cursed Child” will be created by a mixture of J.K. Rowling’s words and whatever actor is playing those parts that one particular night that YOU happen to see it. That is a MUCH different experience than reading a book or watching a movie, and we can’t wait to see what if feels like.
6. What Is the Future of the Potter-verse?
While we suspect that “The Cursed Child” will focus heavily on the dynamics between Harry and Albus, you just know that the audience will be paying rapt attention, waiting for any or all references to the fates of their favorite characters. This is nineteen years later. What’s happening with Ron and Hermione? Will they be featured characters or just mentioned in passing? Is it set in Hogwarts? What’s up with the Death Eaters or Azkaban? Will we be asked to leave the theatre if we audibly “squee” if Zonko’s Joke Shop gets mentioned?
7. How Will the Rest of the World Get to Experience “The Cursed Child”?
This is our biggest question. If this two-part play in London is the next chapter of the Harry Potter saga, how will people not in London (i.e. us) experience “The Cursed Child”? Will we have to wait until it tours to the town nearest to us? Will the performances eventually be recorded and broadcast? Will the text of the plays be released as a book? Will MOST of the world read the play transcript before they ever get to see a live performance? Will we have to avoid story spoilers for YEARS online before we ever get to see the show in person? Does the fact that this is a play in one theatre in England mean that the majority of people in the world will learn about Harry’s eighth chapter via a Wikipedia summary? We’re thrilled that J.K. Rowling chose such an atypical and creative format for her newest Harry Potter story, but, selfishly, we’re a little concerned about how our personal experiences with “The Cursed Child” will be affected by the limitations of that format. We’re not saying it’s a bad thing. We just can’t even wrap our heads around how the world will be introduced to “The Cursed Child,” and we can’t wait to learn more in the coming months. It’s definitely an exciting time to be a Muggle.
Are you excited about “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”? What do YOU want from the play? The return of Voldemort? A ten-minute tap dance solo from Neville Longbottom? Tell us in the comments section below!