Reading, Writing, Rowling Episode 12: Serious Readers Talk About Cursed Child Performances in NYC, London

“Reading, Writing Rowling” Episode 11: “Experiencing The Cursed Child: London and New York”

A Great Conversation with Potter Pundits who have seen ‘Cursed Child’ on stage in London and New York City!

From the MuggleNet.com Page About the Podcast:

Whether or not you think it’s canon, seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child offers a unique Harry Potter experience. Readers of the script were often disappointed, but those who attend the play rave about it. Are you curious about how Harry Potter aficionados responded to seeing the play?

On this episode, John and Katy interview guests who have seen Harry Potter and the Cursed Child either in London or in New York. Dolores Gordon-Smith (author of the Jack Haldean mysteries) and her daughter Elspeth Gordon-Smith (film studies graduate and primary school teacher) saw the play with the original cast in London, while Tracy Bealer (Borough of Manhattan Community College) and Heidi Tandy (FictionAlley and Organization for Transformative Works) have recently seen the Broadway version. We talk about their impressions of the play as a literary event and a fan experience. We’ll hear about their favorite characters, scenes, and special effects and reasons Harry Potter fans will want to go see this play – but also critiques of the story and the interpretation of our beloved wizarding world characters. Come along for impressions and analyses that will whet your appetite for your own experience with the play or allow you to live vicariously through those who’ve had a chance to see the show.

Why should you care about a story Rowling didn’t write? Here are a few urls to catch you up on a play that is taking over the world —

I hope you enjoy learning about what serious readers think of ‘Cursed Child’ as much I enjoyed speaking with them (and having my misconceptions corrected!). Let me know what you think in the comment boxes below!

Voldemort, Delphini, and Oedipus: Complex Folks and Cursed Children

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 07:  A general view of The Palace Theatre as previews start today for "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" on June 7, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. The play has a sold out run until May 2017 with fans expected to fly to London from all over the world to see it.  (Photo by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images)

As we continue our thoughts on the recently released rehearsal script of The Cursed Child, one of the big questions early on was the identity of the titular child, but there is really more than one cursed child in the story. In fact, some of the most fascinating elements of the play tie in with one of the most unfortunate children (and adults) in all of literature, Sophocles’ Oedipus; Voldemort’s story already has powerful overtones from that of Oedipus, and this tale continues that trend, with subtle, and not-so-subtle, reminders that He-With-No-Nose and He-with-the-Swollen-Foot are both prophecy-haunted products of broken families whose harmful choices ripple outward to damage all those around them, right up to the blue-haired gal in the new play. (Fair warning, spoilers galore)

 

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Happy Hogwarts Express Day! Beware the mad Trolley Lady!

HogwartsExpressDear readers: Happy Hogwarts Express Day! Every year on September 1, the Hogwarts Express departs, in a cloud of steam and anticipation, from King’s Cross Platform 9¾, whisking a new set of eager witches and wizards off to another year of magical education and adventure. Best of luck, Hogwarts students! May all first-years get sorted into the houses their hearts desire!

Potter fans celebrate days like today, not because we’re crazy (well, a bit) or because we have trouble discerning fact from fiction. We celebrate days like September 1st because we are shaped by a series that claims reality – that which truly signifies – is not marked only by what we can observe with our senses, or what history tells us is fact, but also by those realities inside our heads. These are the realities C.S. Lewis said make up the “real theme” of the story: not what happens so much, but rather what it all means. Realities like love, friendship, imagination and compassion.

Remembering September 1st is a way of acknowledging that, at some point, everyone has to start on a journey. Maybe the journey is one of living up to a long family tradition, like Ron’s or Neville’s. Maybe it’s a journey of proving you belong through hard work and talent, like Hermione’s. Maybe it’s one of discovering who you are, where you came from, and where your real powers lie, like Harry’s. Regardless, on this day of departures, we at Hogwarts Professor wish you speed, luck, magic, and zero Dementors on your journey.

But do look out for the Trolley Lady. She is not just there to sell pumpkin pasties. She’s there to throw them at you like grenades if you try to get off this train before it reaches its destination.

Trolley Lady 5If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you haven’t yet read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: the rehearsal script for the hit West-End play that premiered this summer.

While reviews of the stage play have been enthusiastic, reviews of the production’s rehearsal script, inspired in part by Jo herself, but penned by Jack Thorne, have been… mixed. The script, published in late July, currently averages 3.9 stars on Good Reads, from almost 150,000 ratings. This seems generous, compared to reviews from those in the know. Mugglenet’s early reaction to the script asked if we could all “pretend this didn’t happen”. James Thomas, on this blog, firmly asserted the play is not the “eighth Potter story” it was touted to be. Potter expert Amy H. Sturgis, in her Good Reads review, says, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child reminds me in certain ways of the Star Wars Holiday Special (1978), in that one wonders how the creator lost control of the reins (or his/her mind) so thoroughly, given the ruthlessness with which this work undermines the seriousness of the themes and ideas of the text that inspired it.” Listen folks, anytime a work is being compared to the Star Wars Holiday Special, that’s not a good thing.

Cover 2And yet, reports have surfaced that Warner Brothers may be seeking the rights to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, in order to turn it into a trilogy of films starring Dan Radcliffe.

????

When confronted with this news, I had a strong reaction of wanting to get off this train. Now. Before it’s too late: before Potterverse gets swallowed up by the capitalist instinct to just keep the machine going if it’s generating a profit, whether the product is any good or not. And yet I can’t get off the train; I’m hemmed in by my own fond loyalty to ‘verse. It’s like being trapped by the Trolley Lady herself (Cursed Child version, that is). She’s this woman I thought I knew, who brought me comfort and nourishment, once upon a time. But now she’s coming after me, all of a sudden, with exploding baked goods and spikey hands. All because I want to get off.

Fortunately, according to Cursed Child, the Trolley Lady was bluffing. If you want off, all you have to do is jump.

Pepperdine’s Premiere Potter Pundit James Thomas Reviews Jack Thorne’s ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’

f21780006I met Pepperdine’s James Thomas in Toronto just a few days after the publication of Deathly Hallows. I think I may have asked him during this conversation over breakfast if he would consider contributing his thoughts here at HogwartsProfessor. I know the Potter Pundits adventure at LeakyCauldron began soon after as did James’ published guides to the literary depths of the Hogwarts Saga. If you haven’t read Repotting Harry Potter: A Professor’s Book-by-Book Guide for the Serious Re-Reader or his Rowling Revisited: Return Trips to Harry, Fantastic Beasts, Quidditch, & Beedle the Bardyou’re overdue for a treat.

I’ve never given up on his joining us here and on MuggleNet academ
ia. Years of teasing, cajoling, out right begging were rewarded yesterday when James sent me his review of the Rehearsal draft script of a story Jo Rowling is said to have something to do with, 
Cursed Child. Enjoy!

 

Review of Jack Thorne’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

by James Thomas

CursedChildWindowDisplay (1)I Don’t Know What It Is, But It’s Not the Eighth Harry Potter Book

A few weeks ago I was teaching in London only three miles from the theater where Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was to open.  Ten or twelve of my students went to see the play, and three of them experienced a Rowling sighting.  While I envied their having seen The Presence (as John Granger calls Her), I didn’t regret missing the performance and didn’t mind waiting a few more weeks to read the “Special Rehearsal Edition” of the play.  All my instincts and previous reading experience told me that whatever I was going to read by Jack Thorne wasn’t going to be an eighth Harry Potter book—no more than the wretched Go Set a Watchman is the second To Kill a Mockingbird.

In fact, having just sailed on another voyage back through the seven-and-only Potter books in my London class, I came away from the rough seas of Cursed Child a bit seasick.  This was an exercise in anticlimax, not unlike rereading Moby-Dick and then encountering Free Willy.  Books that have only one thing in common—whether Harry or whales—can differ in every other conceivable way—in tone, depth, style, and overall literary worth.  I’m certain that reading the play is a far cry from experiencing the wonders and pyrotechnics of the performance; but, having read more than my share of plays, I can also testify that a good play can radiate power and come to life on the page without the “bangs and smoke” of the stage. [Read more…]

MuggleNet Academia: Rights, Copyright, and Playwrights!

Copyright authority and Potter Pundit Heidi Tandy joins Keith Hawk and John to talk about ‘The Cursed Child’ and how Rowling’s various agreements with movie moguls, merchandisers, and thespian companies may have shaped her decisions to write (outsource?) the ‘Eighth Harry Potter novel’ and Fantastic Beasts screenplays.

Join us for a fun and heavily speculative discussion and guesswork about the financial backstory of Rowling’s Potter franchise!