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!

Cursed Child: Three Accio’s and a Whole Bunch of Reducto’s.

Theatre and fans
As Hogpro readers know, the book that was waited for with such fanfare was the “rehearsal script” of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Changes may have already been made to the current version playing in London, and more will undoubtedly come about before the next big premiere, presumably in a year or two, on Broadway.

If I was a producer, there are multiple points I’d take out and at least three I’d add.

OOTP-Screencap-Reducto-ginervra-ginny-weasley-1628131-1024-768Parts to Reducto:

Swearing by Dumbledore’s name. If there is one thing all parties should agree on, 20-odd years after the battle of Hogwarts, it was that Dumbledore, no matter how respected, was an imperfect and highly flawed man. There is no way Harry’s family, or anyone else in the wizarding world, would be evoking his name as if he were some sort of canonized saint. And if one of his portraits overheard it, he’d tell them to knock it off; it’s the last thing in the world our dear departed Headmaster would want. He has only been deceased for twenty years or so; tt would be like a Republicans today walking around saying “Oh, thank Reagan the rain has stopped.” Besides, in the book epilogue, Ron said to Rose, “Thank God you’ve got your mother’s brains.” Not, “Thank Dumbledore you have your mother’s brains.” In short, there is no precedence for any witch or wizard to do this, so the script should lose it immediately.

Sappy relationship conversations. Part of what was great about the original 7 books is that people our Trio did not spend a lot of time discussing their friendship. We knew how much Ron and Hermione meant to Harry when he rescues them from the Black Lake, or uses his memories of them to summon his Patronus. Too often, the play drifts into sappy conversations rather than simply showing how strong a relationship is. The dialogue between Scorpius and Albus, for instances, has led multiple readers to speculate that they are “more than friends,” even though both clearly have crushes on girls.

A particularly bad example is Act 4, Scene 4, when Harry has the long chat with Dumbledore’s portrait, and yells at him for leaving him at Privet Drive, and his various other failings. Then they (figuratively) kiss and make up and tell each other how much they loved each other. That seemed out of place, especially after McGonagall had already reminded him (and us!), the portrait isn’t Dumbledore, it’s a shadow of Dumbledore, paint and memory. Harry should have made his peace with Dumbledore, and what he did and didn’t do for him back at King’s Cross. Rehashing all that with a painting, 22 years later, when he should be focusing on making peace with his son was a pointless distraction. Besides, Harry would never address the painting as “Dumbledore”— we’ve never seen him call his Headmaster anything but “Professor” to his face. [Read more…]

Polyjuicing in the Cursed Child

Polyjuice_potionAnd I’m not just talking Delphi, Draco and Albus trying to break into Hermione’s office.

Rowling has said Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was for the fans, and when it comes to treasured glimpses of our favorite characters, it delivers in spades. But some of the most fun moments for me came from seeing old characters in new bodies.

Rose-Granger-WeasleyTake Rose. She’s clearly her mother all over again, even to the extent of being mistaken for young Hermione (and played by the same actress) at the first Triwizard task. The only addition is  that she is also a champion Quidditch player, like her aunt Ginny and most of the other non-Percy Weasleys. But, there is, ironically, a pretty big streak of Hermione’s nemesis Draco Malfoy running through her. On her first Hogwarts express trip, she’s the one who seems a bit puffed up with family pride with her  tumblr_lofpzpsG3u1qahisxo1_500“I’m a Granger-Weasley and you’re a Potter–everyone will want to be friends with us” as she makes elaborate plans to “rate them all and make a decision.” And after Scorpius introduces himself, she suggests to Albus they go sit somewhere else, and Albus elects to stay with Scorpius and share his candy, Rose reminds him she “won’t wait” for him to make her fabulous new friends. She may not use the same words, but the meaning is the same:

“You don’t want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there.”
“I think I can tell who the wrong sort are for myself, thanks.”

Young ASP is a bit more like his dad than he realizes. [Read more…]