New ‘Cursed Child’ Condensed Version: Will the New Play’s Script Be Published?

As discussed here earlier this month, there is a new Harry Potter and the Cursed Child appearing on stages worldwide. The original four act play is only now performed in London and Hamburg and the much condensed new play has significant changes, most notably, the relationship of Scorpius and Albus has shifted from friendship to young gay love. From The Guardian review of the shorter version:

Some characters are dropped entirely and go unnoticed; others are reduced to the point that you wonder why they are included at all. (Albus’s older brother James is forgettable now; their sister Lily is entirely gone.) One major character, who is secretly a villain and was included in much of the original show, is now barely on stage at all, making their big reveal feel a little wet.

And yet, among all the cuts, one scene has noticeably been added: in the second half, Albus takes Harry aside to inform his father that he will have to accept Scorpius as “the most important person in my life”, a declaration made with weighted urgency and one that his father benignly accepts. The original show was criticised for “queerbaiting” Albus and Scorpius, but director John Tiffany – who is gay – then said it “would not [have] been appropriate” to make the nature of their relationship any clearer.

Six years on, it is clear someone felt it was now appropriate. The sub is gone from the subtext; Scorpius’s female love interest in the original is now a platonic friend. Whether giving Harry a son who seems ever-so-slightly queer has anything to do with Rowling’s now public views on trans people, aired since the play debuted six years ago, is unknown and unlikely ever to be confirmed by anyone. Some wouldn’t even spot the change. What is inarguable is that someone thought the change was important.

Brady Dalton Richards, the queer actor playing Scorpius in the Broadway short-version, has said he feels it is his onerous responsibility to give this new representation of the story believability: “As a queer person, a gender non-conforming person, to be a visible voice, gives the gift of ‘anyone can be a part of this world’ — and that’s a responsibility, y’know, to be this open and visible force for inclusion and representation in presenting this newer version of the story.” I preferred “queer-baiting,” frankly, with its hetero-normative gestures at the end to what is obviously fan-servicing and capitulation to the Zeitgeist.

But I have only read the 2016 ‘Special Rehearsal Edition Script’ and never seen either version of the play (it hasn’t traveled to Oklahoma City, for one thing). Rather than make judgments about the play and the new version specifically, as I have done in admittedly careless fashion, a play which the Australian producer of the Melbourne Cursed Child claims that Rowling co-operated with Tiffany and Thorpe in revising and condensing during the UK Covid hysteria and lockdowns (see film clip above), when will serious readers of Rowling’s work, to include a play she didn’t write or re-write but had some part in crafting, have a chance to own a printed copy of the new play?

The play will almost certainly never have a traveling company or be performed by high school students for their Spring Drama credits. It’s much too expensive a production, one requiring remodeling of the theaters in which it is performed costing millions of dollars. That being said, the revised version of the play, having displaced the original in four of its six global venues, is the one most likely to be the accepted or most performed version. I hope Bloomsbury decides sooner or later that a second edition of Cursed Child with the updates and revisions is in order, maybe even before Christmas…


Cursed Child Bailing Out BroadwayCon? Distancing New Version from Rowling?

It looks like the cast and producers leading the Broadway production of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ is going to make an appearance at Mischief Management’s 8-10 July edition of BroadwayCon. This is news to note on several levels. BroadwayCon is the first Mischief Management gathering since the pandemic closed their popular LeakyCon and Con of Thrones as well. Is this last minute agreement for the most popular Broadway show in recent history to make a stage interview panel a la ComicCon with movie ensembles a life-saver to Melissa Anelli’s company? They are certainly more likely to sell out of Day Passes for the opening night of BroadwayCon now that the ‘Cursed Child’ cast will be there for a meet-and-greet.

The friends who sent me this news were more than a little surprised by the news, however. They know that LeakyCon has anathematized Rowling as a transphobe and bigot — so why would the Sonia Friedman Production decision makers reach out to help or just agree to participate in a venue whose Mischief Management owners libel Rowling left and right? They sent me this link to a Good Morning America interview on 19 May with the actors playing Scorpius and Albus in which Brady Dalton Richards explains why he is so excited about the new ‘Cursed Child’ one-part version that is opened in May (cf. 1:20 in this clip): [Read more…]

Paint and Memory, or Should That Be Pixels? Chatting with the Dead Via Magic and Technology.

One of the more fascinating, and mysterious, constructs in the Harry Potter series is the moving, talking painting, and what that means for the possibility of communicating with loved ones after death.

On the one hand, Cursed Child reminds us that the portraits are “paint and memory” …  something far different and far less than actually speaking with the portrait subject. This view seems consistent with one that Rowling herself opined in 2004. 

Q: All the paintings we have seen at Hogwarts are of dead people. They seem to be living through their portraits. How is this so? If there was a painting of Harry’s parents, would he be able to obtain advice from them?

JKR: That is a very good question. They are all of dead people; they are not as fully realised as ghosts, as you have probably noticed. The place where you see them really talk is in Dumbledore’s office, primarily; the idea is that the previous headmasters and headmistresses leave behind a faint imprint of themselves. They leave their aura, almost, in the office and they can give some counsel to the present occupant, but it is not like being a ghost. They repeat catchphrases, almost. The portrait of Sirius’ mother is not a very 3D personality; she is not very fully realised. She repeats catchphrases that she had when she was alive. If Harry had a portrait of his parents it would not help him a great deal. If he could meet them as ghosts, that would be a much more meaningful interaction, but as Nick explained at the end of Phoenix—I am straying into dangerous territory, but I think you probably know what he explained—there are some people who would not come back as ghosts because they are unafraid, or less afraid, of death.

source from Accio quote, Edinburgh Book Festival, 2004

On the other hand, there are certainly times when the portraits seem to do far more than repeat catchphrases. Dumbledore’s painting, for instance, was able to generate original ideas for Order members in the fight against Voldemort. For instance, he seems to have come up with the idea of the Seven Potters, which, according to Mad-Eye, was a response to the Ministry outlawing apparition from Privet Drive. He suggested to Snape that he implant the idea of the plan by confounding Mundungus Fletcher. Later, he advises Snape to give Harry the Sword of Gryffindor, reminding him that the sword must be recovered under conditions of bravery.  This seems to be more original thinking than a “faint imprint” could impart.

I was reminded of this curiosity after reading this story about a grief-stricken man who created an AI version of his deceased girlfriend, with whom he could converse by text chat. It is a fascinating read, and delves into both the potential for healing, and the dangers, of clinging to a created “imprint” as a way of coping with loss.  Reading the article made me think of Dumbledore’s advice to Harry regarding the Mirror of Erised:

“However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible…It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that. “

I hope our Hogpro readers will look into the AI story, and comment here on the similarities to magical paintings. 

Giving Tuesday: Sponsor a Hogwarts Professor for the Global Autism Project.

Dear Readers:

I recently had the privilege of being accepted as a Skill Corps Volunteer with the Global Autism Project for July 2020. I will be part of a team traveling to Ecuador, to work in a center for autistic children and provide training for teachers and parents.  My university’s Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement is providing a seed grant for the project, but I need to raise 80% of the funds to make this trip a reality.

I am hoping readers who have enjoyed my Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent and Cormoran Strike postings over the years will consider a donation to this cause on this Giving Tuesday. Skill Corps teams travel to places where schools and services for special needs children are scarce, with the long-term goal of establishing self-sufficient local centers.

No gift is too small.  The funding site is here for those who would like to donate.

Many thanks as we enter the holiday season.

A New Symbol for Harry Potter? Cover Ideogram on New Cursed Child Book

Arthur Levine next week will be publishing a fan-servicing book about the stage production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It was assembled by Jody Revenson, an author whose best-selling titles include the complete range of Wizarding World knock-off books released with each new Warner Brothers film or at Christmas time (see her Amazon page for all those “perfect gifts for the insatiable Harry Potter fan!”). The full title of Revenson’s latest is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: The Journey: Behind the Scenes of the Award-Winning Stage Production — yes, a title with two colons.

This would normally not merit a mention at HogwartsProfessor because I’m not a big fan of Cursed Child and the ancillary books about the Wizarding World I actually read are critical works about the J. K. Rowling novels or, with respect to the Fantastic Beasts franchise, those that might have clues about the shooting script we do not and most likely never will have. The video above was filmed when the new book’s publication was first announced in July 2019; what spurs me to write about it now?

I received my copy of TheRowlingLibrary online magazine yesterday and it included three pictures of the new book, all of which included a new — well, I cannot remember seeing it before — symbol or ideogram, as well as the much ballyhooed return to the lightning heavy faux Gothic font in the Harry Potter title. The super-stylized and symmetrically circular image all turns on the capital letter ‘H,’ the letter being bisected top to bottom in addition to its cross bar and encircled by the repeated phases of the moon.

Have a look at the three images in this post. The ideogram is on the spine of the book’s flyleaf cover where the symbol can be found at the very top. On the book without the wrapping cover, the symbol is everywhere. It is presented, too, as something like a Morris wallpaper design or an Escher drawing in the front endpaper, the pages just inside the front cover.

Forgive me if this not new, but, again, it is new to me. Does the ‘H’ stand for Hogwarts? That would seem odd; the school already has a crest or shield. Does it stand for ‘Harry Potter’? That would be even more peculiar because most initial set monograms include three letters and highlight the first letter of the surname rather than the first or middle names. It’s more likely, according to this convention, to be Rubeus Hagrid’s symbol.

Who cares? Anyone who studies the formal aspects of Rowling’s writing and it’s heavy measure of parallelism should be interested. This ideogram could be a symbol for ring composition, even better I think than the Deathly Hallows symbol. Long-time readers of this weblog will recall that the central chapter of the Hogwarts Saga’s central, “crucial” book is chapter 19 of Goblet of Fire, ‘The Hungarian Horntail,’ a chapter that Rowling highlight’s as the series pivot in various ways, not least of which is the alliterative title featuring the letter ‘H,’ a letter in which two vertical lines or parts are joined by a horizontal connecting bar.

Is this ‘H’ in the Cursed Child book a pointer to the two parts of the production? I hope that those of you who seen the play will chime in here if the letter-symbol is an important part of the show. Again, I ask your forgiveness in advance if this is common knowledge; Cursed Child is just not my thing.