Cursed Child Comments From a Theater Junkie.

95875-300x211-Comedy_tragedyLive theater is absolutely my favorite form of entertainment. Most years, I get season tickets to the Mary Baldwin theater and I try to see at least a few shows a year at the American Shakespeare Center or ShenanArts. When my husband asked me how I wanted to celebrate my upcoming 50th birthday, I immediately said, “I want to go to New York City and see some Broadway shows.”  He just texted me that we have tickets for Wicked and Fiddler on the Roof.

I also love reading plays. It was always one of my favorite parts of English class, because we would often read the entire play aloud in class, with different students taking different parts. I remember Romeo and Juliet and The Glass Menagerie in 8th grade, and Julius Caesar and A Doll’s House in 9th:  the teacher particularly liked my interpretation of Krogstad.  As I got older, acting was one of my major extracurriculars.  I played such roles as Ruth in Blithe Spirit, Marilla in Anne of Green Gables and Mrs. Sowerberry in Oliver!

CCSo, am I looking forward to the publication of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? Merlin’s beard, yes!  If I were wealthy enough to hop on a plane to London and see the shows I would already have done so.  I can’t avoid spoilers until the play comes to Broadway (maybe as soon as next season?) so reading is the next best thing.  I don’t care so much about whether the story is the “8th book” or not. I don’t care if there are some changes from the cannon of the book, which there certainly will be.  I confess to being vaguely curious to see if young Scorpius Malfoy has a henchman, and if so, is his last name Goyle (book-cannon) or Crabbe (movie-cannon). What I am most looking forward to see seeing the wizarding world in a different medium.

Judi Dench as Lady MacbethNovels are different from plays. A well-written novel provides detailed descriptions of character and settings, and often an insight into the character’s own thoughts. In theater, the story must be told through visual stimuli and dialogue. Lady-Macbeth-sleepwalking-holding-candlesPlaywrights often leave physical descriptions deliberately vague, so that characters can be played by a variety of actors, and the directors have tremendous freedom to interpret the script. Hence Lady Macbeth’s have been shown ranging from very young to very old and with varying degrees of maturity, femininity and brutality. I go the the ACS’s version of A Christmas Carol almost every year, and I love seeing how the production changes every season.  Are the ghosts played as funny or angry? How will they show Marley’s face in the knocker?  Will Ignorance and Want be played by humans or puppets? I remember one year when the ring Scrooge’s ex, Belle, returned to him when she ended the relationship turned up in the trinkets the Charwoman was fencing after his death.  Neat stuff, even if it wasn’t in the Dickens original.

MaryMartininherroleasPeterPan1950s8Gender fluidity has a long tradition in theater, going back to the days when all actors were male, and therefore played iconic female characters like Juliet, Medea and Cleopatra. Mary Martin remains the definitive Peter Pan after 50 years. My own high school had Oliver, Dodger and all the “workhouse boys” played by girls. The ASC’s annual production of A Christmas Carol usually has Fred’s “plump sister” played by a man, and Tiny Tim by a woman.  It works.

1280_hamilton_castAs increasingly diverse audiences demand increasingly diverse casts, gender flexibility is increasingly extended to race in modern theater, which is why the choice to cast Hermione as Black doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I have seen community productions of The Sound of Music that included not only multi-racial von Trapp siblings, but Black Nazis. The late Nell Carpenter brought great energy to the role of Miss Hannigan on Broadway, even though having an African-American woman run a Depression-era multiracial orphanage is not historically accurate. And, of course, the hottest ticket on Broadway is a musical where most of the U.S. founding fathers are African-American.  Cursed Child will eventually be produced all over the world, with all sorts of interpretations of all the characters.  Not all will be successful, but that’s part of the fun with plays.

posterSo, my copy of the book-script is on order. I’ll pick it up at midnight after a long day of Pottering around Staunton Va, for the Queen City Potter Party. Sunday after church I plan to sit down with my kids and read it aloud, as we did the original seven books so many years ago.  Am I expectingly the same rich narrative story and meticulous attention to literary detail that JKR achieved in her 7-book saga?  Of course not. What I am hoping for is a tasty slice of the wizarding world, adapted to this very different medium and playing on its unique strengths.

And I’ll hope the play makes its way across the pond soon, because 90% of the magic of these types of shows comes from the production decisions.  The script is only words, though they should be words that prompt you to imagine what the stage would look like.


  1. Emily Strand says

    Louise, I admire your optimism! 😉 Great post.

  2. Thanks very beneficial. Will share website with
    my friends.

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