19 Years on, a Magic That Lived: Harry Potter & the Cursed Child
Harry Potter returns once more, to the full hearts and eager minds of all the fans who’ve persevered thus far.
There’s a sudden quickness of breath, an all-too-familiar smile and a sort of spring in the step when I meet a fellow member of the Harry Potter fan club today. They’re much harder to recognise than they were about a decade ago. Hidden beneath years and layers of fledgling adulthood, you’d barely recognise the kid that pored over Harry Potter scrapbooks in his bunk bed. These 20-somethings are a far cry from the twinkly-eyed fourteen-year-old who queued up at midnight outside the local bookstore on certain Julys of her life; a far cry from the kid that triumphantly cried “Owl!” to the parent who asked him what creature he’d like for a pet.
Yet I mention this erstwhile lot of teenagers (now ‘grown-up’ men and women) because they have reason to hope again; for magic. JK Rowling’s ‘eighth’ instalment of the Harry Potter universe is on its way to her devoted fan base – and hits bookstores midnight of 31 July.
Here are some things you need to know about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and how it fits into the Potter universe:
Technically, It’s a Script Book...
If you’re what could politely be termed a Muggle in the Potter universe (read: a non-magic person) and are wondering at the slightly muted heights of Pottermania in 2016 (relative to ‘007), then you could probably attribute it to the fact that isn’t the eight book, per se.
Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, Parts I and II is a special rehearsal edition – or book edition – of a play. The play itself was written by JK Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne in collaboration for the London West-End stage and opens to audiences on Saturday, 30 July. The script book releases at midnight of 31 July – so strongly reminiscent of ALL the Harry Potter releases of our lives, when one could most conspicuously be found camping outside one’s local Barnes & Noble for a ‘first buy’.
Is It, Then, an Entirely Different Story?
It certainly is not. The play picks up exactly where the seventh book left off – 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts where a grown-up Harry and Ginny Weasley are seeing off their children to the school of witchcraft and wizardry. Pottermore (the global digital publisher of the Harry Potter world) revealed the synopsis of the play last year, mentioning how:
“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. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”
So, Why Haven’t We Heard Enough About the Story Already?
This one’s actually commendable – and pretty honourable. The play has been running special previews since early June, so you’d think somebody would have shot off an exultant I-saw-it-first-suckers kind of blog on cyberspace, long before you could lay your hands on the book. No such luck. Audience members at each of the previews at London’s Palace Theatre (where the play is being staged) were handed out special badges at the end of the show. These said simply: “Keep the Secrets”. In a heartwarming video message, Rowling appealed to her fans’ innate sense of the greater good (a very Harry Potter-esque message, if you come to think of it), saying –
“You’ve been amazing for years at keeping Harry Potter secrets so you didn’t spoil the books for readers who came after you. So I’m asking you one more time to keep the secrets and let audiences enjoy Cursed Child with all the surprises that we’ve got to the story.”
“Potter fans have always had each other’s backs,” she announced with a quiet sense of confident pride on Twitter – and did they ever.
You can now look forward to a brand new Harry Potter, nine years after the last, with the same thrill of the unknown, the same sense of solidarity that you’ve shared with innumerable other Harry Potter fans across the world that you will never know, but who will have helped keep the magical world alive for you – just a little longer.
(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)
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