7 Things to Consider When Reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

 

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The new play script being released tonight at midnight is sure to cause some stir, good or bad.

With this in mind, I have some words for the Harry Potter fan community to consider for the inevitable emotional upheavals that will (and have already) occur.

  1. This script wasn’t written directly by JK Rowling

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    If you look carefully at the cover, you’ll see that JK Rowling is credited with having created the “Original Story,” along with two others, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne. Jack Thorne is credited as having written the actual script. So while Rowling played a huge part, huger even than in the movies, the words themselves, unlike her work for the Fantastic Beasts film later this year, are not really her own.

    So, though I’m sure Thorne did the best he could to capture the feel of her words and her world, it might not feel quite the same for some readers.

  2. The idea for the project was NOT JK Rowling’s.

    Sonia Friedman, Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Sir Colin Callender

    Producers Sonia Friedman and Colin Calendar are credited with presenting Rowling with the idea for a straight play dealing with Harry as a father. Before this, I’m sure Rowling was content to leave the ending as it was. Though Rowling had gotten stage offers for Harry before – huge spectacles and musicals. This one she vetted because it was more intimate and character-based.

    So just to keep in mind – this is not a cash grab. Rowling would not have worked on this project if she didn’t think it fit the world, but it wasn’t her idea to do this.

  3. The work was written for the stage

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    You remember trying to read Shakespeare to yourself for a school assignment and maybe having a difficult time envisioning certain things?

    While plays should definitely be considered literature, and I’m glad this is being distributed widely in response to the fears of alienating worldwide Potter fans, we must keep in mind that unlike other Potter works, this is a work meant to be performed and said aloud. It may be difficult to envision how actors would inflect certain phrases.

    So you might want to find a quiet room and read aloud to yourself if having trouble (or ask your friends and make it a full-cast reading! Why not?).

  4. The published script is NOT the final version of the story.
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    As a “Special Rehearsal Edition,” the version of Cursed Child being distributed is not quite the version that will premiere live in London on the same date. Production constraints simply wouldn’t make it possible. But between the last dress rehearsal, previews, and the premiere, certain lines could have been changed, whole scenes cut.

    It is really awesome that Bloomsbury and Scholastic managed to pull off this publication so quickly, but I’m hoping we see a final version script published at some point, to get the most developed version.

  5. JK Rowling – and authors in general – are allowed to question their own work.
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    Cursed Child is, in essence, questioning  the ending and perhaps other elements of the earlier series. Fans have gotten angry and confused when Rowling would say something, completely conversational, that she maybe regretted or could have done differently.

    But, haven’t we all looked back on things we’ve done or made and wondered if we could have done them differently? Time changes perspective on many things. And sometimes, those perspectives do make their way into an official work.

    Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, last year, was actually written prior to To Kill a Mockingbird. Clearly, she rethought her original idea, and it resulted in one of the greatest classics of all time.

    Lois Lowry’s The Giver was originally meant to be a standalone, but she created three more stories within the world, one of which may take away the mystery of The Giver’s vague ending. Even Ray Bradbury, when creating a stage version of Fahrenheit 451, altered the original ending to reveal the survival of a character who was originally thought to have died, because he realized the possibility had been left open.

    Authors are allowed to re-explore the worlds they created, to go deeper, add details, some of which may shift readers perspective. They may go a different direction than you would have, but that’s why we’re all individuals. If done for reasons of creativity and not for money, there is nothing wrong with this exploration, even if we as consumers may not agree. So let’s let authors be authors and agree to disagree.

    Rowling and the others did not set out to ruin any childhood imaginings of yours, only to satisfy a natural curiosity, and ask: “what if?“

  6. It may be the eighth story, but it’s not the eighth book.

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    I don’t love how the marketers are really trying to spin this as a sort of “eighth book,” what with the midnight releases and all. But I get it – why wouldn’t you milk the opportunity for all it’s worth?

    Still, let’s keep in mind – Cursed Child will never really be part of the seven-book series that is Harry Potter. It won’t be sold alongside the others in a boxset, or have a matching cover. This is a sequel, an addition, a companion. it may be canon, but the Potter series still stands as a complete work. It’s the Legend of Korra to Avatar the Last Airbender – the works are certainly connected, but you don’t need one to love the other.  They are each their own thing.

  7. There’s more than one definition of “well.”

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    “All was well.” That is how JK Rowling chose to end the seventh book, and it is this point that she chooses to engage with, along with the other two writers, in this play.

    But, what does “well” mean?

    I can say my life is well. I have lovely family and friends who love me and care for me. I went to a good school, and I’m generally a happy person.

    But does that mean there aren’t things in my past that I struggle with? Or that relationships don’t hit snags? Does it mean I don’t worry about the future?

    Absolutely not. 

    Clearly, Cursed Child is going to deal with Harry’s life and his family’s. And it’s going to challenge the definition of “well” for many readers. But for this reader, “well” can mean a lot of things. “Well,” to me, is about finding balance and building and maintaining resilience. It’s about never giving in to despair. For survivors of a war, that is a challenge, but not an impossible one.

    It reminds me of a scene from Legend of Korra. In the second season, the grown children of Aang, the protagonist of the prequel series Avatar the Last Airbender, reunite in a… not-so-harmonious-way.

    After a whole two episodes of clashing personalities, dishing out the past, and accusations of favoritism, all of which cast the beloved (and deceased, within LOK) Aang in an unfavorable light. But in the end, the siblings can look at a childhood family photo and say, honestly, “That’s one happy family.”

    Family is hard. And for someone who never had a traditional family, I can imagine it’s a little harder for Harry, as it was for nomadic Aang after the events of Avatar the Last Airbender to raise the family that comes to squabble in Legend of Korra. But love was there. And whatever hurt feelings existed, doesn’t mean things weren’t, in general, “well.”

    Tolstoy once said, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” But to me that suggests that “happy” equals “perfect,“ which is simply not true. The Weasley family was certainly happy most of the time, but it wasn’t perfect. Stressed parents, children who sometimes felt overlooked, struggles with money, all played a part in the Weasleys’ lives. But Weasleys were happy. They loved each other, they persevered with or eventually sorted out what problems came up, and had enough love to extend to others, like Harry and Hermione. The Weasleys had problems, but they were “well,” at the end of the day.

    “Well” was never meant to mean “perfect.” But it does mean, I think, appreciating what you have. Harry Potter can, in the moment we left him on the platform at Kings Cross, feel that “All was well,” even if overworked, even if struggling in everyday life, even if there are more struggles with his children to come. Because he isn’t doing any of this alone anymore.

    And for Harry, considering where he began? That’s pretty amazing.

     

So, how are you guys feeling about the script? Going to a midnight release party? Discuss below!

 

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How I Met Ron Weasley – Analyzing Ron’s First Appearance in Sorcerer’s Stone

Today on Kate’s Curiosities, we’re going to talk about one of my favorite Harry Potter characters: Ickle Ronniekins… er, I mean, Ron Weasley.

(I said Ron! How did he know?)

(Sorry, kidding)

Specifically, we’re going to talk about his characterization in the first two chapters he shows up in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. And there will be merriment and lots of literary nostalgia goodness.

But first, a Public Service Announcement:


The Magic of Reading

If you click the picture above, you’ll see that I have created a list of 23 books and series, from Early Readers to Young Adult, that I think capture the magic of reading and the joys of being bookish for all ages, either through their plots or through their equally bookish characters. Hermione, of course, had to be included on that list, but you’ll find many other lovely books, classic and contemporary, that you’ll want to check out if you haven’t already. Then, share it on your blog, your Facebook, your Twitter, your Tumblr. Share it with your bookish friends, and your friends who have bookish kids, and so on.

A lot of care and thought went into putting this together, and I’d appreciate some support in this endeavor. Plus I think you, my audience, will appreciate the literary goodness. There are even quotes from each entry about books and reading, for added goodness 🙂 Here’s the link if the picture doesn’t work: https://read.rifflebooks.com/list/170475

Okay, I’m done with the self-promoting. Now onto Ron!

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A Letter to Snow White: Personal Reflection on a Childhood Favorite

Author’s note: So, this isn’t a typical post for me. But it’s been one of those weeks where I’ve been thinking a lot about something, and the thoughts get so jumbled up in my head that I need to write about it to resolve it. I hope you get something out of this personal reflection of mine, and promise next week I’ll get back to my more typical posts. Thanks!

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Dear Snow White,

I wish I could say you weren’t my favorite as a kid. That I was way more into Belle or Jasmine or Mulan.

But, let’s be honest – I had your doll, I had your dwarves, I dressed up as you for Halloween three times. You were my girl.

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Favorite Fictional Birthday Scenes

Confession: I celebrated my birthday yesterday, with parties held over the weekend. So, I didn’t write a traditional post this week. 

But I did want to post something. So, I decided to think back on fictional birthday scenes I have enjoyed (and wished I’d had ). 

Here are five fictional birthdays we all wished we’d had (Spoilers ahead for Once Upon a Time, The Lord of the Rings, Tangled, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone… kind of):

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What to Marathon When You’re Stuck Inside

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Snowed in (as much of the East Coast will be when this post goes up)? Sick with whatever’s going around school/the office? Just received one of those miraculous days where you have nothing to do and nowhere to be? Unless you have a great book to curl up with (or, y’know, homework), sounds like you need something to marathon!  Read more

What Harry Potter Has Taught Me About Family, Pt. 2

Welcome to the first Kate’s Curiosities post of 2015! Woo! 

I’m not sure if it was bad planning or good planning on my part to make the first post of the year a continuation of the last post of the old year. But either way, I hope you enjoy this further exploration into the dynamics of family in Harry Potter.

If you just found this post and have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the link to last week’s post. Basically, the idea was to ruminate on what Harry Potter can teach us about the complications of family, something I think we all reflect on at this time of year as we see family that we maybe don’t see much the rest of the year.

So, without further ado, let us continue where we left off last week (BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD):

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What Harry Potter Has Taught Me About Family, Pt. 1

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The holidays have come and gone, which means a lot of quality time with family we may not see all that often. For many families, it’s a lovely time of year. But we have to acknowledge that, for some, family time isn’t such a good thing. I sometimes feel that our culture generally doesn’t acknowledge the work involved in the care and keeping of family.

And I think a lot of the misconception comes from the works we absorb when we’re younger. A lot of stories aimed at children either give a pleasant picture of family, the only problem usually a lack of appreciation, or are about finding family rather than dealing with one you already have. Serious family issues come up later in YA and adult works, usually with a dose of crudeness and cynicism. But if we started talking about these things earlier, in a constructive way, maybe it could help kids to understand and defend against stressful family situations earlier.

Family entertainment in general has made strides in recent years with depicting different types of families, such as mixed family and single parent situations. But there are certain works that do an exceptional job at dealing with the complexities of family in a clear, concise, and constructive way. 

The Harry Potter series, I think, is definitely one of them.

Despite that Harry starts out the story an orphan, the series is actually very concerned with family for two reasons:

1. Love is the strongest force in Rowling’s Wizarding World, and love and family are closely connected.

2. Rowling develops her characters so thoroughly that she knows the family background of even the supporting characters. This family background often influences the characters’ decisions and values, either in support of or against the way they were brought up. The characters feel real because, just like us, they are effected by their families, but can still make decisions and grow to be better. 

Now, I’m not saying family can’t be made of people you aren’t related to or grew up with. I mean Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, and the Weasleys all became Harry’s family,  James became Sirius’s family when Sirius ran away from home, the Marauders became Remus’s family when they protected his secret and kept him company on the full moon. But, as stated above, the relationships a person has with the people they grew up with, who often are blood related, can effect much of their decisions and outlook, and thus, for better or for worse, we have to deal with and understand these people. 

I’ve loved this series from a young age, but the more I revisit it, either through Pottermore, fan articles, rereads (or, when using the audiobooks on car trips, relistening), or the films, the more I see how Rowling’s depiction of family is both wholesomely simple, and yet surprisingly mature and complex. So, I have to wonder what we can learn from the family relationships of the Wizarding World in navigating our own relationships?*

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The Art of the Fan Musical: Supernatural and Starkid

 

So, I watched Supernatural‘s 200th episode last week.

For the record, I don’t really watch the show. However, I figured I had enough of a working knowledge from tumblr to be able to appreciate the anniversary musical episode.

I always find musical episodes on otherwise nonmusical shows interesting, even if I don’t know the show that well, because, unlike on stage, there has to be a reason the characters are bursting into song. Whether it be a feverish hallucination, a Chicago-style daydream, or even a demon who kills by getting emotionally supressed people to sing and dance their feelings. These musical episodes also often provide anthems for long-standing themes and relationships in the show (see: “Guy Love” from the Scrubs episode “My Musical”).

But, Supernatural‘s musical episode, entitled “Fan Fiction,” is unique in that the characters from the show don’t actually sing about their feelings. Actually, the main supernatural-hunting brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester, balk at the idea of musical theater (though Sam apparently ran tech for Our Town and Oklahoma in high school). But because Supernatural has a book series in-universe that is based on the lives of the characters, with a fanbase not dissimilar to Supernatural‘s real life fans, they were able to create a meta musical commentary not just on the Supernatural universe, but on how its fans enjoy it.

In short, the musical episode was created in the style of a fan adaptation. And when I think of fan adaptations, I can’t help but compare to the marvellous works of Team Starkid.

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Forget Fudge – Actually Awesome Ministers of Magic

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On Halloween, J.K. Rowling released six new Pottermore articles, expanding different aspects of the Wizarding World. While most people fixated on Umbridge’s backstory (and I did too – I truly pity her Squib brother, she must have been such a bully to him), I found myself fascinated by (and later rambling to my mom about) the horrifying Azkaban backstory and the list of every Minister of Magic up until Kinglsey Shacklebolt. (If you don’t have a Pottermore account, see the Harry Potter Wiki articles here and here to get in the loop). As tomorrow is Election Day, I thought it might be fun to highlight my favorites.

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