Fans embark on a return to Hogwarts with ‘Cursed Child’

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two. (Handout)
“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two.” (Handout)

When it was announced that J.K. Rowling and her creative team John Tiffany and Jack Thorne would embark on a new medium for Harry Potter — a theater play — some were wary, some dismissive, and some overly excited about the news.  

The anticipation for the theater play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” was undeniably high weeks before its premiere in the West End in late July, but it seems as if the excitement was even higher for those outside of London, whose only hopes of the continued Harry Potter adventure was in the play’s published rehearsal script.  


“I was excited when I heard that the script of the play was being published because I knew I would not be able to go see it, and publishing the script would give me an opportunity to read it,” Sarah Fisher, a DePaul student,  said.  “I finished the book in one sitting, it’s a really fast read because it’s not really a book, it’s a script.”


Though as rehearsal script was finally published and released to the eager public, criticism followed.  Many feared that the story that takes place 19 years after “The Deathly Hallows” could ultimately tarnish the original novels that had left a magical impact on so many lives.  


“It’s really amazing to look at the different types of fans that Harry Potter has,” Heather Easley, one of the few DePaul professors who’ve taught courses on the Harry Potter series, said.  “You’ve got those that believe that J.K. Rowling has no right to continue her books, that the story ended with ‘The Deathly Hallows’ and she should leave it with that.  But then you’ve got those that just want more and more, who are looking for more stories and more adventures in this wizarding world.  


“And then there are fans that don’t believe Rowling should go back and criticize her own books, and even publically talk about what she’d do different now — for example she came out a couple years ago, stating instead of Hermione and Ron ending up together, Harry should’ve married Hermione.”


But while the continuation of the series may have made some fans cautious, for most it was a more than welcome return to characters that could never be ruined.


“I don’t view ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ as an eighth book to the series, so I was never worried that it would ruin the original seven,” said Fisher. “The original seven are iconic and classic — it would be almost impossible to ruin them.”


For many readers, the new play was just another insight to the magical world Rowling had created years ago.


“Since the official series in 1997, she has released several pieces of information about characters and events, such as the quidditch world cup reports or Dumbledore being gay,” DePaul student Allie Kahan said. “I was nervous because I wanted to love it and was worried if I didn’t.


“I don’t group ‘Cursed Child’ along with the first seven Harry Potter books. They are their own entity, and as far as I am concerned ‘Cursed Child’ is a nice separate edition about the same universe.”


And while the verdict of whether or not “Cursed Child” lives up to the hype remains fixed with each reader’s opinion. The stage script surely presented an unfamiliar medium for the Harry Potter series.  


“I didn’t feel as connected to the script because it was just that: a script,” Fisher said. “It wasn’t a book, so I do not feel as attached to it and was not able to get the same experience as I would if it was a book written solely by JK Rowling.”


Whether it was the detail of the scenery, or the thoughts of the main characters, certain aspects that had made the original novels so extensive and intriguing were absent for some readers of the script.  For others it was a new window into the wizarding world.


“It is a different read.  The rehearsal script takes you back to reading something like Shakespeare — the format is not for everyone,” Easley said.  “But it’s really fun, you have to use your imagination a lot more and picture and visualize what’s going on throughout the play.”


Although reading the new script format may take some time to adapt to, one aspect remains clear about “Cursed Child;” it captures an overwhelming sense of nostalgia — reminding readers why they fell in love with the characters and world in the first place.  


“My dad read Harry Potter to me when I was six years old. That is one of my favorite memories growing up,” said Allie Kahan.  “We did that until “Goblet of Fire,” when he realized that I would secretly read ahead each night after he said goodnight.”


Much like what the “Cursed Child” has become, the original seven novels, coupled by the eight film adaptations that followed, served more than simple entertainment to millions of fans.  It provided a sense of escape.


“Their world of magic and Hogwarts became a safe space for me when my own life felt out of control. It’s such an easy place to slip into imaginatively and get lost for a while,” Kahan said.
The adventure, the friendship, and the bravery of Harry, Ron, and Hermione became the home away from home inside of my head. It means everything to me.”


More to Discover