July 31st, 2016, marks the 36th birthday of Harry Potter. To coincide with the celebrations for her most famous literary character, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling also chose that date to release the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the stage play continuation of Harry's story that officially opened this week in London's West End. The play picks up exactly where Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 left off; with an adult Harry and his wife Ginny standing on Platform 9 3/4 ready to see their two sons, James and Albus, onto the Hogwarts Express.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child reunites Harry, Ron, Hermione and Draco, and also includes various appearances from other familiar characters. However, the Cursed Child script also introduces a newer generation, that is our trio's children, plus Draco's son, Scorpius, to canon. While Cursed Child undoubtedly gives the potential for more stories to be told within the Wizarding World, Rowling says that for her, Harry Potter's story is now done.
Speaking at the gala opening for the play, the author told the assembled press that although she is thrilled with how the play has turned out, she feels like this is the end:
"He goes on a very big journey during these two plays and then, yeah, I think we're done. This is the next generation, you know. So, I'm thrilled to see it realized so beautifully but, no, Harry is done now."
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a five hour play, split over two parts, and it has won overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics, many of whom have praised the use of illusion and stage magic within the show. Harry, Ron, and Hermione actors, Jamie Parker, Paul Thornley, and Norma Dumezweni, respectively, have also come in for some high praise for their work on stage, in particular their ability to bring to life adult versions of the characters we know so well.
Though the play is sold out right now, on August 4th a new batch of tickets will be released, extending the show's run until December 2017. It's widely expected, given the critics acclaim, that this tickets will sell out quickly, so Rowling could, if she wanted to, extend Harry's story even further. However, all good things must come to an end, and with Harry now well into adulthood, and his children growing up, it does seem like the right time to lay this character to rest. For Rowling, it seems as though writing about the next generation was something she wanted to do, and she feels as though the Cursed Child play was the perfect way to do it:
"It chimed perfectly with the material I had about the next generation and I could see it would work perfectly. So I never wanted to write another novel, but this will give the fans something special."
It certainly does feel special for fans, many of whom visited bookstores at midnight to get their hands on a copy of the script, which is expected to become the biggest selling book of 2016. It brings back fond memories of the years when the books and films were being released, so in some respects it's sad to think we might not get any more Harry Potter goodness. But rest assured, this will not be the end of the Wizarding World. Firstly, there's the possibility of Cursed Child transferring to Broadway, and even a film version could eventually made.
Then there's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Starring Eddie Redmayne, and set to be released this fall, Fantastic Beasts takes us back to 1920s New York for a whole new adventure with magizooligist, Newt Scamader, and there are at least three films planned within that franchise. Then there's Pottermore, where Rowling frequently drops essays written about subjects within the Wizarding World - and of course, one thing Rowling doesn't mention, is the possibility that Albus Potter, Rose Granger, and Scorpius Malfoy's stories could potentially continue in the future. Who knows? But for now, we can all be content to pour over the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child script, while we wait for the release of Fantastic Beasts.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is playing now at London's Palace Theatre.
Source: Radio Times