J.K. Rowling’s eighth instalment to the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is officially gracing the stage next summer in London. Concerns over the ability of theatre to re-create the magic of the books on stage seems to be the main challenge to overcome.
Words: Ludovica Parisi, Subeditors: Desta Theodros, Julia Tsilman
Our journey with Mr. Potter ended on Platform Nine and Three Quarters, as he waved goodbye to his children, on their way to Hogwarts. We closed the book with regret, leaving behind the companion who had followed us through the arduous path of childhood. The book was placed on the shelf and youth (for some), filled with thrills because of Harry’s adventures, came to an end.
However, to the surprise of many, on the 18th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling reassured her fans that there will soon be a new wizard to look forward to.
After seven novels, with over 450 million copies sold and translated into 78 languages, the writer birthed a new story for the West-End stage.
Written by J.K. Rowling in collaboration with Jack Thorne and directed by Olivier and Tony award-winner John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be the official eighth Potter story and the first one to be presented on stage, featuring a cast of over 30 actors.
It will not be a prequel, but will start where the Deathly Hallows ended, 19 years later.
Harry’s youngest son, Albus, will be forced to confront his father’s past ghosts and find his own place in the world. Part of the mysterious synopsis reads, “As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”
The play will be performed in two parts at the West End Palace Theatre, beginning in the summer of 2016. The public will have the possibility to come and see it on the same day (matinee and evening), or on two consecutive evenings.
This is a huge responsibility for the writer to take on since the Harry Potter saga revolves around supernatural forces. Fans are concerned about the effectiveness of technology to deliver magic through such a ‘limited’ medium like theatre since special effects conveyed in movies will never be as realistic as the ones we’ll be seeing on stage.
However, producers Colin Callender and Sonia Friedman expressed in a recent interview that, “Because it’s a play, it’s worth stressing that at this stage of the process it’s not our intention to have a high-tech show, but to go back to basic story telling.” The idea is to focus on the purest form of the novel by stimulating the audience’s imagination and developing the characters’ feelings and personalities.
Besides the lack of special effects that seems to hold back the excitement of fans, still reluctant over the play’s idea, purchasing tickets is a further problem.
Tickets for the first booking period (from 7 June to 18 September 2016) were released on October 28, followed by a second release (from 21 September 2016 to 8 January 2017) the same afternoon.
Demand was overwhelming, and they were sold out after a few hours. Online tickets marketplaces such as Stubhub, Seatwave, and Viagogo immediately started reselling tickets for more than ten times their original value. The play’s official Twitter account suggested people to not attempt to resell tickets on alternative platforms since patrons will not be admitted into the theatre but will have to wait until the next ticket release date, October 30th.
Thousands of customers were left disappointed due to the site’s technical problems, which prevented them from purchasing tickets. Some unlucky fans who believed they had completed their purchase were locked out of the website. Many fans vented their anger on social media by cursing the virtual never-ending queue.
However, the official production website has announced that it will soon launch two ticket lotteries. From the opening day of the play, the weekly online lottery will release 20 tickets for each performance every Friday at 1pm, while the daily tickets lottery will release the same amount at the Palace Theatre box office. Prices vary from £30 during previews and £40 after the show opens.
Nevertheless, for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to win, we’ll still get the chance to purchase tickets on 27 May 2017, when more will be released.
There is no spell cast and no curse; everyone deserves the opportunity to be graced with a live experience of pure magic.