“Cursed Child” Playwright Jack Thorne Gives Insight into His Process in New Interview
In the time since it was confirmed that the title of the upcoming stage play set in our favorite wizarding universe would be Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, we’ve heard a bit from director John Tiffany about his involvement with the play, and now a new interview from the Times gives us a peek into Cursed Child playwright Jack Thorne’s process!
Thorne, who actually wrote the script, which was developed with Tiffany and J.K. Rowling, is a veteran screenwriter and playwright whose television credits include BBC Three’s The Fades and whose latest play, The Solid Life of Sugar Water, will show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival next month. But despite his long list of achievements, there’s one thing people have been asking him about more than anything else: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
When asked if he was ready for his life to change, pretty much a guarantee for any artist involved in bringing a Harry Potter project to the world, Thorne responded that he hasn’t experienced much of that – yet.
Everyone said that [it’s going to make me famous]. Everyone said: ‘Wait for the announcement. It’s going to change everything.’ Then I sent out a tweet on the morning, just going: ‘I can’t talk about it, but I’m so proud to be part of it,’ sort of thing and phoned up Rach [his wife] about an hour and a half later because I was in town, and I couldn’t see my computer, and I was like: ‘How many retweets has it got?’ Sort of: ‘Am I now famous?’ And she went: ‘It’s got six.’ So OK, fame hasn’t visited me yet.
A bit later on, the article reveals how Thorne came to be involved with the project.
The Harry Potter play’s producer, Sonia Friedman, saw Let the Right One In, about a boy befriended by a vampire, which Thorne had adapted for the stage from the hit Swedish movie. She approached its director, John Tiffany, who recommended Thorne. He worked with JK Rowling on the story and wrote the script, now safely encrypted in his computer. All anyone will say is that it is not a prequel. Thorne was fully conversant with the Potter universe having read all the novels and sneaked into the films wearing his Ghostbusters T[-]shirt to show the families he was ‘here for the genre’.
And finally, although Thorne doesn’t divulge any plot elements of Cursed Child, he does reveal a bit about his process of working on the play and what collaborating with J.K. Rowling is really like:
I’ve now had to read every book again and work out what spells do what. The detail that she produced is absolutely sensational. Looking back at The Fades I kind of go: ‘I wish I’d sketched the world even larger, the way that she did with Harry Potter.’ I just didn’t want to challenge the audience too much with too much stuff, so I was: ‘Always keep it simple.’ And actually, Jo doesn’t, and that’s what makes her so special. That’s the great thing about doing adaptations: you just learn so much. My job is to crawl inside her head.
That may be the end of the Harry Potter information revealed in the interview, but there’s a lot more interesting material about other aspects of Thorne’s work.
Thorne also speaks about the upcoming The Solid Life of Sugar Water, an intimate play which tells the story of Alice and Phil, a couple coping with the recent stillbirth of a child. The play stars two disabled actors, Arthur Hughes and Genevieve Barr, and Thorne reveals that disability is a frequent theme in his work, in part because he is disabled himself. Thorne has a condition known as cholinergic urticaria – an extreme heat allergy. When asked why it was so vital that he represent disability in his work, Thorne responded,
In part…because disabled people are in ‘real trouble’ from government cuts, particularly the proposed capping of the access to work fund, which helps to pay for carers and interpreters in the workplace. ‘The way disabled people are being treated by this government is atrocious.’
If you have a subscription to the Times, the full interview is well worth checking out! We can’t wait to see how this innovative playwright tackled the Harry Potter universe.