Why I Was Able to Enjoy “Cursed Child”
We’ve had ten days to digest the Cursed Child script, and many of the responses have not been too favorable. In a fandom where it seems the popular opinion is that the script has soiled everything we know and love about the wizarding world, I would like to take a moment to explain why I was able to actually enjoy reading my book well into the night on July 31.
An important reason as to why I was able to read the script without being angered by it is because I do not consider it canon. For me, something is only canon if it is written by the original author, doesn’t conflict with existing information, and was developed before or during the time that the rest of the story was being written. Cursed Child does not fall under these guidelines because J.K. Rowling did not write the script and the story was developed far after the last book in the series was published. We have no way of knowing how much of the story was actually spawned from J.K. Rowling’s mind and notes. The idea was brought to her, and she gave permission for the stage play to move forward. In a recent New York Times article, John Tiffany is quoted as saying, “It was clear she was going to let us take those characters and have our own ideas.” Does this mean John Tiffany and Jack Thorne were basically able to alter and play with the characters that might have had a much different fate if Jo had been solely in charge of their futures? It’s just too hazy for me to consider it an official part of Harry’s story. Some fans will argue that because Rowling tweeted that the play should be considered canon, it absolutely is. The following is my answer to that.
Being able to throw aside the idea that this is the “eighth story” and is the future of our beloved characters that we all must accept as real helped me to open up that book at midnight and be thoroughly entertained. There were no expectations, no offenses, because I knew I was reading a creative derivative work inspired by the novels I grew up with. Someone had taken the magic of those seven Harry Potter books and put it on stage, imagining what Hogwarts might have been like for the next generation. It’s like a fan fiction, but it was given permission so as not to violate any copyright laws. Is it really all that different from A Very Potter Musical? AVPM was a derivative work, using already existing characters and storylines to induce laughs from an audience, and Harry Potter fans ate it up.
Where Cursed Child went wrong was mostly in marketing. If it had never been advertised as an official continuation of the series, if J.K. Rowling’s name didn’t appear in bold on the cover, if the script had never been published in book form, I think it would have been much easier for people to consider it a separate entity, a bonus, if you will. Once it was published, people wanted to stack it next to their other seven books on their shelf.
While the rest of the world was angered by the book, I found myself laughing at the characters’ banter, imagining what the stage looked like, and feeling inspired by all the same messages of love and friendship that Rowling carried through her work. I was able to enjoy the play for what it was, a theater production concentrated more on visuals than a seamless plot. I was able to close the book and think, “That was a fun read,” without crying about how it had ruined my childhood and defiled the name of Harry Potter. At the end of the day, people are still being inspired by the original stories of the Boy Who Lived. Inspired enough to create their own versions of what his adult life might look like and put magic on stage for other fans to enjoy. Where’s the wrong in that?