I have already expressed how underwhelmed I am with the new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie, but I am feeling exactly the opposite when it comes to the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It’s the sequel to the Harry Potter books that I’ve always wanted, especially now that the cast has been announced.
I have been decidedly less interested in all things Harry Potter lately. I barely go on Pottermore, Harry Potter fanfiction hasn’t interested me in ages, and the newest movie seems entertaining, but riddled with problems I had hoped a 2016 movie wouldn’t have. However, the play The Cursed Child seems like everything I ever wanted from a future Harry Potter story. First off, the synopsis of the play looks pretty amazing. It will focus on an older Harry who struggles with his past, while trying to work for the Ministry of Magic and being a father of three and a husband all at the same time. While the Harry Potter books do show Harry struggling with PTSD, we should certainly be seeing more of that in the play. It should show us how deeply Harry was affected by Voldemort and how the villain’s death didn’t put Harry’s demons to rest.
The story also focuses on Albus Severus, Harry’s youngest son and a favorite in the Harry Potter fandom. According to the synopsis, Albus will be struggling just as much as Harry, both with his famous family legacy as well as some other darkness that seems to be the main plot of the story.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
My biggest hope for Albus is that he is not in Gryffindor. At the end of book seven of the Harry Potter series, Albus is starting his first year at Hogwarts, and his brother James torments him by saying he’ll be in Slytherin. Harry assures his nervous son that no matter which house he is in, he’ll do well and be great. This scene seems to have encouraged most people in the fandom to sort Albus into Slytherin, or at least into any house that isn’t Gryffindor. My particular favorites are Hufflepuff and Slytherin versions of Albus. Especially if Albus wants nothing to do with his father’s legacy, it would make sense for Albus to be in a house other than Gryffindor in order to be set apart from his family. Furthermore, since all of the Harry Potter books focus mainly on Gryffindors as the heroes, it would be nice if the other houses got some play.
But finally, and most importantly, what I am most excited about is the recent casting announcement which revealed that Hermione would be played by Noma Dumezweni, a Black actress. Of course, the inevitable backlash was predictable, incredibly stupid, and exceedingly racist, as people continue to insist that a Black Hermione made no sense, but somehow they can suspend their disbelief to read about a secret world where people cast spells out of wooden sticks.
Thankfully the support of Noma Dumezweni has been just as strong. Fans, the cast of the Harry Potter films, and J.K. Rowling herself have spoken up about it as Black Hermione moves from a “racebent” character to a canonical person of color.
This is thrilling news to all of us who have been longing for more diversity in the world of Harry Potter, especially because the themes of the books are all about prejudice and discrimination. Seeing a more diverse cast is just amazingly satisfying. And while the author’s opinion certainly doesn’t count for everything, knowing that this is an official sequel, not an alternate universe or something, and that JKR has officially acknowledged that Hermione’s race was never specified and could easily be Black, is just so wonderful and has fulfilled the dreams of so many fans.
This play is definitely making me a Potter fanatic again. I’m so happy to see an interesting story and more diverse casting happening for the play. I’m beyond thrilled for canon Black Hermione and extremely jealous that I will probably be unable to get to England to see this play. If the rest of the Harry Potter franchise would do as well as this play, then I would be happy to see a whole new slew of Potter materials.