Archives For Harry Potter

I thought I’d write a bit about Harry Potter, because everyone else is today.

Over in London the new stage production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child officially premieres, although previews have been running since before I was there last month. I badly wanted to see the show, but tickets were long sold out before I had made my summer travel plans.

Tomorrow the script version of the two plays (yes, two) is published, and it’s being treated as quite the event, bringing back the magic (sorry, got a better word for it?) of the midnight release parties that occurred ever few years during the first decade of this still-young century. I went to quite a few of those and they were a lot of fun. My own professional career as an educator and theatre director is bonded heavily to the Harry Potter series. The first book was published during my first year as an elementary school teacher, my students would beg me to read the books aloud in class, and summers doing theatre with Limelight was often paired with a release of a new book. I shared the love and enthusiasm of Harry and Hermione and Luna and Snape, Snape, Severus Snape with students, actors, fellow directors and teachers, and friends.

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Oklahoma! and the Half-Blood Prince, Summer 2005

It is probably the last great series of epic, youth-oriented stories that I will fall in love with, as I slide deeper into middle age. Well, save the Marvel Cinematic Universe that is currently knocking it out of the park with each and every film they release. But that is based in a childhood (and a lot of my adult years) spent reading a lot of Marvel comics.

So a lot of articles floating around the internet today are asking questions about the Potter franchise and nostalgia and whether or not we need any “new” Harry Potter stories, and if this will simply tarnish the brand.

(Ugh. I just used the words “franchise” and “brand” in that last paragraph, and that’s not what this article is about. Go elsewhere to read that kind of story.)

I think it’s important to be aware of what today and tonight are not: this is not the eighth novel, and this is not written by J.K. Rowling. It is a two-part script written by playwright Jack Thorne. And so it is foolish to try and treat this as a case of nostalgic time travel to those moments from a decade or so ago. We had seven books (and eight films), and that was it. After you make that midnight purchase, remember that you are reading a play script, based on an idea by Jo Rowling, and that the experience is going to be a little different. You may not be able to hear the bell anymore, to reference another classic of youth literature.

I think the real magic (sorry) is happening to those people watching a new Harry Potter story be told on stage, something that has never happened before. The reviews of Cursed Child have been overwhelmingly positive, and my Twitter feed has been filled with gushing fans walking out of the shows excited and amazed. It’s a shame we all can’t experience that together in one great shared moment like we did with the books, but that’s what makes this 2-part play special. They are trying something new, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Harry and Ron and Ginny and Draco are now middle-aged, stressed and tired, and for the first time I will probably find myself identifying with them more than I did in the past. (I was always a Remus Lupin man, that kind, lonely teacher of Hogwarts.) But it will not be a case of going back to the well of nostalgia, and I reject this notion that writers are putting out there. This is not the Star Wars prequels, or even The Force Awakens. And it is certainly not the travesty and outright-lie of Go Set a Watchman. 

Harry Potter is not “back,” because he never went away. It’s only been five years since I saw the last film with my niece. Harry Potter marathons on cable still stop teens and twentysomethings in their tracks. Every Halloween my school is filled with boys and girls dressed as Harry and Hermione. My fourth graders spent an entire school year writing their own Harry Potter-esque play for a creative arts assignment.

What J.K. Rowling created is a story for the ages. It is Star Wars for the generation or two that came after me. And yes, franchises aren’t allowed to end anymore, and so what? I’ll read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child mostly to find out “what happened next” after the epilogue in Deathly Hallows, knowing it’s not the full story, and you better believe I’m getting ready to head back to London to see the story the way it’s meant to be told. And I hope I get to share that experience with some of you.

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Tears in Space

October 6, 2013 — Leave a comment

Antibiotics don’t seem to be doing a lot, as the cough is still ever-present. Doc recommended I get some Mucinex-D, but that stuff’s expensive, and I’ve got more important things to spend my spare cash on, like movies and pizza.

I’ve been doing nothing but sit around the house the past two days, and so I decided to get out of the house and go see Gravity, a film I’ve been dying to see for quite a while now. I’ve refused to watch any trailers or read any reviews or articles about the film. I just wanted to go in blind and enjoy the latest from Alfonso Cuaron. He directed both Children of Men and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, both of which I’ve probably watched 5-6 times each. He’s one of the most talented filmmakers I’ve seen in the past twenty years, and I only wish he didn’t take so long in-between projects.

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But boy is his stuff worth the wait. Gravity is, simply, astonishing. I’m not even going to go into any details, but if you’re reading this, I highly, highly recommend you pony up the cash to see it in 3-D and in IMAX. Now, I tend to avoid both formats whenever possible, as I find 3-D mostly annoying, unless the filmmaker is really doing something interesting with it, like Henry Selick and Coraline and Martin Scorcese’s Hugo. IMAX is also a distraction for me mostly for aspect ratio tastes. It tends to be a little overwhelming when you’re presented with an image so enveloping.

But with Gravity, all of this works in the film’s favor, creating an unsettling sense of immediacy and disorientation. To put it simply, you are right there with Bullock and Clooney. It’s like they took them up in a rocket and shot the film in space. It’s that real.

Swung by work where I found two other fifth grade teachers prepping for tomorrow. Got caught up with planning for Monday, had plans to make some chicken tacos, but I’m feeling too blah to actually put any effort into cooking tonight. Thankfully, Gario’s delivers…

Just a quick entry today…finally went to the doctor and got an antibiotic. He didn’t think it was too serious. Might even be allergy-related, which means the antibiotic will be irrelevant.

Thanks to the Dead Homer Society for linking to my post about Mike and Liz from the other day. Featuring them on a Simpsons site is just about the best gift you could give those two.

Here’s something I found on the wall of a school I was teaching in last year. I’m pretty sure that’s He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named on the left, but I’m not positive who he’s giving the ole Avada Kedavra to, nor why they have a little person in their hand. Perhaps those more learned than me can solve this mystery.

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