Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

J.K. Rowling

About the Author:
Joanne "Jo" Rowling, pen name J. K. Rowling, is a British novelist, screenwriter and film producer best known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. The books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, and sold more than 400 million copies. They have become the best-selling book series in history and been the basis for a series of films over which Rowling had overall approval on the scripts and maintained creative control by serving as a producer on the final installment. Born in Yate, Gloucestershire, England, Rowling was working as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International when she conceived the idea for the Harry Potter series while on a delayed train from Manchester to London in 1990. The seven-year period that followed saw the death of her mother, birth of her first child, divorce from her first husband and relative poverty until she finished the first novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, in 1997. There were six sequels, the last, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, in 2007. Since then, Rowling has written four books for adult readers, The Casual Vacancy (2012) and—under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith—the crime fiction novels The Cuckoo's Calling (2013), The Silkworm (2014) and Career of Evil (2015). Rowling has lived a "rags to riches" life story, in which she progressed from living on state benefits to multi-millionaire status within five years. She is the United Kingdom's best-selling living author, with sales in excess of £238M. The 2016 Sunday Times Rich List estimated Rowling's fortune at £600 million, ranking her as the joint 197th richest person in the UK.[8] Time magazine named her as a runner-up for its 2007 Person of the Year, noting the social, moral, and political inspiration she has given her fans. In October 2010, Rowling was named the "Most Influential Woman in Britain" by leading magazine editors. She has supported charities including Comic Relief, One Parent Families, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain and Lumos (formerly the Children's High Level Group). (Wikipedia)

The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.
Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London's West End on July 30, 2016. It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn't much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children. 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. (Barnes and Noble)

Discussion Questions:

  • Why is Harry Potter's eighth story a play rather than a novel? What can theatre do that novels can't? How would the story be different if it were in book form?
  • Why is the play so long? Why is it divided into four acts (rather than, you know, the usual three)? Describe the plot arc of each act. Does each act have a beginning, middle, and end? Does each act have rising action and a climax? Could the two parts stand alone?
  • How would you describe Harry as a parent? What contributes to Harry's lack of parenting skills? Why has it taken Harry so long to realize that he isn't a good father to Albus? Is it possible for him to be a bad father to Albus but a good father to his other children?
  • Is Harry a bad dad? Is Albus a bad son?
  • Compare and contrast the relationships between the three main teen characters—Albus, Scorpius, and Delphi—and their fathers. How are their relationships similar? How are they different?
  • Are you surprised by any returning characters in the play? Do they act as you thought they would? Which characters change during the play and which characters remain the same?
  • If you could see the play on stage, which scene do you most want to see? Why? Which scenes are difficult to understand when reading them in script form?
  • If the play is made into a film, should the original cast return?
  • What do you think of Jack Thorne's writing style? Does his writing sound like J.K. Rowling's?