[Show music begins]
Michael Harle: This is Episode 215 of Alohomora! for March 19, 2017.
[Show music continues]
Michael: Welcome, listeners, back to another episode of Alohomora!, where we open the Dumbledore on discussions about the Harry Potter series. I’m Michael Harle.
Kat Miller: I’m Kat Miller.
Alison Siggard: And I’m Alison Siggard. And our guest this week is Ana. Welcome, Ana!
Ana: Thank you. Hi, everyone!
Alison: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into Harry Potter, your House, [and] all that cool stuff.
Ana: Yeah, okay. So I’m very happy to be here, first of all. Also a bit scared because I know this is such a controversial topic.
Michael: [laughs] Don’t be scared.
Michael: We picked you specifically for this. You’re doing just fine already, Ana.
Ana: Yeah, thank you. So anyway, I live in Sweden and it’s almost 2:00 a.m. over here, so I think my brain is with me. So that’s good.
Michael: Oh, wow.
Ana: We’ll see how it goes. But thank you for starting a bit earlier, by the way. I appreciate that. So basically, I spent my whole evening watching Deathly Hallows – Part[s] 1 and 2 because what better way to put me in the mood for this magical night? So yeah, I grew up with the books. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to do that. I read the first book when I was 11-ish, but I didn’t become part of the community until I was in my teens. I love Book 5 – it’s my favorite book – and after reading it, I went online and googled “Harry Potter” and was introduced to a world of fics, forums, podcasts, fansites, and all of that. So I started listening to MuggleCast and then also Alohomora!, of course, when you guys came along. I got Sorted in Slytherin on Pottermore and on basically every other Sorting test I ever took.
Alison and Michael: Oh!
Ana: Yeah, so I really identify with that House. And I think you’ve had a lot of guests who have been Slytherins, right?
Michael: These days we seem to get more Slytherins than we do Gryffindors.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Ana: Well, we’re just so ambitious that we have to be on the show.
Michael: That’s wonderful. That’s what we love about Slytherins.
Michael: So I always love to ask – especially when we have international guests on the show – Ana, did you read Harry Potter in English, or in your case, did you read it in Swedish?
Ana: No, I actually read it in English. And that’s very important to me, to read it in the original language because I don’t want any translations or any changes from the holy JKR writing style.
Michael: That tends to be the thing we hear most, actually, when we have guests who speak other languages. Because a lot of people say that they maybe sometimes tried to read it in their native language and noticed immediately, just because of something about the writing, that they felt something was off or different about the translation and they wanted to try and read it in English. We’ve even had listeners who didn’t speak English who have said that Harry Potter actually helped them to learn how to speak English, which I thought was pretty cool.
Ana: I think I did read the first two or three books maybe in Swedish because I was just a kid, but then as I grew up I started wanting to read them in English, actually.
Michael: That’s fantastic. That’s so cool. I still need to make good on my reverse version of that because I’ve picked up a version of Sorcerer’s Stone in Spanish. I feel like I know the books so well now, I could read it.
Alison: I should do that too.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Ana: Yeah, but it’s very good for learning languages, actually, just motivating yourself by reading Harry Potter in a different language. I think that’s great.
Michael: Yeah, that’s really cool.
Kat: I went trolling eBay the other day to find the Japanese covers because I still really want those. I am not a book collector by any means – I know it’s blasphemy – but I want those Japanese covers so badly. I’d never be able to learn the language, probably, but I still just want those covers on my shelf so bad.
Ana: I’ve never seen them. What’s on them?
Kat: Oh, they’re beautiful! Google them.
Michael: They’re unusual.
Ana: Oh, okay.
Michael: Yeah, they’re something else. Kat, I got to see them for the first time because when I started at the library, we had them on the shelves.
Kat: [gasps] Steal them! Just kidding.
Michael: That’s a great way to lose my job.
[Ana and Michael laugh]
Kat: When I come see you again, we’re going to go there and I want to look at them and take pictures with them. Will that be okay?
Michael: Yes, and I’ll take pictures for you so you can at least get a closer glimpse of them. But yeah, they’re pretty cool. And they are split into two, just like we found out. The later ones.
Kat: Yes! FaceTime me next time you’re at the library. I want to see them.
Michael: They have little drawings in them too. They actually have their own versions of chapter drawings and things in them.
Kat: Oh! They sound amazing.
Alison: Awesome. Oh my gosh.
Michael: They’re very unique. But Ana, we are glad that you are here and we know you’re nervous about this topic.
Ana: Yes. [laughs]
Michael: But we’re glad that you joined us because, listeners, this week we are – hashtag – once again breaking the curse on Cursed Child.
[Alison, Ana, and Kat laugh]
Michael: We are trying to figure out: Is Cursed Child canon? And we’re going to present our thoughts and arguments on that.
Alison: But before we get into that… because we’re going to get into it…
Alison: … we just want to let you all know that this episode is sponsored by Paul Gomila, who is one of our fabulous Patreon sponsors for over a year. A full year! That’s amazing. [applauds]
Michael: And our guest from last week.
Kat: Yeah, he was our guest from last episode.
Michael: That Paul, Slythenpuffdor.
Kat: Hello, Paul!
Kat: Thank you, Paul.
Alison: Yay! Look, he’s double special because he was on the last one and this one.
Kat: If we had picked him for last week that would have been very funny.
Alison: That would’ve been great.
Kat: Should’ve done that. Didn’t think about it.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: But thank you, Paul.
Alison: Yay! [applauds]
Michael: We’re so glad you were on the show and that you’re sponsoring Alohomora!
Alison: Thank you so much. Thank you to all of our sponsors; you’re all amazing. And if you would like to become a sponsor and you haven’t yet, you can do that for as little as $1/month. And we will continue to release exclusive tidbits for our sponsors. Things are happening. We’re getting things going.
Kat: Alison and I are going to be together in about three weeks…
Alison: That’s true.
Kat: … so Patreon people, expect some weird stuff. Just saying.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: Yep, probably.
Michael: I ran into a little snag with the video gaming, but I am working on a [way] around [it]. Apparently, NVIDIA does not want to record Harry Potter specifically for reasons I have not figured out yet.
Kat: Oh, Warner Bros.
Michael: Yes. I have some other solutions. It was great, though, because I recorded a play-through for an hour and a half before I realized it didn’t record.
Kat: Oh no!
Michael: So I tried, listeners. I’m really trying. I’m going to get you this play-through. And at least I’ve done it once now, and it probably will be more entertaining this time because now I know what I’m doing. So yay!
[Ana and Michael laugh]
Kat: Oh my gosh, that sucks.
Michael: [laughs] Hey, it’s fine. It doesn’t suck too bad. At least I was playing Harry Potter.
Kat: That’s true. There are worse things, I suppose.
Michael: Yes. [laughs]
Kat: So as usual, I guess we decided… We’ve been doing this when the episode suits it, and this time we thought it was definitely appropriate that we start off with our overall impressions. If you’ve listened to the Cursed Chid episodes, the four we had plus the bonus one on the production… which I just realized I haven’t listened to since I saw the show, so maybe I’ll go back and listen to that. Not maybe. Definitely. So if you’ve listened to the five episodes of Cursed Child, you probably remember where we stand. However, we haven’t really talked about this canon issue before. Jo has come out and said that it’s canon, but just because Jo said it doesn’t mean you have to agree with it.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Kat: So this time we are going to be very respectful and we are going to debate this issue. And you will be very happy to know we have a very diverse panel of hosts today. So as far as I’m concerned, Cursed Child is 100% not-even-remotely-on-any-planet-in-this-galaxy/solar-system/universe canon, in any way, shape, or form.
[Ana and Michael laugh]
Kat: So that’s me. I am most definitely the “no” side of this debate. [laughs]
Michael: So if aliens came to visit Earth and you showed them the Harry Potter books, you’d have Cursed Child separated from them.
Kat: I would!
Michael: You’d be like, “You can read it, but don’t consider it part of the story.”
Kat: Right. “You can read it and enjoy it,” because I did enjoy it, if you all remember. I enjoyed Cursed Child a lot. I thought it was very funny and very witty. The production is incredible; I absolutely love it. Jamie Parker is the Harry Potter of my dreams. Doesn’t mean it’s canon. Michael, you’re up. [laughs]
Michael: [laughs] Well, for my part, as you listeners may remember – and you probably are still hearing about it if you follow me on Twitter because every once in a while even if I don’t bring it up, one of my Twitter followers does and suddenly we’re talking about Cursed Child, almost like it’s given all of us PTSD in some way, shape, or form – I am not a fan of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I definitely will say, to clarify, that my issue does probably stem from the fact that I was one of the most staunch defenders of it before it was released. I was like, “Let’s give it a chance. It could be really good. This could be amazing. I’m all for it.” And then it smacked me in the face.
Michael: And I really, having read it fully twice now, do not particularly care to take it as canon. But I am open to using it for its little bits and pieces that it fills holes in with more technical Harry Potter-related stuff: “Oh hey, these spells are canon now. Oh hey, this location is canon now.” Or [if] there’s a clarification about something, sure, I guess I can take that as canon. You’re going to find that my canon is a little more flexible, but about as flexible as my wand. It’s got minimal flexibility.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Michael: But overall, the story itself… I can’t. I’m sorry, I can’t. [laughs] That’s where I stand.
Kat: Okay. Al. You, Alison.
Alison: Well, anyone who has listened to those five episodes knows that I will go down with this play, pretty much.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Alison: I mean, I fell in love with it when I saw it. I loved it again reading it. I am all about it. I think especially, thematically, it very much fits with the other books, so I take it as pretty much canon except for one thing.
Alison: One thing that I’m just like, “No,” and a couple things that I think just need a little more explanation, and that explanation just got cut. It’s a casualty of the medium of it being a play.
Kat: I still wonder how different your opinion would be if you hadn’t seen it before you read it.
Alison: Yeah! I do think about that sometimes.
Kat: That’s always going to be a what-if for us. Because obviously, the beautiful stage production influences that opinion of the script.
Alison: Yes, yes.
Michael: I thought you were going to say, “Obviously, the beautiful actors on stage influence it.”
Kat: Oh, well, not going to deny that either.
Alison: They do.
Kat: I just found a picture of Jamie Parker last night from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and I was like, “Oh my gosh!” Sorry.
Michael: I mean, did you see the YouTube videos where he sings?
Kat: Oh yeah.
Michael: Dang, that’s dreamy.
Kat: Yeah, he’s beautiful.
Michael: And to be fair, I do recall from our previous conversations about Cursed Child that Alison did mention that as she was reading the script, she was slightly confused by how badly the script conveyed things that she felt the actual show succeeded on.
Alison: Yeah. Whoever wrote those stage directions for the script that got released did not do a great job at all.
Kat: Thank goodness this is just the rehearsal script. So okay, so far we have the spectrum of not-at-all-canon, a-little-bit-canon, [and] mostly-canon. And now, Ana, your thoughts?
Ana: Yes. I am Team Canon.
[Ana and Michael laugh]
Kat: Hey, Team Canon.
Ana: Please, no one hate me for this. I actually haven’t seen it yet. I’m going to see it next year because I finally, finally got a ticket.
Ana: Yay! So I’m very excited about that after staying up all night. Anyway, I did read the script and I would say that it does satisfy my definition of canon. So yeah, definitely.
Michael: Oh, you’re so lucky that you get to go see it. I am already resigned to the fact that I am not seeing the London production. Hopefully, someday…
Michael: Oh, I don’t have the money to go to London right now, nor the time.
Ana: Oh, I think it will come to Broadway or something. I did hear about that.
Michael: Yes. I was actually reading about the New York production that’s coming in 2018, and I definitely would like to see if I can manage that at some point. But I guess part of it, too, was there [were] just such rave reviews about the London cast and I’m assuming very few, if any of them, will transfer over to the US version. And also, transferring to a different theater will necessitate changes of any kind, and potentially… I don’t know if the plan was to have John Tiffany actually come out and direct the US version either. So there could potentially be some alterations from the UK version.
Kat: Right. I don’t think we know that yet. Actually, contracts for the original cast are up in May, so it might be that even as soon as [in] a couple of months, you’re seeing new people in the roles of these characters.
Ana: Yeah, I’ll be sorry for that but it’s unavoidable, I think.
Kat: Yes, for sure. And it begs the question, too – and I feel like this is a perfect time to talk about it since we’re talking about the show – what is canon, as far as the production goes? Because every iteration of the show can’t be canon. So does the actual production of the show fit into the universe at all, or is it merely the story and the characters? Is Jamie Parker actually Cursed Child’s Harry Potter, and how is that going to work moving forward? It’s a messy, messy world, Cursed Child. [laughs]
Ana: Yeah, it is. I would say that only the text… I mean, the script itself will be canon. Because I think actors usually improvise stuff when they’re on the stage, so I wouldn’t consider those things canon if it’s just an actor coming up with an idea that they think is cool so they will just run with it, or something like that.
Kat: Mm. I think that they would be hard-pressed to improvise Harry Potter.
[Alison and Ana laugh]
Alison: I’m actually going to disagree because I think they’re going to keep it as similar as is physically possible. Because John Tiffany and Jack Thorne are going to stay very much involved, I think every iteration is going to be as similar as you possibly can have it with different people. I think [one of] the things that this first cast was lucky enough to do was that they got to pick some of these things that I think everybody who comes after them is going to have to adopt.
Kat: Like [what]?
Alison: Mannerisms, some of the ways they interpret some of the lines… I’m especially thinking about Jamie Parker and I’m thinking about Anthony Boyle…
Kat: I’m always thinking about Jamie Parker. Sorry, I’ll stop.
Kat: That’s my fault. I’m the one who threw out the bad joke.
Alison: That’s okay. We all know who I’m always thinking about, so it’s fine.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Alison: I think especially these ones that have really defined these characters, a little bit more solidified the definition of these characters… it’s going to be the way that everybody else is going to have to do it. So I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of change. That being said, I hope they print a better version of the script that includes some of those things. [laughs]
Ana: Yeah, I was going to ask about that, actually. When is the final script coming out? Because we only have the rehearsal edition. So is there any…?
Kat: Right. They’ve been very ambiguous about the date.
Ana: Oh yeah.
Alison: It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s sometime around when Broadway is getting ready to open.
Ana: Oh, no!
Michael: I know they were originally looking at sometime this year, but I’m also probably on the same page as you, Alison, that there’s too good of a marketing opportunity to pull it out when the New York production arrives. It would be foolish to just do it in between because you can just reignite the hype and the excitement. I’m sure they are going to put it out with the promise that there [are] more details; there [are] things that haven’t been explored in the rehearsal script. What I think is probably right about what you were saying, Alison – because I remember both you and Steve Vander Ark putting that forth on one of the Cursed Child episodes – that obviously you can look on the back of your copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and you’ll see that little stamp of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. This is a very well-controlled property at this point, and I think that to some degree, yeah, some of the choices that the actors made are probably going to make their ways into the scripts. I don’t know how extreme it’s going to be able to be because, as Kat mentioned, with the actors’ contracts wearing out, it’s not like the actors are going to be coaching the next group of actors. There’s maybe some level of that when you have understudies. They’ll definitely probably interact with them briefly, but like I said before, there’s an inevitable amount of some change. The theater that they’re going to be in in New York is not going to be exactly the same theater that they’re in in the UK, and that’s going to have to necessitate certain aesthetic changes. I mean, there’s the idea, too, that Rowling was hoping early on that this goes on tour. That’s definitely going to have to [change]; I don’t know how that’s going to work. But if that happens, that’s going to have to necessitate changes because even shows that go on tour from Broadway will change dramatically because they have to shrink down. I saw a version of Mary Poppins in Albuquerque, and it was really cool because the way that they did it was the Banks’ house was a dollhouse. It was kind of done where the house folded out into the set. But in the Broadway version they didn’t do that because they didn’t have to compact the set because it was there all the time.
Alison: But the nice thing about the sets and stuff they’ve done for Cursed Child is [that] they’re pretty minimalist. They just have the rolling staircases; they have the big clock one…
Kat: The giant turntable on stage, the underwater tank, the giant Dementors coming down from the ceiling…
Kat: Sorry, Al. There’s a lot of stuff.
Alison: Okay. But I feel like those things are things that you could easily adapt to a different stage. It’s not going to be…
Kat: “Adapt,” meaning “change.”
Alison: Well, okay, but not change too much. It’s not like the Wicked stage where it’s, like, insane. It’s not the Matilda… I mean, I guess the Matilda stage could be fairly easy to shuffle around.
Kat: I think my biggest concern with Cursed Child coming to America is: Are they going to pull a Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone?
Alison: Oh, they better not.
Kat: Are they going to change and Americanize parts of the script for us “stupid Americans”?
Alison: I don’t think they can at this point. I don’t think they can do that again. They stopped doing that in the books because everybody started knowing this is British, and so they started expecting things to be British. And I think if they tried to do that again, people would lose their minds. [laughs]
Michael: That is also something that’s really, actually, oddly difficult to do with plays, because there’s a definitiveness to a book of a play or a script of a play, versus there tends to actually be more open-endedness with an interpretation as far as stage directions and stage design, as opposed to the script itself. Scripts, for whatever reason, people are pretty rigid about. You usually can’t add lines, subtract lines, or alter lines. There may be some little things here and there that they might want to Americanize for clarification, but I don’t know if that will happen on a grandiose amount. But yeah, for me, just with my personal experience and understanding of theater, that’s why it’s hard for me to consider Cursed Child canon as far as its theatrical production. Whatever attempts they try to maintain it, there are going to have to be changes to some degree here and there. It’s inevitable.
Kat: I think that there can be an alpha production. And obviously, what’s happening right now is the alpha production, and that’s the one that people will talk about and look back to, but it’ll never be the same. And therefore, yeah, I agree. Not that you can ever really consider a production canon [and] part of the universe. But for those reasons, the fact that the only constant in a production is change, it just can’t ever stay the same.
Ana: Yeah, but I also think that it’s very unlikely that they will actually change the story from one production to another. So I think that if we think about the script as canon, then that’s sort of fixed in a way, if you know what I mean.
Kat: Yeah, for sure.
Michael: That would make sense, then, in that respect, to look at the script as more of a canon. But of course, in this case, too, we have the instance of another script coming and eventually people might be disregarding the rehearsal script as canon.
Kat: [laughs] Which is another issue all in itself, right?
Kat: It’s another issue all in itself. And this is a reminder that canon debates, guys, have been around for a really ridiculously long time. Every fandom has this problem. Not generally as complex as this problem, but every fandom has some level of the canon debate and discussion. What is and what isn’t. Star Wars, really good example; Star Trek, really good example; Harry Potter, fantastic example. Lord of the Rings, for goodness sake, is also another good one.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: Marvel. Oh, DC. There are so many.
Alison: It’s not even fandoms, though, either; it’s [also] literature. People still argue about the Western literature canon and what should be included and what shouldn’t be included. I mean, it’s a huge deal. [laughs]
Michael: Well, didn’t we discuss [canon] on a previous episode? Rosie and Alison, I think, had more to say about this, but the idea goes back more to biblical canon. That’s its roots: what about the bible is canon and what’s not canon. Which, thank goodness, we’re not debating that here, because who knows? There would never be enough episodes to finish.
Kat: No. [laughs] Never. And the thing, too, that we want to remind everybody out there again, is that these are our opinions. And everybody approaches canon in a very different way. You bring your experiences from life: your bias, your political affiliation, your religion, your sex, your status in the world, your class… everything. It comes into play when you’re talking about canon and how you think about canon, so just keep that in mind. And when you’re listening to this and you’re like, “Oh my God, I absolutely hate what that person just said,” just remember, they’re our opinions and we’re not here to change your mind or preach to you about what we think is right or wrong. Because debates are not meant to be won. They are simply discussions. So just keep that in mind. Wanted to throw that out there.
Alison: Because when it really comes down to it, everybody gets to decide what they take and what they don’t take.
Alison: So that’s that.
Kat: This isn’t like the Snape debate or anything, guys, where obviously… Just kidding.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: Well, with that said, I believe it was Ana who put in a note about bias and subjectivity when it comes to canon. Ana, did you want to speak to that a little bit?
Ana: So basically what I mean by that is that I think, from what I’ve noticed online anyway, there seems to be two different sides. And the people who like Cursed Child are usually also the people who think it should be canon, and the people who don’t like it or don’t agree with the story are the people who don’t think it should be canon. And I haven’t seen that many people somewhere in the middle, like, “Okay, I hate Cursed Child but I think it’s canon,” or “I like it but I don’t think it’s canon.” So that’s why I’m wondering, how can we separate, put aside our personal feelings, and just think about canon as something that’s maybe outside of our own subjectivity? Maybe it’s something more objective. “I can still hate it and think it’s canon,” or things like that.
Kat: That’s so funny, and I’m actually one of those in-between people. Because, like I said, I enjoyed Cursed Child, but it’s 1,000% not canon for me. I’m actually going to put out a quick poll on Twitter because I’m really interested to know where the majority of people lie, because I have seen a lot of different opinions of people in the middle. So I’m going to put up that poll on Twitter right now while you discuss, Michael.
Michael: The interesting thing that I think we’ve seen with that is that even the individuals who embrace it as canon – I know that was something that Steve Vander Ark brought up, as somebody who has to figure out what’s canon and what’s not – have addressed that it’s difficult because there are certain things in Cursed Child that head butt with canon, at least with previously-established canon. So that also brings that into the debate as well, so that even the people who are maybe – at least in Steve’s position – having to put that bias aside are still having issues with how to sift through all of the information of Cursed Child to figure it out and fit it in with the canon. And unfortunately, I think the thing that’s being seen a lot is that people are having to… We’ve had a few discussions – I’m sure we will today – that [for] some of the issues that come up, the fandom is trying to come up with their own explanations about how to fit it in. But then again, that brings back that subjectivity, and because people are sometimes filling in the gaps with what they want, that’s also presenting complications.
Alison: And that’s what I was going to say. I think that’s a big problem with people either accepting or not accepting Cursed Child as canon. There were ten years between Deathly Hallows and this, and I think a lot of people had solidified their head canons or a lot of things had become popularly accepted ideas.
Alison: And then, all of the sudden, Cursed Child came and was like, “Mm… not really.” And so people were mad about it.
Ana: I think that it’s so hard because people are so emotionally invested. And like you said, it’s been ten years or something, so we are not really that flexible anymore. We cannot accept different characterizations, maybe, or they’re just easily let down, I think. And that’s why I think Fantastic Beasts was much more successful, because people didn’t have the same attachment to the characters. We didn’t really know them before seeing Fantastic Beasts, so it’s a completely different thing. And the reactions have been so positive to that movie.
Kat: And also, as far as Fantastic Beasts goes, there’s no debate that it’s canon because J.K. Rowling wrote it and she produced it and she was part of it from start to finish. For me, at least, that is where the issue lies with Cursed Child.
Alison: See, but I…
Kat: We’ll get there!
Michael: [laughs] In fact, that’s a pretty good place to actually start, Kat. It looks like you had sussed out a lot of the quotes from Rowling on that matter.
Kat: Yeah, some of them. So I wanted to bring up some quotes. As I’ve said, Cursed Child for me is definitely not canon. The biggest issue for me is the fact that J.K. Rowling didn’t write it. It wasn’t her pen on a piece of paper writing the words, which to me is 95% of what defines canon for me. And when I think about the other fandoms and places and people who have had other authors write things that end up being canon, it is most often because somebody takes over due to death or “disinterest” or selling the rights of that property and no longer being involved in any way, shape, and form, i.e., George Lucas and Star Wars.
Kat: Which is a perfect example because he completely stepped away from that and therefore has given up his right 1,000%. He has nothing to do with it anymore, as far as I’m aware. Somebody out there can correct me if I’m wrong.
Michael: No, that’s pretty much correct.
Kat: Right, exactly. So therefore, he no longer is the sole author of Star Wars because he walked away from it. He gave up that right and therefore, the things that are written after that… Obviously, it’s still debatable what is canon. The debate is always going to be there. But there’s more of a window for other people to write things that are generally accepted as canon, i.e., Episode VII, Rogue One, the Han Solo stuff… all of that, granted.
Alison: I am going to say, though, taking that example, it’s very different because – I was just talking to someone about this the other day – when you look at George Lucas’s storylines, he was fine when someone else wrote the dialogue. When you look at the dialogue in Episodes I, II, and III, it’s laughably bad in a lot of places because he’s not good at writing dialogue. So in the Star Wars case, it was actually kind of a boon to have someone else write the dialogue. And I think you could make that argument for Cursed Child, that J.K. Rowling had never written a theater script before. I personally think she was a lot more involved than a lot of other people think, because I see her fingerprints all over it.
Ana: Yeah, I would agree with that.
Alison: I see her themes. I see things that I’m like, “That’s a Jo line right there.” I see a lot of that. Maybe she didn’t write every single individual word, but I think she was much more involved in “Okay, here’s what’s happening. Here’s what characters are feeling. Here’s how we need to get this across.”
Kat: Okay, so then let me read you some quotes. Because I think it’s funny that you were talking about laughable lines, like if George Lucas was a crappy writer. I could talk about that for 12 hours, but I’m just going to read you some quotes.
Kat: I’ll let it sit. I’ll let somebody else, a listener, talk about that. So I’ve got some quotes. The first one here is from a BBC interview, and we will include all of the links in the description of the episode so you guys can go and watch the interview for yourself. So the BBC reporter’s name is Will and he says – and this is talking to Jo – “Is there a sense in your own mind that, philosophically, more than literally, that you don’t own Potter anymore, that it is owned by the fanbase?” So I transcribed these quotes, guys. They’re not exact; they are very close. Jo: “I wouldn’t go that far, Will. Because that would be – and I’m deadly serious – that would be to disavow what that world was to me. [For] seventeen years that world was mine, and for seven of those years it was entirely mine; not a living soul knew anything about it. And I can’t just uproot that from all of my personal experiences that inform those stories and say I’m throwing that away now, and that is how it would feel.” And then Jack Thorne says, “And as a fan, you want it to be her world, not our world. It is her world that we have been allowed to play in.” So I wanted to bring this one up because, as I said before, when an author walks away from their product [and] when they remove themself from it, it almost takes away their ownership of that thing. And this quote for me proves that J.K. Rowling will never let it go, ergo, anything else written by anybody else can’t be canon. Because J.K. Rowling is still involved in the world and is a part of that world, nobody else can write that stuff.
Ana: But I think that actually proves that it is canon because she’s involved and she’s been involved in Cursed Child. She’s calling it the eighth story.
Kat: But the quote doesn’t say she was involved with Cursed Child.
Alison: But she was.
Ana: But we know she was. There’s no reason to believe that she was lying when she said that she was, so that’s what I’m basing that on.
Alison: And having Jack Thorne say, “You want it to be her world, not our world,” tells you that they knew that they needed to do what she’s doing. I really like this quote because I think it goes against a lot of those people who don’t like Cursed Child and say it’s not canon because it goes against popular fan theories. Jo is not going to bow to fans, necessarily. She’s not going to give them something just because they want it. And that’s great because… I’m going to give an example from one of my favorite TV shows, Supernatural. Right now they’re kind of going downhill because they keep folding to what fans want more than anything, and it’s making their story suffer. Whereas things like Cursed Child, where JKR says, “We will tell the story that I am seeing. This is my world. I will tell that story and I will share it with you,” makes that even more canon. It’s going to make a better story even if it’s not what the fans necessarily want. Fans can be very entitled. [laughs]
Kat: Mm. Yes they can.
Alison: It’s a real problem I see lately. I think she’s right. I think she’s saying, “No, this is my world; I am always going to be involved in it.” And even if she gets someone else’s heads in there, I think that also makes it better to get other ideas, other people’s experiences, and add a little bit of that, because coming from a writing standpoint, you tend to start writing similar patterns [and] similar things. There [are] always going to be a couple of subjects, ideas, [and] themes that always, always, always nettle you just because of the kind of person you are and your personal experiences and what you’ve gone through in your life. So to have someone else’s viewpoint while still keeping it in your world, I think, makes it even a better story and helps it from getting too repetitive. It didn’t become a Harry Potter book rehashed; it became its own story. And we’ve talked about this before, how I don’t think it’s Harry’s eighth story. I think this is Albus’s story, and this is a new bubble on this line of this world.
Kat: We won’t even get to the fact that they’re calling it the eighth story because that’s a whole episode all in itself.
Alison: Yeah. [laughs]
Kat: I think it’s funny that – and this is going to come out like I’m totally saying that you’re wrong, but I can’t think of any other way to word it – I think it’s funny that you think that adding another opinion to it keeps her from being repetitive. In my opinion, if you can’t come up with a story that’s not repetitive, you shouldn’t write it.
[Kat’s stamp of approval sound]
Michael: Okay. So first of all, I want to add [that] it’s hard to use Star Wars as a comparative because Star Wars wasn’t always completely Lucas’s from the getgo.
Kat: Mhm. True.
Michael: The first one is probably the closest to being properly his, the original Star Wars: A New Hope. And after that, while he wrote the stories, they [got] a new treatment after he wrote the story out, and he didn’t direct a lot of the Star Wars films. And once Star Wars really began to explode, Lucas did outsource elements of Star Wars that became canon to other people – the books, the TV shows, all of the extra stuff that got added to that. And then when Disney bought it, it all got erased except a very small amount of stuff. So Star Wars has gone through an extremely catastrophic canon issue.
Michael: As far as what is being argued here, I put forth… and again, this is why we say this is all a matter of personal opinion. One of the reasons I didn’t like Cursed Child is because it did feel like a rehash to me in a lot of ways, because it’s super dependent on Goblet of Fire for its story. And while I’m not saying that it’s a repeat of Goblet of Fire and its themes and ideas, it just lifts things from Goblet of Fire – visuals and elements from Goblet of Fire as well as elements from other parts of the books – in a way, to me, that doesn’t feel fresh. I think the other issue again is that the story itself, the conflict at the heart of it, the father-son relationship – and again, this is totally a personal thing for me to say – feels super Tim Burton-y. Tim Burton loves his daddy issues in his movies, and this is the ultimate stereotypical daddy issue plot. And we’ll get into this as we start exploring specifics about it, but I think that all has a lot to do with how the 19 Years Later opening scene is constructed in the play versus the book.
Ana: Yeah, I think I agree with you, Michael, that it’s not really that original. But I think the point was that it should be nostalgic in some way. It should make the viewers and the readers revisit some of their favorite scenes and characters and so on. So I think that’s sort of the point, even though I understand why that’s disappointing to some people. I think that’s why they didn’t create something completely new from scratch. And then of course, maybe I have my own opinions about whether Goblet of Fire was the book that I would have wanted to revisit.
[Ana and Kat laugh]
Kat: Right. Yeah.
Ana: That’s a different story. Book 5 all the way.
Kat: Yes, Book 5! Yes! Sorry.
Alison: But I think revisiting Goblet of Fire is one of the only things that makes sense because in that Triwizard Tournament, we only ever got Harry’s point of view. Harry only ever got his point of view. So to all of a sudden remember that this world is bigger [and] there was so much more going on… because we start seeing these tasks from a totally different point of view. We start seeing it from the audience, from someone who’s not so emotionally – well, I guess they’re emotionally involved but in a different way. [laughs] They’re not necessarily emotionally involved in the Tournament itself; they’re more emotionally involved in what the Tournament did [and] what came after because of the Tournament, if that makes sense. So it is new.
Michael: But I feel like that just summarized Order of the Phoenix in that it’s the fallout of what happened because it affects Harry directly.
Alison: Well, Order is more like the emotional fallout. I feel like Cursed Child is more of the history fallout… [laughs] What’s the word I’m looking for?
Michael: The political and perhaps the social fallout?
Michael: The larger implications. But I think that’s Order of the Phoenix. Order of the Phoenix deals with that. That’s why it comes back to Harry, because people don’t believe him on the social and political level. But I think before we go that far, maybe, Kat, you want to read some more of these quotes that you found as far as Rowling’s thoughts?
Kat: Yeah, sure. I pulled out a few more. There has always been this debate: How involved was J.K. Rowling in the creation of Cursed Child? And we know for a fact she didn’t write it. Yes, she is credited as a writer, but she didn’t write it. And so I found a couple of quotes. Again, I don’t like to pull quotes that are just 100% what I believe because I think, “What’s the point in that?” There’s no reason to do that. I like quotes that are ambiguous; that way we can discuss them. So this first one here came from [the] Harry Potter and the Cursed Child red carpet gala. Jo was speaking directly to somebody on the Cursed Child team, so this can be found on the Cursed Child YouTube channel. You don’t get to hear the interviewer’s question; however, Jo says, “Since the first time Sonia came into my office and said, ‘I’d like to make a play,’ and I liked Sonia loads so I thought this could be interesting, and we found Jack and John and the rest is history.” So besides the fact that Jo didn’t write it, this wasn’t her idea. Even if she contributed to it, the fact that someone approached her about it and initiated the entire process is strike one for me. It’s strike one. And that’s a big deal. For me, that’s a really big deal.
Alison: I’m going to argue there’s a difference between the story being her idea and the concept of making a play being an idea. Because this sounds to me like Sonia came in and said, “Let’s make a play,” and Jo was like, “That sounds cool,” and then she started thinking, “Okay, what could this play be about? What could we do with it?” And then they started putting ideas out there together, figuring them out: “okay, what’s going to work as a play? What’s going to work story-wise?” And so I see that as two different ideas.
Kat: 100% agree with you.
Alison: So I don’t see why it’s a problem, though, because I feel like that’s just… This is the medium this story is in, versus the story itself.
Ana: I’m sorry, can I just interject something there? Is it okay if we all start by defining what canon is to us? Because I think that would be helpful for me personally and for the listeners maybe just going ahead. How do we define canon in order to discuss if this qualifies, actually?
Kat: Sure. Yeah, why don’t you go first?
Ana: Okay. So for me, I don’t have my own definition; I have a definition from the Merriam-Webster and the Oxford Dictionary, and it says that canon is “the works of an author which are considered to be genuine or authentic.” So yeah, that would be the one I’m using. It has to be a work by J.K. Rowling – it cannot just be something that she’s said once or twice – and it has to be authentic, which I’m guessing is what we’re discussing right now, right? The authenticity or lack thereof.
Michael: Yeah. I guess I’ll go. My idea of canon is more flexible, like I said; like my wand, but not very. When it comes to things… like, Rowling has mentioned that there [are] 1,000 students at Hogwarts, and you do the math and that’s not really possible.
Michael: My canon tends to be a little more like, “Well, as long as it wasn’t contradicted, sure.” But I think the issue I ran into with Cursed Child… and it’s so perfect that you summarized that at the beginning, Ana, about issues of subjectivity and bias. Because really, what happened for me is that Cursed Child heavily affected how I personally interpret the epilogue of Deathly Hallows. And not just because there were things that were altered about the epilogue in Cursed Child, but a lot of the things afterward, I think, contradict what I chose to take away from Deathly Hallows. And in that way, I’m also saying the epilogue is open to interpretation and therefore, probably a lot of people who like Cursed Child interpret the epilogue differently than I do. So Cursed Child got on to a more, I guess, personal level for me of how I interpret Harry Potter and what it means to me. So it expanded my issues with how to interpret canon because really, up to that point it was mostly things like, “Well, as long as Rowling doesn’t say a gross contradiction, then that’s fine, or something that’s just way out of left field or something that…” Because there [are] rarely things that I won’t take as canon. Even the 800-word prequel, which has very little to no context whatsoever, I’m like, “Sure! Fine, that can be canon. Why not? It doesn’t hurt anything, so sure.”
Kat: My definition of canon isn’t far from yours but it’s certainly more rigid. I believe that there are three rules that define canon, and I actually wrote a whole article about this on MuggleNet. If you go to MuggleNet and search “What is canon?”, I wrote Part 1. And so my three rules are, “Does the information take place in the individual’s fictional universe?” If it does, there’s one. “Is it generally accepted by the readers as being true?” And the third is, “Does it alter anything J.K. Rowling has written in the past?” That is a big one. If it meets all three of those guidelines, for me, it’s canon. If it doesn’t, or it’s extended or it’s alternate universe or whatever… I like to look at the Wizarding World canon – and I think I’ve said this on the show before – as a box. So you have this big box, and in that box there are little boxes. One of those little boxes is the seven novels, one of those little boxes is the eight films, one of those little boxes is Pottermore, and one of them is Jo’s old site. Another is her Twitter. And Cursed Child… I know we’re debating it now, and I want to be clear when I said before that it wasn’t canon: It’s not canon as it relates to the seven Harry Potter novels. I don’t think I said that before. Cursed Child has its own box in the Wizarding World larger canon, and so within itself and its own little story, great! It’s its own little thing. If you try to relate it to anything else in the world, it breaks all of those rules for me, and ergo, not canon.
Alison: See, that’s funny because I have a similar visual image of it, but I see it as it does connect; it just connects differently. My basic canon definition is anything written and sanctioned by J.K. Rowling. If she says this is the way it is, that is the way it is, and I’m okay with that. [laughs] But I see these as… The only other example I can think of that helps illustrate this is if anyone has read all of Rick Riordan’s books where you’ve got the one story that is Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Those first five books… one story, cool. Now we move on to what happened after that, which forms its own little story, which is Heroes of Olympus. Cool. Then you’ve got his Magnus Chase, you’ve got Trials of Olympus, you’ve got these little offshoot kind of things because… Maybe it’s just the way I see stories. Stories are carved-out little sections of something bigger. We tell stories because they are carved-out sections of life, so these writers that expand their world – expand their ideas – take a larger world. So in this case, J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. And she started by carving out the story of Harry Potter from Harry Potter’s perspective. And now we’re getting a new carved-out story, which is Albus’s story. So I think that helps with Michael’s issues with the epilogue, because the epilogue in Deathly Hallows comes from Harry’s… I mean, there [are] other issues with it, too, and I will concede those, but that comes from Harry’s point of view. That is the epilogue of Harry’s story, but in a lot of ways that is the beginning of Albus’s story and those are two different things. So then we’ve also got this new story that’s getting carved out: Fantastic Beasts. So if there’s this big timeline of all of these things happening in this whole big world, we’re just getting these little bits. But they all go together.
Ana: Yeah, I would agree with that, and I would also add that for future generations of fans… I mean, obviously, we grew up with the books and the books are holy to us, but I think to other generations of fans that are just coming now or just discovering Harry Potter, then they might discover Fantastic Beasts first or even Cursed Child first, for example. So it’s not like they’re going to have that hierarchy with the books at the top and then the rest of the stories. You don’t know exactly which entry point they might have in the Potterverse, I think.
Kat: Okay, so thank you for bringing that up, Ana. I do think that that is very important to get out there, and hopefully that will help the listeners understand where we’re coming from a bit as well. So I did have a couple other quotes here that I wanted to read before we moved on. The next one here comes from a BBC interview, and it’s with Jack, John, and Jo. All the J’s there.
Kat: And again, it’s from the same interview that I read from before. The interviewer’s name is Will, and he says, “You’re all credited as writers,” meaning Jack, John, and Jo, “so how did that actually work in practice?” And John says, “The three of us talked and discussed the story, which Jack then wrote down, and we didn’t start writing the play as such – or Jack didn’t – until we had agreed on what that story was.” Jack: “And then I tried to write a script…” Jo: “Well, you did write a script! Jack produced an amazing script.” To me, that says that yes, J.K. Rowling was there and discussed the story with them, but Jo says right there, “Jack produced an amazing script.”
Alison: So my question, then, to you is – to use another example of something like this – would you say in a TV show, the only episodes that can be considered canon are those that are written by the creator of the show?
Michael: Ooh, that’s so sticky! That’s not really fair! [laughs]
Kat: Yeah, TV is a totally different universe because there are always teams of writers on television. That’s not always the case in theater.
Alison: I’m still saying, why should this be that much different? I know it’s different, but why shouldn’t it be that much different? A creator of a show is going to have an idea of what should be happening [and] what should be going on. “This is who these characters are,” and if there is a team of writers, then they talk, right? They all get on board the same thing. So if the three of them got together, talked, [and] got on board, I’m sure they deferred to Jo more than anything else. I’m sure if someone brought up an idea and she was like, “No, that doesn’t fit,” then they threw it out immediately. I don’t think…
Michael: But that also comes along with the issue of what you just said, Alison, when you brought up the example of Supernatural. And I was just thinking of the one that crushed my heart, Heroes, where those things happen, but that doesn’t mean they turn out well or to anybody’s satisfaction. Or sometimes the vision doesn’t even stay on line. In the case of Heroes, the writers’ strike occurred and everybody who was originally with the production bailed out, and they brought in all these newbies and the show completely fell apart, and the people who were the root of that idea left. So even if that’s the case, that doesn’t really necessarily guarantee canonicity in that way because the original vision may change. And I think Rowling, in this particular case… I definitely get the sense from almost all the quotes that Kat pulled that Rowling was involved in the storyboarding process, the creation, and the brainstorming, and then she left. And the only thing that she was there for after that was to be a reference if they wanted to ask her a technical question. And I think the thing to keep in mind is that Rowling’s view on that from when she started Harry Potter to now has changed drastically because of her involvement in the films and how close of a relationship she developed with Steve Kloves, and how her view on the films became very lenient after a time. I think she was really stringent and strict on a lot of things at the beginning, and she let up after a while because she relented to the fact that she wasn’t in complete ownership of this medium. She had to give up a few things. She had to let things change. And she even explained that on her old website where she was just like, “Yeah, Lacarnum Inflamari is a way too long spell and that would never happen in my world, but in the movies it sounds better.”
Ana: Yeah, but I would say that that’s a bit different because she’s not really calling the movies canon in any way. She’s giving Steve Kloves some permission to change some stuff that would look better on the screen than they look in the book, obviously, but she’s not really changing anything about her characters or her world.
Kat: Ooh, I beg to differ with that!
Michael: I guess the thing that is similar to the movies, while we have this issue of [whether] she considers Cursed Child canon versus not the movies… And I definitely would not consider the movies canon; they’re their own thing, which, of course, gets complicated with Fantastic Beasts, and that’s a whole other discussion of canon. But the thing that’s similar in both instances is she is handing the story over to somebody and putting it in another medium, and I think that’s the part that’s affecting it. Because either way, whether she considers it canon or not, she has relented that there are sacrifices that have to be made with her style of storytelling to bring that story into a different medium. I guess [that’s] what I was getting at and why, Alison, I think that what you brought up was interesting with the idea about television. Because also, if Harry Potter [were] done as a television show – as much as people really want that – that would also necessitate changes. So I think there are definitely two sides to that argument as well, with how much she’s involved with the change to a medium.
Alison: Yeah, I think that brings up an interesting point too. I know on some of the episodes we did before – especially, I think, the production episode – we talked about [how] there are some lines that just feel like they were made for a theater audience.
Michael: [laughs] Yes!
Alison: So I guess I can see those additions having to be made for that purpose.
Kat: Right. There are certain things that have to happen in order to make it work as a stage production, and that is catering to a specific audience of people who will see that show. For instance, the fact that they’re off sugar… I remember talking to Claire, who for those who don’t know is our marketing manager over in the UK, and she said the theater burst out laughing at that line, and she saw it with a bunch of rich socialites. So things like that, I’ve always seen as catering to an audience specifically for the production aspect of things.
Michael: Oh yeah, definitely. And that’s another issue that comes up absolutely in this medium, dare I say even more so than the movies. Because the thing about a play versus a movie [is] you can’t get the play everywhere right away; it’s in a limited area. You’ve also eliminated a certain amount of people who can see it because [of] the sheer costs of the play. If you’re outside of the country, getting to go to the play becomes an issue. So the play naturally will have to cater to a certain audience that probably only knows Harry Potter casually, only knows Harry Potter from the films, or doesn’t know Harry Potter very much at all and is actually going for the theatrical aspect, which happens. And in that sense, like you guys are saying, you have to come up with something in there that’s going to appeal to what Harry Potter fans would probably refer to as the layman in our world, somebody who just doesn’t know the intricacies of the world [because] they’re going to be too complicated to explain. So that definitely comes up.
Alison: I think we see some of that in the books, though, too. The thing that popped into my head was the fact that she put in Goblet of Fire how to pronounce Hermione’s name. Because that’s a downfall of the medium, right? You don’t necessarily have someone telling you how some of these things should sound. So I think you have to do that with all mediums. There has to be a little bit of tweaking. But I think to me, at least, that doesn’t discount the story itself from being canon. Does that make sense?
Michael: Yeah, it does. I think that’s actually dependent on how individually nit-picky each of us want to get and what egregious things we take from it, how we react. It’s funny because Ana just said it so perfectly at the beginning: How do you not be biased about it? But how can we not be in this particular situation? [That] is the part that’s really hard.
Michael: Ana, you were about to say something too.
Ana: No, I was just going to say that even if we think about the books… She’s been working with her editor, right? And we know that her editor asked her to remove some things or maybe add some things, and I think that that’s not… She has somebody else’s input in the books as well, and maybe if she’d worked with another editor, we would have had some different books. Maybe we would have had that Weasley cousin or the woman that adopted Sirius as a dog and all that. [laughs] So I think that this is like, the author just works alone and it’s just their vision. That’s not really always that accurate, I think.
Michael: No, that’s absolutely true.
Alison: That’s how you start, but you always get feedback from other people. If you really want to make it something good, you always get some sort of reaction from someone else to find out [and] make sure you’re hitting what you want to be doing.
Michael: But I’d say for me, personally – in what we’re discussing at this moment with the authoring of the play – there is a distinct difference from Rowling working with her editor to tweak things here and there [where] her editor says, “This isn’t working for your story,” or Rowling identifying parts of her story that are like, “I’m hitting a roadblock. How do I fix this?” versus Rowling being there for a brainstorm and then completely going away.
Ana: Definitely. Of course.
Alison: I just don’t think she completely went away. I just don’t think she’s that kind of person.
Kat: Well, hold that thought.
Michael: Yeah, there’s nothing really in her quotes that’s indicating to me that she stuck around a lot.
Ana: Well, she’s very possessive about her work in those quotes.
Ana: She’s very, like, “Well, this is just my world, you know? I’m not going to just let it go.” So I think that she was definitely 100% in agreement with everything that’s in Cursed Child, and I think that’s a bit funny because so many fans just blame Jack Thorne and John Tiffany for all the mistakes and the plot holes and all that, but actually, J.K. Rowling approved. She has put her stamp of approval on everything, so why not blame her as well if we think it’s poor quality or contradicting or bad characterization or anything like that? Because she was definitely involved. Without her permission, nothing would have happened. Nothing that’s in there would have been in there.
Kat: Actually, it’s funny that this is where we’re at now because I have one final quote here, and it actually comes from Pottermore, so you know that 100% this has been approved by the Wizarding World giant umbrella of things.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: I don’t know who wrote it; I believe it was the correspondent, and this is part of a much bigger article. I’m just going to read three little paragraphs from the article. They’re out of context; if you want to read the whole thing, again, the link is in the description for the show. Head over there. It says, “Jack went away and came back with the first 40 pages. The big thing had happened. He had written dialogue for Jo’s characters and they sounded like themselves. He’d brought them back. I can’t tell you what it was like to see that.” It goes on, “The Jack to which J.K. Rowling had entrusted Harry is writer Jack Thorne, who as well as being a world-class wordsmith, is a huge Potter fan.” Last paragraph: “The three of them set the plot that day in J.K. Rowling’s writing room. They strung together the narrative then and there in notebooks, and then Jack and John flew back to London to get started.” So the first line… And again, remember whose point of view is writing this. It’s the Pottermore correspondent. They are being paid to be positive about the script, so remember that when you’re reading that article. Regardless of what you think about it, it’s important to remember the point of view you’re reading from. The first part here: “Jack went away and came back with the first 40 pages…” How long is Cursed Child? A couple hundred pages?
Alison: Well, 40 pages in a book… 40 pages as a manuscript would be different.
Kat: That’s probably the entire first act. Yeah, it probably is.
Alison: It could depend.
Kat: So he had no help in that.
Michael: 40 pages printed is about half of Act I, Part I.
Alison: But I bet you anything she sat down with a fine-toothed comb, went through everything, [and] said, “Yes… No… Try this differently.”
Kat: But she’s never said that she did that.
Alison: But she had to have.
Kat: You don’t know that.
Michael: Yeah, she didn’t have to.
Kat: She didn’t have to.
Alison: Like we were talking about, she’s so possessive of it. I am so sure.
Ana: Yeah, it wouldn’t be in-character for any author, I think, to just be like, “Okay, we’ll just leave the story completely up to someone else.” I don’t think that’s really…
Alison: Not when they’re keeping her this involved.
Ana: Yeah, I think this is her baby…
Michael: I don’t think there’s been anything in the press to indicate that it was. I think the other thing, too, to remember is that… As I mentioned before, look on the back of all your new Potter stuff and look at that little stamp: “J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World.” This has become a corporation. This has become something that has a brand that you can put a little stamp on. While Rowling is definitely, I think, more in control than any other author ever was of their property, she is not in the same amount of control that she was in when she started this. And I know that her negotiations with Warner Bros. were watershed negotiations because she really did get more out of her deal with them than any other author did, but she did have to make sacrifices. And I think the more that this has become corporatized, the more she has lost little bits here and there where she can only say no so much before they go, “Okay. Well, we heard you say no, but we’re still going to do it.”
Kat: I.e., Fantastic Beasts, which is a really good example in this case. So Jo said at the press conference in November that Warner Bros. – don’t forget, as Michael said, [a] corporation – [that she] signed away a lot of the rights to a lot of her characters. And not total rights, however… What’s it called? [drums fingers] What’s the word I’m looking for, Michael? When she will…? Either way, they are allowed to use her characters pretty much in any way that they want. So Jo said in November at a press conference that Warner Bros. said, “Hey, we want to make a story about Newt Scamander. We’re thinking about some movies with Newt.” And Jo said, “Oh, wait a minute. If you’re going to do this, I want to do it. I’m going to do it. I’m going to write the screenplays. It’s going to be me.”
Michael: And she did have a gun held to her head because Warner Bros. said, “If you don’t do it, we’ll do it.”
Kat: “We’re doing it no matter what, with or without you.” And so I feel like she ended up writing it, which is fantastic because we all love Fantastic Beasts. She wrote it. It doesn’t break any of my rules; it’s canon. However, the whole “Newt expelled” thing is another story, but that’s another episode. So for me, the fact that they came to her and were like, “We’re going to write this play,” and then she hired writers to do it?
Alison: That’s not what it said, though.
Kat: To me, it backs up that fact that she had nothing… She didn’t write it.
Alison: That’s not what it said, though. It didn’t say they came and said, “We’re going to write this play.” It says, “Sonia came and said, ‘We’d like to do a play,'” not “We’re going to it with or without you.” It was “What do you think of this?” [That] is what I’m getting from that quote. It’s “What do you think of this?” and Jo said, “That sounds like a cool idea. Let’s talk about what we can do.” And as for her not taking so much credit for herself, I feel like that’s a very Jo thing to do. I feel like she did that with Steve Kloves a lot, too, where she is very good at graciously using her own spotlight to spotlight these other people that get involved where everyone says, “You’re the creator. Here’s this, this, and this.” But when these other people are involved, she makes sure they are still seen by her side. But I think in this case, it may have almost gone too far where now people are almost getting the wrong idea. But I still feel like she’s so, so involved. I see her fingerprints throughout this entire script.
Ana: Yeah, and also to add to that… I take your points, Michael and Kat, definitely, but I also think it’s that somebody put a gun to her head and told her to call it canon because I think that that’s a different issue. It’s one thing to license something and be like, “Okay. Well, it’s okay to make a play based on my books and make up a story or something like that, but I’m not going to call it canon or anything. It’s just going to be your story and that will be fine.” It would be just like a play or a fan fic or something like that.
Alison: A Very Potter Musical.
Ana: Yeah, exactly. That’s not part of her official [canon], but she’s not suing Jack Thorne or anything. She’s just saying, “Okay, you can do what you want, but I’m not going to take that into consideration in the future when I try to make up stories about my characters or when I write Pottermore biographies or something like that.” But by saying it’s canon, I think she’s limiting herself. She can no longer make up things about her characters that go against what’s in Cursed Child, and I think that’s the problem. She can no longer say Albus Severus was a Hufflepuff, or something like that, without losing some credibility. And to me, that’s an important issue. And that’s why I think it’s canon, because I think it limits the possible scenarios for these characters in the future because by calling it canon, she’s saying, “This is my version of what happened to these characters and you’re not going to get any other version. So you can take it or leave it, but it’s not going to be any other story.”
Alison: That’s a great point.
Kat: Yeah, I don’t disagree with that at all.
Michael: I think that was something that was a little bit of a crushing thing for the fandom with this. Because up until that point, we’ve been getting some very enjoyable updates from Rowling about what’s going on in the Potter universe via Twitter and via Pottermore. I think, probably, one of the major highlights was the Quidditch World Cup that we had a few years ago, when we caught up with Harry and his family for the first time. And knowing that she’s basically mapped this out now, thanks to Cursed Child, until… what is it? 20…?
Michael: 2022. So she can’t really do much within that now because there’s a fixed end point from pretty much this September 1 until 2022.
Alison: But that’s okay because [by] 2022, Fantastic Beasts will be over.
Alison: She can get back to thinking about that.
Michael: Perfect timing.
Kat: I guess to wrap up this part of it here – because we’ve talked about the ownership for a little while – Alison, again, I don’t want this to sound like I’m attacking you because you know how much I love you and respect your opinion.
Kat: So you’re saying that you feel like she has to be involved in this, but every quote that I’m reading leads me to believe she hasn’t. And there has been no shortage of opportunities for her to say, “Oh yeah, I wrote that. I helped write that. I sat down and I said, ‘No, Cedric shouldn’t do this; he should do that,'” or “‘Albus shouldn’t do this; he should do that.'” She’s had ample opportunity to own up to that, and she has been asked time and time and time again, and she’s never said that.
Alison: Okay. I’m going to take that reasoning behind this: I don’t claim to know her mind. But if I [were] in that situation, I would think I wouldn’t want to nitpick out what I wrote and what I didn’t because then that takes it away from being a cohesive thing. And then you’re going to get people that say, “Only the lines Jo wrote are canon; everything else, throw it out.”
Kat: Well, yes, obviously…
Alison: Instead of saying this whole thing as a whole is or isn’t. And it seems pretty obvious she was there. She helped get at least the plotting and everything that was happening in place; that seems pretty obvious. And I still get the feeling from the quotes that she was very involved, but she’s just not the type to talk about how involved she was.
Kat: I definitely agree. Obviously, I don’t want her to sit down and be like, “I wrote this line and this line and this line and this line…” However, as we talked about before – the editing process and how things change – we don’t know what Jo and Jack and John storyboarded on that first day. The story we ended up with could be a 180 from that story.
Ana: Yeah, but that’s the same with the books, right? Her first draft of Deathly Hallows might not be the same as the story we got, so I don’t feel like that’s…
Kat: Right. However, remember when we first heard about Cursed Child and the story was that it’s going to be about Harry Potter and his time at the Dursleys’?
Alison: Did we know that for sure? I thought that was just rumor.
Kat: We did. It was released information from J.K. Rowling. It was an official press release.
Alison: Was it?
Ana: But the point is, does it matter? Because it’s all very speculative. We sit here and just guess about maybe they changed the story, or maybe she didn’t have that much input or she had a lot of input. We do have the final product, so I think that that’s what we should be looking at.
Michael: No, I think Ana’s got a point that after a while, this debate, until we have more definitive information, which… I think a lot of the information we’re seeking in this discussion is not going to come to light anytime soon. And I think there’s a reason, like you said, Kat, why Rowling has been kind of non-responsive about this. The only other example that I can think of – and it doesn’t perfectly line up because, again, it’s an adaptation from book to film, but it’s notable in how it was carried out – is Philip Pullman and The Golden Compass adaptation. Pullman infamously very much talked up the adaptation and he was super cool with it. Every time they announced a change, he was like, “That’s fine. I understand there [are] changes that need to be made.” When that movie came out and bombed at the box office, he suddenly did a complete 180 and was like, “Yeah, they made me say that stuff. I had to say things for appearances. I was under a contract. There were certain things I had to express to make sure that people went to see the movie. And now that that’s happened and enough people didn’t see it and we’re not going to go forward with this, I don’t have anything favorable to say about it.” He even said at one point that he felt… because there’s a major character whose hair is black in the book, and they changed it to blonde because she was played by Nicole Kidman. He was like, “You know what? They were right. She should have been blonde.” He actually said that during production, and then afterward he just changed tack. The only other comparison I can make is the guys who were behind Avatar: The Last Airbender and that whole debacle when M. Night Shyamalan adapted it. The whole time, they were fine with it – they had to be, publicly – but as time has gone on and that movie has been decried as one of the worst movies of all time, they have not-so-subtly expressed their distaste in what happened. So I think the thing that’s hard for us to see on our end is that there are legality issues on the other side. Rowling, while she is definitely very expressive and has a lot of control – more so than a lot of other creators when it comes to partnerships – I’m sure there [are] things that we don’t know about that are going on behind the scenes that affect what she can and can’t say.
Kat: Amen, brother.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Michael: I don’t know. Call her. Somebody call her.
Alison: Okay, yeah. [imitates a phone dialing]
Michael: Rowling, your next interview, if you’re being held captive, blink once.
Michael: That’s all we need from you.
Kat: So our Twitter poll is almost up. We’ve got nine minutes left here. But I figured… if you guys saw, I put out a question earlier on Twitter because I wanted to see if anybody out there had opinions that we should address. And we got this great question from – I believe you pronounce the name “Keaton” – he’s @Thespian21. His question is, “Has the fandom ever resisted JKR so much as they do with #CursedChild’s role in canon, and why has this hit such a nerve?”
Kat: I feel like we’ve talked about that a little bit, but I wanted to give him an answer. So what do you guys think?
Alison: Fan entitlement that comes with the Internet.
Kat: Elaborate, please. [laughs]
Alison: Yes, I’m getting there. I have seen this so much, especially lately, because it’s so easy for fans to interact with creators, to interact with each other, [and] to interact with source material on the Internet. Fans have become extremely entitled, and if it doesn’t match up to what the fans want – which isn’t necessarily always what the creator has in mind [or] what the creator is thinking – it’s almost like you’ve taken what we call in literary theory “The author is dead.” And they’ve taken it so far that once it’s out into the world, there are fans out there that think, “The author is dead.” Anything the author does from this point that contradicts what the fan wants is completely wrong. And because it’s so easy to go after them on the Internet about it, and because Internet culture very much focuses on “Attack, attack, attack,” very strong, it’s become a serious problem. So especially in the case of Harry Potter, it’s such a large fandom. It incorporates a lot of people in a lot of different places at a lot of different stages of fandom, and it had been ten years of people imagining what happened after the epilogue. Some people came up with the right stuff. And then you get, of course, the problem of people saying, “Well, they just took it from fan fic.” Some people came up with other things that a lot of people really enjoyed, but when it got contradicted, people got angry. People had this in their mind for 10+ years and it became this huge problem. Because we knew there could have been a generation after Harry and we knew that from the epilogue, I think that’s partly why we got so much backlash for Cursed Child and not a lot for Fantastic Beasts. I don’t think anyone thought about Fantastic Beasts or Newt Scamander as a character until it was announced they were making this movie…
Ana: And also, to add to that… Sorry, Alison, go on.
Alison: No, no, you’re fine.
Ana: Okay. Yeah, I was just going to say that I think there was some resistance even before Cursed Child because I remember the canon debates go way, way back to basically after Deathly Hallows. And she was going on book tours and giving interviews and telling us things about the characters, like “Dumbledore is gay” and “This person was killed by this person” and so on. And there were a lot of people, I remember, online that wanted her to basically shut up or write another book. So that wasn’t okay with the fans. And then I also remember… I think MuggleNet published an article saying that J.K. Rowling should stop releasing new information on Pottermore or on Twitter or giving interviews about the characters. So I think it’s always controversial to add something to something that people already think is so perfect. And then they have their own headcanons, like you say, Alison. They don’t want to give that up, especially not for something that’s been written partly by someone else. And that’s the problem with Cursed Child, of course.
Alison: And I think there’s nothing wrong with having headcanons. There’s nothing wrong with trying to fill in information or thinking about these things you care about. But I think it’s when people start rejecting too much [from] the actual creator of something; then, at least personally for me, that’s going too far in a lot of ways.
Michael: So this is really interesting, the point you brought up, Alison, because I actually feel like fan entitlement – and this was an extreme case of it – is more petty and usually comes, at least the way I view it, more from the idea of things like – and this is an extreme example – the fans who were like, “Hermione can’t be black.” And it’s like, “No, that’s wrong.” But there was a sense of entitlement there to the point that people were looking through the books to find examples – the one example – where Hermione is defined as white. To me, that’s entitlement. That’s a way of saying, “I know better than you, J.K. Rowling.”
Alison: Which is what I see a lot of these people doing, though. Sorry, not to…
Michael: Well, I guess what I don’t agree with is that I’ve been seeing such astonishingly thoughtful and critically constructive arguments against Cursed Child. What was really impressive to me, actually, after Cursed Child came out was that a lot of the arguments against it were, to me, on the level of what we do here on Alohomora! I was seeing it with our listeners; I was seeing it beyond that with all these articles that had been written that were thoroughly researched and very well-thought-out, and people were saying, “This isn’t just about the little nit-picky things. This is about larger ideas within Cursed Child; this is about originality versus unoriginality in Cursed Child; and this is in relation to rehashing or retelling.” The arguments that were put up against Cursed Child by a majority of the fandom were very well-thought-out and very articulate and went to a deeper level than just, “I didn’t like it because [of] this, this, and this.” Deeper than the level that, in the fandom, arguments about the films tend to go, which are more surface-level arguments. It definitely feels to me that these arguments go to “These characters are doing something different that doesn’t really fit with how Rowling told me these characters were behaving. Not how I necessarily interpreted them, but how you told me they were behaving and what lessons they learned.”
Ana: But I think that’s always going to be subjective. Some people think Harry is being out of character, whereas other people think, “No, actually, that’s his character.” So I think there’s not going to be any sort of consensus, but I think some contradictions in Cursed Child can be objective if there are plot holes or anything like that. I think that’s something that can be objective. But then the question is: What happens if Fantastic Beasts turned out to be full of contradictions or messing up the chronology of Dumbledore’s story or something like that? Would we say it’s not canon then, even if J.K. Rowling was the sole author of Fantastic Beasts? I mean, this is going back to, I think, Kat’s definition of canon and the three criteria. What happens if Fantastic Beasts turns out to be very bad and contradicting? I don’t think that’s going to be the case, but I’m saying that it’s definitely possible that it will mess up some things. I mean, it’s already a problem with Newt having been expelled and then he wasn’t.
Michael: Oh yeah. Absolutely.
Kat: There’s a whole other hurdle there, the fact that Fantastic Beasts is a film and how much does that relate to a novel? There’s already that extra level of “WTF? How do these relate to each other?”
Kat: But yeah, I agree with both Alison and Michael, actually. [laughs] Because I do think that a lot of the reasons people had such difficulty accepting Cursed Child not even as canon, [but] just accepting it as a story written in the Harry Potter universe that is “sanctioned” – “written” by Jo, however you look at that – part of that is definitely entitlement and part of it is they want their own headcanons and they’re entitled to them. You can reject this and pretend it never exists. Burn your book, don’t buy it, don’t see it, completely forget about it… you’re totally entitled to do that. However, it’s difficult. For me, why has it hit such a nerve, as Keaton asked? I can pretty much ignore Cursed Child. I am not one of those people… I didn’t really read fan fiction; I don’t have a headcanon. I pretty much accept what J.K. Rowling gives me as valid for her world. And for me – and again, I know it keeps coming back to this for me – J.K. Rowling didn’t give this to me. That’s why it doesn’t feel real or valid to me. Maybe “valid” is not the right word because there’s obviously a place for it out there in the world, but I guess, for me, that’s why it hit a bit of a nerve. It’s a story about characters that I love written by somebody who doesn’t know those characters, and I guess that’s where it hit a bit of a nerve for me. Totally jumping back half an hour – actually, an hour – our poll is done on Twitter, and I want to give you guys the results. So I gave four options. We had 444 votes, which I feel isn’t too bad in an hour. That’s pretty good. So 23% of 444 said that they loved the script and that it is canon; 21% said that they loved the script but it is not canon; 15% say that they dislike the script but it is canon; and 41%, not surprisingly, said they dislike the script and it is not canon.
Michael: [laughs] Goodness.
Kat: So that is obviously the largest group, but 36% – one third of the people – were in that middle group who love it and say it’s not canon or dislike it and say that it is. So I feel like that’s a fairly even spread. You knew that the “dislike/not-canon” group was going to be a bit bigger just because it is so controversial, but it was pretty even otherwise.
Michael: I think the thing that also makes this a bit of a special case is what Alison mentioned before, that there were 10 years in between where everybody got to form their opinions about what happened, and before that we had years and years of fan fiction. And the common complaint within the fandom that’s come against Cursed Child is that it feels like fan fiction, and as somebody who was steeped in fan fiction – and I have the podcasts to prove it – [laughs] I would say yes, it hits every fan fiction trope. And I think that was what was frustrating for a lot of Harry Potter fans, and a lot of people have said, “Well, what could she or any of these writers have possibly done to make this not fan fiction after ten years of speculation and more than ten years of fan fiction that had come out by other people?” But to me, that’s a discredit to fan fiction because there’s a lot of good fan fiction out there that did incredibly original things. And there’s better fan fiction than this play! [laughs] In my personal opinion, I’ve read better fan fiction than this.
Ana: Yeah, but I think some people think that there’s better fan fiction than Deathly Hallows, actually. I’ve seen that opinion as well.
Michael: Oh, yeah! And that was a worthwhile thing to bring up because when Keaton asked, “Why has this hit such a nerve, and has the fandom ever resisted Rowling harder?” the only time that I can think that they have is specifically with the epilogue in Hallows… not Hallows as a whole. The epilogue really had a lot of strong opinions around it, and I think that would naturally happen with the end of any story. But yeah, I think that that added element of so much speculation, years of fan fiction, [and] years of tropes that were built within the Harry Potter fandom wrapped themselves into a nice little bundle with Cursed Child. And the other thing, too, that Alison had mentioned earlier about how Rowling doesn’t cater to the fandom’s wants and that fandom entitlement: There is a lot of fan service in Cursed Child.
Alison: Okay, I’ll give you that. There’s a little bit.
Kat: It’s something, Michael. Small wins. I love you for that.
Michael: No, I don’t consider this a win or lose.
Kat: I know.
Michael: But an issue that was brought up a lot was, “Snape comes back so we can have him completely apologize… Scorpius is a Wubbie… Albus and Scorpius were besties and they’re both in Slytherin.” These are things that were developed by the fandom as they wanted that, and they got it a lot in full the way that it ended up being written. Yeah, I think the only way I could answer Keaton’s question is [that] it’s a unique case in that respect.
Ana: Yeah, and I think it’s also a unique case because it’s written together with somebody else, or by somebody else or however you want to put it, and we’re not really used to that in the Potterverse.
Michael: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.
Ana: And I think that’s actually not that unusual because other writers have also collaborated with other writers. So for example… I don’t know if you know this, but Neil Gaiman wrote a book with Terry Pratchett. And George R.R. Martin has also collaborated with some of his more hardcore fans, I think, to write some history of A Song of Ice and Fire. So it’s not really that unusual, but it’s unusual to us, I think.
Alison: It’s like Tolkien’s son taking his notes and writing the stuff he did after.
Kat: Tolkien was dead. That’s the difference.
Alison: Well, yes.
Ana: But the author is…
Alison: But it was his notes; it was his ideas. So it would almost be like… The only other thing I can think of that would create such waves as this does would be like if someone found C.S. Lewis’s notes and wrote what happened to Susan after The Last Battle, like the definitive version. [laughs]
Kat: Or what about that Watchmen book [by Harper Lee]? The name is escaping me now.
Alison: Oh, Go Set a Watchman?
Alison: Such a good book.
Michael: Oh, that is so complicated in its own right because she was alive when she approved it, but she had no idea what she was doing. [laughs] So that’s so hard. Yeah, I think the other thing that we’re getting down to by listing all of these multiple examples is that there’s not really a comparable example that we have in a fandom this large. I think people tend to go to Star Wars, but even that’s not really comparable.
Ana: But what do you think about Game of Thrones, for example? The books are written by George [R.R.] Martin – by himself, of course – but if you think about the TV show, he’s been collaborating with some other people. And the TV show is way ahead of the books or has different versions of events from the books. For example, it can be pretty big differences between the books and the TV show, so I think that that would be comparable. He’s allowing somebody else into his creation.
Kat: True. However, that’s an adaptation, and so that is coming from source material. So I feel like, for me, that’s different because right now Cursed Child is “the source material.” It’s not an adaptation of other material.
Ana: Yeah, I agree with that. But the TV show is just so ahead of the books, and I think that that’s why it’s a bit of its own being, so to speak. So it’s different from Harry Potter where we have the books and then we have the movies’ adaptations. But in Game of Thrones, the show is ahead of the novels, and the novels will probably say the same thing that we saw in the show, but we don’t really know.
Alison: Well, you could almost say that there’s a similar issue in Harry Potter with the books versus the [movies], where Jo is so good at setting up things crazy early, and they took some of those things out of the movies because they didn’t know they would need them…
Kat: Right. Kreacher, for example.
Alison: Yeah, even if sometimes I feel like I’ve heard of something where Jo was like, “Mm… you might want to keep that in.”
Kat: That was Kreacher.
Alison: Or like, “Mm… we’re not going to keep it in.” Oh, okay. So there [are] things like that where even… That’s another tricky example of… Okay, I forgot where I was going with that point. [laughs] I’m sorry.
Kat: It’s okay. Let’s switch gears a little bit because we haven’t actually touched on the text at all within Cursed Child. And again, guys, remember that this is opinion and we aren’t analyzing the actual material. We aren’t saying if we like it [or] if we dislike it. This isn’t about the likability factor of Cursed Child, so please keep that in mind. And before we jump into that, I again wanted to bring up this thing on Twitter because our Twitter was blowing up today and people were all over it. And for everybody who was arguing with me on Twitter, hello, that was me you were talking to, for the record. And so this tweet came from… I believe you say it “Katie Hailey” maybe? @KatyHaile. And she puts forth a very interesting theory, which if this were to come out as true, I would feel more okay with it. I’m just saying. So her theory is – and this is not verbatim – that Theodore Nott created an alternative timeline when he tested the Time-Turner. Ergo, the characters in Cursed Child are not the ones we know from the novels, hence the dialogue changes and the odd actions.
[Michael and Alison laugh]
Kat: And I think that that’s pretty brilliant, quite honestly.
Michael: Well, here we go. Another example of a need to fill a gap to explain it away. It’s amazing how far the fans of Harry Potter are going to canonize making this not canon.
[Alison, Ana, and Michael laugh]
Kat: Yes, right. And I don’t know how Katy feels about it. I didn’t see her opinion of that on Twitter or not. But I thought that that theory was so wonderful that I had to bring it up on the show.
Alison: I think it’s funny, [but] I don’t see it.
Ana: Yeah, it’s very interesting, but I don’t see it actually working out because most people who watch Cursed Child or read Cursed Child aren’t going to be part of the online fandom, so they probably don’t even know who Theodore Nott is, maybe. So it’s a completely different level of information, I would say. Some people have tried to make connections between Cursed Child and Ilvermorny or something like that…
Ana: … and that’s not going to mean anything to casual readers or viewers. And that’s the problem when you’re in the fandom. You tend to be in a bubble where you think everybody is just as informed, but they’re actually not, unfortunately.
Michael: Yeah. Actually, I can answer your question, Kat, about Katy. She tweeted at me, “I can’t even pick out tiny details. They rewrote the epilogue. The end.” So no, she doesn’t like it.
[Michael and Kat laugh]
Kat: Okay, good to know.
Michael: But yeah, that goes in the bank, for me, of fun theories.
Kat: Yeah, I like that one a lot. I like it a lot.
Michael: It’s funny because it does basically say, “You know that minor line at the beginning? Yeah, that negates this whole thing.” [laughs]
Michael: Which is pretty funny. But speaking of rewriting “19 Years Later,” do we want to look at that a little bit? Because that is, as I mentioned before, something that really gets to me. And listeners, I did try and read through as much of Cursed Child as I could today. I should clarify, I didn’t stop because I didn’t like it; I stopped because I was at work and I could only read through Act I, Part I. But I did immediately think it would be interesting to see how many things and what things were changed between the “19 Years Later” epilogue in Deathly Hallows versus Cursed Child and reflect on why they matter. And I listed about 14 to 12 changes… There [are] probably around 20, I’d estimate, because there were a few I didn’t write down because they were so minor. Most of them are things like lines being switched around from Ginny to Harry. There’s one instance where a line switches completely from who’s talking, from Ginny and James to Hermione and Rose, interestingly. Just little things like that here and there. Sometimes a little bit about the order of when the lines were said. Probably the biggest thing that’s changed as far as minor details is Ron and Lily’s dialogue about stealing her nose. Completely new. Pretty much, I assume, there to give Ron something to do with the plot.
Michael: But the major changes occur. One of them is actually from Deathly Hallows on page 755. Ron jokingly says, “If you’re not in Gryffindor, we’ll disinherit you… but no pressure.” And Hermione goes, “Ron!” And the [script] narration notes, “Lily and Hugo laughed, but Albus and Rose looked solemn.” It was interesting to me because that little line, to me, indicates that Rose actually shares the same concerns as Albus about her place in Hogwarts. And while she definitely speaks of having grandiose amounts of confidence in Cursed Child, she doesn’t really have anything to say about it until she gets on the train – and in Deathly Hallows she doesn’t say anything at all – not until, actually, page 49. And page 49 is way farther off and after they’ve been at Hogwarts for a while. Another major thing: The Malfoys, Fleur, and Teddy are all cut from [Scenes 1-2] in Cursed Child. Fascinatingly, I thought it was weird that they cut the Malfoys because they’re so involved with the story. And the things they say about the Malfoys in Deathly Hallows are perfectly in line with what happens in Cursed Child. Did anybody have any thoughts about why they might have done that?
Alison: I’ll admit this bothered me in the theater. It bothers me, but I think it’s part of a bigger problem. It’s part of the problem of rush[ing] too much through these first three years to get you to their fourth year because that’s when things happen. Seeing it in the theater, and even reading it, it is so fast. This all just goes, goes, goes, goes, goes. So it doesn’t give you time to slow down [and] reflect on some of these things. Quite honestly, one thing I wish they would change is I wish they would take a little bit more time with this because it does bother me. But I don’t know. Maybe they wanted to introduce Scorpius as his own person, because that helps make it a little bit more plausible for the audience to have the plot point of “There’s this mystery of if he’s really Draco’s son.” It introduces you to Scorpius not as Draco’s son, not as Draco’s mini me – which I think we get in some ways in the epilogue – but as his own person.
Michael: That’s why I thought it would have been interesting to keep it. Because Albus would have more…
Alison: No, I agree.
Michael: I suppose Albus would have been more outrightly defying his father by befriending Scorpius, which… granted, that’s not the reason he does it. But Albus seems to be frequently motivated by defying his father in the play. And the only thing that’s said about Scorpius in Deathly Hallows is that Ron says… Ron seems to have a lot of lines in the epilogue in Deathly Hallows, considering how little he says in Cursed Child. He says, [in an English accent] “‘So that’s little Scorpius,’ said Ron under his breath. ‘Make sure you beat him in every test, Rosie. Thank God you inherited your mother’s brains.’ ‘Ron, for heaven’s sake,’ said Hermione, half stern, half amused. ‘Don’t try to turn them against each other before they’ve even started school!’ ‘You’re right, sorry,’ said Ron. But unable to help himself, he added, ‘Don’t get too friendly with him though, Rosie. Granddad Weasley would never forgive you if you married a pureblood.'”
Ana: I do like the accent.
Michael: Oh, thank you.
[Ana and Michael laugh]
Michael: But that was interesting to me just because I feel like there’s a dynamic already set up there that somewhat carries through the play already, so it seems almost like a needless elimination.
Alison: I think some of it could have been… Ron doesn’t show up much in this play.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Alison: So you don’t want to be calling so much attention to him in the first scene when other people are going to be more important.
Michael: No, that’s true. He even establishes in his version in Cursed Child that he’s just there to be Ron. He really doesn’t contribute much to the point that at the end of the play he literally says, [in an English accent] “I don’t know why I’m here!”
[Michael and Alison laugh]
Alison: And I love Ron in Cursed Child. I love him. I love Paul Thornley. I think he’s great.
Michael: Oh yeah.
Alison: And like I said, it’s one of those things where it’s [like], what are you carving to get this story out of the bigger timeline? I think Ron is one of those things that gets carved down a little bit.
Michael: Carved. What were you going to say, Ana?
Ana: No, I was just saying that The Cursed Child is not canon, or they create some issues because the epilogue is different in this version. Is that what we’re getting at?
Michael: That’s partly what I’m getting at. I’m going to dive into it a little more here, actually, with some other quotes because that’s an issue.
Michael: I’m always interested to hear, actually, how the people who embrace Cursed Child as canon view it. I think Alison touched on it a little bit, actually, when she said that the epilogue in a way in Deathly Hallows is from Harry’s perspective, which for me is a little challenging because Rowling’s narration is somewhere between third person omniscient [and] third person limited.
Alison: It gets more limited, I think, as they go on. I think in the first one, she was trying to hit third person omniscient.
Michael: Yeah, she’s way more omniscient in the first books.
Alison: But by Deathly Hallows, I feel like she had settled on, “This is third person limited.”
Michael: Which is hard because is Harry perceiving things differently than other people? Because that is the excuse you have to make for these alterations, I would assume.
Alison: I’m going to say yes. [laughs]
Michael: Because again, there [are] flat-out lines and individuals who are being changed here.
Alison: That’s the part that I have more [of a] problem with. Different perspectives on how things are said or how things are going, to me, I’m fine with because if the epilogue is from Harry’s point of view, everything’s sunshine-y and happy. He has his family. He’s sending his children off to Hogwarts. Everything’s great. The beginning of Cursed Child is Albus going into Hogwarts where he’s heard so much about it. This is new and scary. It’s Harry getting on the train again for the first time; he has very different feelings between those things.
Kat: But wait a minute. You can’t say that Harry is brilliant and wonderful and super happy in the epilogue of Deathly Hallows and still think that Cursed Child is canon.
Kat: Because Harry at the beginning of Cursed Child is a miserable hot mess.
Alison: Well, he can be both. [laughs]
Kat: They completely contradict each other in every way.
Alison: Not necessarily. Not necessarily.
Michael: Well, I think that… Okay, so let’s… Ugh.
Alison: He could be happy in the moment of the epilogue and have other emotions as he goes throughout his life. He’s a 3D person.
Ana: But I mean, do we know what he’s thinking? Because it’s just a play, so we only have the lines. How do we know if he’s happy or not?
Michael: Okay, let’s go into a bit more with these lines because I think they might get into that a little more. Before we get more into exploring Harry, there is one line that I thought was interesting. It’s a throwaway line, I think, generally, but when you consider it versus Cursed Child, it becomes a little more interesting. Because when they start talking about Teddy, who is eliminated from Cursed Child, James says, “‘Yeah,’ said James enthusiastically. ‘I don’t mind sharing with Al. Teddy could have my room.'” And Harry says, “‘No,’ said Harry firmly. ‘You and Al will share a room only when I want the household demolished.'” And it’s interesting because there seems to an implication there, and I think it is open for interpretation, but to me the implication is that Albus and James have a moderately close relationship and are maybe not Fred and George level close because James antagonizes Albus to some degree, but Harry seems to know that they are a destructive force of nature when paired up together.
Alison: Hmm, that may not necessarily be just because they’re buddy-buddy. [They] could be a destructive force of nature because they get after each other so much that it could turn catastrophic.
Michael: Possible. Definitely possible. Absolutely. I think, though, that it’s open to interpretation. For me, it causes a problem because James and Albus essentially have no relationship in Cursed Child. Albus really doesn’t have a relationship with his siblings at all other than staring at them from afar and being like, “Stupid siblings who are living up to my father’s expectations without doing anything on purpose.” But it’s definitely open to interpretation. There’s more added to that if you go through the Quidditch World Cup extras as well. But of course that’s hard, too, because that’s all told from the perspective of Rita, at least when it comes to Harry’s family because Ginny doesn’t comment on that.
Alison: And it’s another pitfall of how fast they go through this. You don’t see how those relationships could’ve changed in the three years that they go through in twenty minutes. And I got the feeling that a lot of things changed because Albus was feeling like a black sheep. He withdrew and nobody really recognized he was withdrawing, and so they let it be.
Michael: Yeah, I think that Rose is meant to be the representation of that in the play because the dialogue in the play in the book suggests that she’s very much a Hermione type and that she feels that she can command Albus or at least tell him what to do, and she seems surprised that he’s not listening to her. And then he cuts off contact with her. So I don’t know if that was meant to be a microcosm of what’s happening with his family as a whole. But like you said, Alison, it’s hard to say because the play doesn’t really convey that since it moves so fast to get them to fourth year that it ends up skipping a lot of that. But then you get into a few more major things with Harry. Another one that’s a throw away line in Hallows is that after James taunts Albus about the Thestrals, Harry says, “‘Thestrals are nothing to worry about,’ Harry told Albus. ‘They’re gentle things. There’s nothing scary about them. Anyway, you won’t be going up to the school in the carriages, you’ll be going in the boats.'” And we’ll touch on that line in a little bit, but I wanted to put that one out there because I think it’s actually a little important in comparison. And then the one that I’m actually going to go ahead and read both for is the discussion about Sorting. And in the book, it goes, “‘What if I’m in Slytherin?’ The whisper was for his father alone, and Harry knew that only the moment of departure could’ve forced Albus to reveal how great and sincere that fear was. Harry crouched down so that Albus’s face was slightly above his own. Alone of Harry’s three children, Albus had inherited Lily’s eyes. ‘Albus Severus,’ Harry said quietly so that nobody but Ginny could hear, and she was tactful enough to pretend to be waving to Rose who was now on the train. ‘You were named for two Headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin, and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.’ ‘But just say…’ ‘Then Slytherin House will have gained an excellent student, won’t it? It doesn’t matter to us, Al. But if it matters to you, you’ll be able to choose Gryffindor over Slytherin. The Sorting Hat takes your choice into account.’ ‘Really?’ ‘It did for me,’ said Harry. He had never told any of his children that before, and he saw the wonder in Albus’s face when he said it.” Okay, now compare that, keeping all of that in mind. Hold it. Hold it in your head. Hold it tight. And then we get Cursed Child‘s version, which goes, “‘Dad,’ Albus pulls on Harry’s robes. Harry looks down. ‘Do you think… What if I am… What if I’m put in Slytherin?’ ‘And what would be wrong with that?’ ‘Slytherin is the House of the snake, of Dark magic. It’s not a House of brave wizards.’ ‘Albus Severus, you were named after two Headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin, and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.’ ‘But just say…’ ‘If it matters to you, the Sorting Hat will take your feelings into account.’ ‘Really?’ ‘It did for me. Hogwarts will be the making of you, Albus. I promise you there is nothing to be frightened of there.'” And that’s how that goes in Cursed Child. Thoughts?
Kat: [sighs] It irritates me, and not only because the lines are changed, but because it sets up a different story. It sets up a different tone because both of the dialogues give you the idea that Albus wants nothing more than to be in Gryffindor. He wants to be like his parents. And whether or not he’s doing that for the right reasons matters very little because it’s what he wants and what he desires, but then he gets to Hogwarts, and can you remind me? We don’t see an inner dialogue on his Sorting, right? In Cursed Child?
Michael: No, he just gets Sorted.
Kat: Right, okay, so we don’t hear him actually say anything like, “Not Slytherin, not Slytherin, not Slytherin,” and I feel like that’s the thing that bothers me the most about it. He just accepts it. And you don’t get to hear that inner dialogue of why that’s so important, and a change like that feels like a big one because of that.
Ana: Yeah, but I think it’s hard in plays to just convey people’s thoughts. I think that’s a problem.
Alison: It’s a pitfall of the medium.
Kat: Well, of course it is.
Ana: Yeah, exactly. They just have lines. You cannot see what’s going on. I mean, it’s harder to see what’s going on inside their heads than it would be if Cursed Child were a novel.
Kat: I don’t disagree with that at all, but there’s also stage directions for things like that too.
Michael: I think that goes back, for me, to what Alison said: that the play goes too fast in this part. Because I think you could convey it successfully on a stage if you had more time. The way they try to do it, from what I gather, is they try to reflect Albus’s insecurities with himself in his classmates who feed them to him in rapid succession. But again, I think it is just hard for us to digest because it does go so fast, and we’re used to getting to know these Harry Potter characters over the span of one year, not four. So I think that’s a big part of it. There [are] just gaps here in that development of Albus’s self-loathing, almost, that he starts to have in his war between loathing himself and loathing his father. It’s there. It definitely comes up later down the road, but yeah, I feel there definitely is something lacking on that. And I agree with you, Kat. One of the most egregious things for me about the play is it purposefully changes those lines to get a different story.
Michael: Go ahead, Alison.
Alison: Yeah, I was going to say it does bother me. It still bothers me. But again, I think it’s one of those things because they sped through so fast. If they had gone slower, I think they could have stayed with the original epilogue as it was. They slowly could have built these changing thoughts, these changing ideas, these changing relationships, and then we could’ve gotten to the point that we get to when they start their fourth year. But because they don’t take the time with that, all of that gets cut, and so they’re trying to shoehorn it a little bit. It’s a medium thing. So it doesn’t necessarily impact the overall story for me, I guess, so I still take it as canon. But I feel like those ideas got shoehorned to fit it being a theater and having a theater audience, and if it [were] stretched out, we would have seen a more organic change to get to that point.
Kat: And also, I don’t know if we’ve ever touched on this, but why is it fourth year?
Alison: I don’t know.
Michael: I gather that is was purely because of the magical knowledge that they want Scorpius and Albus to have. They wanted them to be more equipped.
Kat: Sure, okay. That makes sense.
Alison: But also that they’re young enough that they can be slightly clueless about things.
Ana: It also sets up the parallel to Goblet of Fire, which was the fourth year in Harry’s life.
Michael: Yeah, there’s definitely supposed to be something about equating Albus and Harry’s age with the events.
Ana: But also, I think talking about all this, the relationship should have been explored more and stuff like that. I agree with that, and I also think that [for] other stuff in the play I would have liked more of an explanation for them. And maybe we will get to them, but some things like maybe Delphi’s background or stuff like that.
Alison: That’s my biggest one.
Ana: Yeah, I would have wanted something more than just, “Oh, I was born at Malfoy Manor. Blah, blah, blah,” something like that. So just more of an explanation of the backstory and how the other prophecy works and who heard it and all that, I think.
Alison: But again, it’s a pitfall of the medium. If we had gotten a book or several books, I think we would have gotten all these answers for this great story. This is where I see Jo. I see Jo’s complicated plotlines and ideas and themes and people changing and coming in, but things had to get cut or taken out or shafted a little bit to fit the medium.
Kat: And for me, it’s the opposite because I don’t see Jo in these plotlines because they’re not mysteries to me. I think they’re overcomplicated hot messes that have no intricate details in any way, shape, or form. It’s like a Scooby-Doo episode and comparing it to Agatha Christie.
Michael: See, I feel like that’s somewhat the case. It’s hard for me to say because the clues that are there to resolve the mystery for me, I gather, might work better on stage than they do in script form. Because I saw them right away.
Kat: A lot of things work better on stage than they do in the script. A lot of things.
Michael: Yeah, and I thought that would be the case with Cursed Child. Ana mentioned Delphi, and I think she becomes a big complication with how people feel about the play because of her parentage. And that brings up a major issue. This gets hard because the fandom has tried to explain away how Voldemort and Bellatrix conceived a child and how Bellatrix hid her pregnancy during Deathly Hallows because she was pregnant during Deathly Hallows during a time that we saw her.
Ana: Can I just say something? She wasn’t actually pregnant. I mean, it’s possible to make it so that she’s not pregnant when we actually see her or that she’s really early in her pregnancy and not every visible, I think. So I don’t think that creates a plot problem, for me, at least. Because it does work, I mean, mathematically, and if you follow the timeline in Deathly Hallows. I mean, I’ve seen those things online as well, and I don’t really agree with people who say that she was pregnant at Malfoy Manor because I think by Malfoy Manor she had already given birth, probably one month or two months ago, actually.
Alison: Or just that the people who’s point of view we’re seeing that part of the story from, it didn’t matter to them or they didn’t know. Okay, robes. I think the way Jo pictured them do not look the way they look in the movies.
Kat: Of course not.
Ana: Definitely not. No corsets.
Alison: And I think it could be very easy to hide.
Kat: And okay, I’ll give you a sliver here in the fact that [in] Deathly Hallows Harry Potter is a 17-year-old boy. That is the sliver, the tiniest sliver, that I will give you. But you know what, he would notice if she was carrying 40 pounds of extra weight and had a giant protruding belly.
Ana: Of course, but I think we see her in – I mean, if you follow the timeline – July. I mean, she’s at the meeting with Voldemort and then she’s flying in “The Seven Potters” where Harry doesn’t actually see her. And then we see her…
Alison: She’s not at “The Seven Potters,” is she?
Ana: Yeah, she is. And then we see her in “Malfoy Manor,” which is in the middle of March, so I think it’s possible if she was three months pregnant already in “The Seven Potters,” then nobody would actually see that. And then she would have already given birth by [the] “Malfoy Manor” chapter. So I don’t really see a problem with her pregnancy from that point of view.
Alison: That’s good. [laughs]
Ana: Thank you.
Michael: It’s hard because it’s not definitively said when she would have been pregnant and when she would have had Delphi.
Ana: No, it doesn’t say.
Kat: It’s ambiguous.
Michael: That’s problematic, I think, in that respect because the other thing is that the Malfoys are unaware of it. And that’s not likely.
Ana: I mean, I don’t know if they are unaware of it. I mean, Draco doesn’t identify Delphi as being the baby born at Malfoy Manor. So I think it is possible that he doesn’t know about her identity, but not necessarily that he doesn’t know that she exists at all. Because I think…
Alison: Or maybe they lied to him. Maybe they told him that the baby died or something.
Ana: I mean, definitely.
Alison: So he has no idea she’s still alive and around.
Ana: Of course.
Michael: See, and these are the things that can only be developed by suspicion on the fans’ part by theorizing as far as the play leaves it. And I think the play leaves it [as] a plot hole because it’s easy for the casual viewer to leave that as a plot hole.
Michael: We as Harry Potter fans question it, but the casual theater-goer is not going to ask it.
Ana: Yeah. I mean, I love Bellatrix, so I’m trying to figure out everything. [laughs]
Michael: Yeah, yeah. No, for sure.
Ana: About her pregnancy and the timeline and everything because… yeah.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely. People want to know, and of course then that contradicts some things we’ve known about Voldemort previously. [Rowling] did say on Twitter when somebody asked her if Voldemort had had sexual relations, she responded by saying, “Even the Dark Lord… doesn’t he deserve his privacy?”
Ana: Yeah, exactly.
Michael: So she was ambiguous about what was going on, as far as that goes. I think a lot of people were suspect that Voldemort could even sire a child because of the state of his being, which gets into a whole other debate in itself. Alison, I think you came up with a theory that a lot of the fandom wanted to accept, which was that she’s not actually their child.
Kat: I 1000, wholeheartedly, totally accept that. If I were ever to accept this atrocity as being canon, that is what I would accept. There’s no f-ing way Voldemort is the father of that girl. No way.
Alison: Yeah. I definitely think it wasn’t like, “Let’s make a baby. I love you, Bellatrix.” There was something else happening. I’ve discussed a couple [theories]. The one that it’s Rodolphus’s child and he lied to her, that somehow she was magically created, that she was some punishment or punishment disguised as a… What’s the word I’m looking for?
Alison: Reward. Thank you. Wow. Some punishment disguised as a reward for Bellatrix, that Bellatrix could have done something to try and tie herself closer to Voldemort. I think there are a lot of really plausible other ways.
Ana: But can I just say that I think, going by the theory that she’s actually Rodolphus’s daughter, that doesn’t make as much impact for me thematically. Because I think this is the story of the next generation, and it makes sense that Deplhi and Albus and – to some extent – Scorpius as well are dealing with their legacies. And to me, for her to be Rodolphus’s, that doesn’t really mean anything. And I think it doesn’t mean anything to the larger audience as well, who are like, “Who’s Rodolphus?” Because he wasn’t even in the movies.
Alison: Oh, I think it means a lot.
Ana: Well, Voldemort is just a more important figure. So I think thematically it just works better. [With] the timeline, Rodolphus was in jail during Half-Blood Prince. I mean, there was a whole year when he was not there.
Alison: That’s true.
Ana: Then we also have the deal with Augurey. She’s the Augurey. She has a lot of power over the Ministry in the alternative universe where Voldemort has won. It just makes sense to me that she would be his daughter, but then I don’t think it was his intention to conceive her. I think she just happened to [be] born.
Kat: Well, we could talk about [that] all day. But no matter what, they did not have sex.
Michael: We can theorize all we want, but then it goes back, I think, closely to what Ana was just saying, which is that at the end of the day, it’s for a dramatic, thematic purpose. And there’s nothing in the play to contradict it.
Ana: No, there isn’t.
Michael: Rowling has not clarified it further, and this goes back to how you define canon. If you want to forgive some things, then are you going to forgive others by just making up your own canon? Or are you going to go with everything that’s said in the play? Are you going to take it all? Are you going to leave it all? Or are you just going to be flexible and make up your own things in between? Because Delphi brings up another issue that actually ties back around to Harry, which is the dream stuff, which I still can’t figure out because I went back and examined Harry’s dreams prior to Voldemort coming back to a physical form. Because a lot of people have argued, “Well, Harry has really important dreams prior to Goblet of Fire.” But if you examine Harry’s dreams, they’re actually more reflective of things he already knows rather than being prophetic and being literal in the sense that his dreams regarding Albus are. By Goblet of Fire – once Voldemort comes back – his dreams become almost literal to the point where he’s literally seeing what Voldemort sees. But his dreams in the middle usually start off as normal dreams. Somewhere in the middle they mix with Voldemort, and at the end they’re Voldemort’s visions. And the dreams that he’s having related to Delphi and Albus are prophetic because they tell him where to go. And as I’ve said in the Cursed Child episodes, the dreams almost purely function to be “He went that way!” dreams. But there’s no Horcrux connection between Harry and Delphi, and if there were, that’s not how that should work anyway. So there seems to be a failing of canon in that respect. I don’t know if there’s any other ways that you feel the text supports that explanation?
Ana: I feel like maybe it’s just the fact that Delphi has Voldemort’s blood, so that’s why Harry suddenly has this pain in his scar or something like that. And he starts being able to speak Parsletongue again for some mysterious reason, which is never explained. But I think that’s how I explain it in my head, anyway. He feels the connection because she’s half Voldemort in some way. That’s my theory, anyway.
Michael: Anybody else have a reasoning for that? Because to me, it just doesn’t work because Horcruxes – as far as we know – don’t work that way.
Kat: Yeah. My reasoning is #notcanon.
Alison: I think I’m thinking a similar thing that Ana is thinking. It has something to do with… Ugh, what am I saying? I get the feeling from the play that Delphi is trying to revive some of the old Dark magic that Voldemort used. It’s plausible, I think, in Rowling’s world that that could trigger off some stuff that causes Harry to have these visions or this connection to her.
Micheal: I think that’s what the play implies without actually saying because they never actually say it, do they?
Alison: No. But it’s something that I think maybe came across more visually.
Michael: Yeah, I think this is another one of those things that I think comes up when we’re talking casual viewer versus uber Harry Potter fans. Will it bother the casual viewer? No. Because they saw the movies, and they know Harry has dreams, and they’re visions and that sometimes that happens and he had a connection to Voldemort’s head. Does it bother the fans? Yes, because it doesn’t work with everything that we’ve established about Horcruxes and Harry’s blood and how Delphi would be connected to him if at all. The only excuse I can give it a pass for is that through Harry Potter, and through Harry specifically, there [have] been suggestions that Voldemort and Harry were involved in such unexplored Dark magic that nobody really knew what would happen.
Michael: But that’s the only excuse I can give it, unfortunately. And the other thing I wanted to bring up with Harry is that… I read the line that was cut about Thestrals, and I feel like… I was reading through the scene where Harry goes to see Amos – or rather, Amos comes to see Harry – and how Amos antagonizes Harry and Harry just doesn’t respond. And Harry’s grieving process in Cursed Child, versus his grieving process through all of the Harry Potter novels… I know, Alison, you felt like this character arc makes sense for Harry.
Alison: Mhm. I just think it’s a time thing, a time and a maturation thing that he’s… I mean, it’s been 20+ years. He has lived a little bit more; he’s lived a little bit differently. I think he’s had time and… There’s a big difference between one year of processing and 20 years of processing, so it makes sense to me. I have no problem with it.
Michael: Ana, how do you feel about Harry’s journey though Cursed Child compared to the first seven books?
Ana: Well, I’m not sure. I think a lot of people have complained about how he is being toward Albus and how he is as a father, that he’s being very insensitive and that that is somehow out of character for him. But I think that it makes sense. I mean, he’s a father of a teenage son, so that’s one thing. But also the fact that Harry has never been very good with feelings, in my opinion anyway… I feel like that’s very in character for him to say the wrong things when he’s upset. I mean, he’s trashing Dumbledore’s office after Sirius dies, so he definitely has a temper and can say stuff like, “I’m sorry you’re my son,” which so many people see as being out of character for him and almost unacceptable. So I don’t really have a problem with his characterization, I think.
Michael: It’s funny because I feel like this Harry does go back on things that he’s learned, not just in Hallows, but in the series as a whole in that. But to be fair, I actually think that Harry is really trying very hard as a parent and that he’s just facing the common issues that you would face with a teenager. And I’m not really surprised by the things Harry says because Harry’s attempts to reach out actually seem pretty reasonable. He actually seems to be fairly in character to me. He’s just coming up against a version of Albus that I didn’t really expect to see, I guess, and I didn’t really gather was coming from the epilogue. And as we said before, [I] just didn’t feel like he was satisfactorily built that way in the first scenes because of the way they’re rushed through. Harry feels canon to me in Cursed Child, for the most part. It’s the people around him that don’t.
Ana: Yeah, I think the worst is the flunky Ron, I would say, if I had to pick one of them.
Alison: Oh, I feel like Ron is in character.
Ana: Really? I think he’s more like comic relief and just not really saying anything or contributing anything at all.
Alison: Well, it’s not his problem, most of it.
[Ana and Michael laugh]
Alison: I think we talked about this on the [Cursed Child] episodes, and that’s very Ron. If it’s not his problem, he’s not going to get too involved. [laughs]
Kat: Oh, I don’t think that’s true. Look at all the help he gave to Harry – that wasn’t his problem – throughout seven books.
Alison: But I think that it was his problem. It was his best friend.
Kat: That’s his best friend’s kid! He’d be there.
Alison: I know! But he’s got his own family and stuff now.
Kat: So does Hermione.
Alison: Well, it’s the same family. [laughs] But Hermione has always been more inclined to not try and take control of a situation but [still] take control of a situation, whereas Ron has always been a little bit more, “I’ll be there when I need to be there.” But then there’s the fact that Ron is not there when most of this big stuff goes down, and so he’s in the periphery of the whole situation. But when it does, he takes that stand and he’s like, “Not my kids – haven’t been around here for much, but if they’re doing it, I’m doing it.”
Michael: That brings up a larger issue for me that I think would be a good one to… Because we’re coming up on two and a half hours.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: We’ve got to wrap it up. But an issue that I thought about, too, as I was reading… Do you guys feel that? Because I realized – and I understand this is a natural consequence of a play – you have to take out a lot of characters. The Harry Potter world is full of characters, really rich supporting characters who, in a way, don’t feel like supporting characters. But do you guys feel that the elimination of a lot of these characters affected how these events went down? Because I was thinking about it and I thought the Weasley family is large [from] what we see here, but it’s even larger. And the Weasley family has always been portrayed as a family that rallies around each other, and it’s weird not to really even have them mentioned. And I feel like they would have been more involved in this. I feel like a lot of other characters that we know would have been involved in this.
Kat: Yeah. There’s no way that Hugo finding out whatever is happening with his family and his cousins and all of that stuff wouldn’t have been around more. And what about Fred and George, for F’s sake?
Alison: Well, Fred is [dead]!
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: You know what I’m saying. Anyway, where was he? And I understand that they have lives and all of that stuff, but if Ron works with him, he knows what’s up. He knows what’s going on. And where is he?
Alison: I think some of it is the media of the play. I don’t see them being eliminated, necessarily. Again, it’s what gets carved out. But going from the books, the Weasleys – as much as they’ll rally together – also let each other live their own lives. When they’re together in physical proximity, they’ll be whatever. But… I don’t know. I don’t see Ron, Fred, George, Percy, or anyone feeling like they need to know everything that’s going on in Bill’s life or Charlie’s life when they’re at school. So I see them as being close, and I’m sure they were all keeping up on the basics of what’s going on. But even just thinking about my own family – since all of my siblings are married and have all moved off – we all keep in contact, but it’s not like we all know every single detail of all of our lives. And even if something big happens, it’s not… I mean, there’s a certain point where we’d all come back together, but until it gets to that point, if whoever’s thing it is is handling it…
Kat: Ooh, ooh, ooh! You can’t see me, but my hand is in the air.
Alison: [laughs] Yes, Kat? Make your point.
Kat: Percy is the Head of Magical Transportation. He works at the Ministry. The Time-Turner is a form of transportation.
Michael: Well, Percy would have put…
Alison: I don’t think that fits into that department.
Kat: Don’t tell me that it’s not! Because it transports them everywhere.
Alison: Through time, though. That’s a whole different thing than… Magical transportation, I think, is more like carpets, brooms, the train…
Kat: He should still be involved; it’s Percy. And I feel like…
Michael: Percy would have been involved because at some point, if we’re looking at that, there’s a team that goes out to examine the whole Hogwarts Express line when Scorpius and Albus disappear.
Kat: Boom. There you go.
Alison: So he probably was involved, but that doesn’t mean he needs to show up.
Kat: Oh, yes, he does! He and Hermione have always been kind of tight in that weird, scholarly way.
Michael: The play tries to enlarge this scope to the point that when Albus and Scorpius disappear, Harry and Hermione contact the Muggle Prime Minister to get them back and they hold these huge meetings that are open to the public to find out what’s going on. So this isn’t a small issue.
Alison: So everyone’s off doing something to help. [laughs] I mean, I don’t see why, if we’re talking about Percy… When this is happening, they’re having this meeting. They’re trying to figure stuff out. Percy is off in one section looking for them, George is off in another place looking for them…
Kat: But you can’t just assume that.
Michael: You can’t assume they are either. It goes both ways.
Michael: What were you going to say, Ana?
Ana: I think I agree that some of the absences are a bit strange, maybe. There’s no Neville. There’s no Luna. They could have probably contributed with some insights. But I also think that if we’re talking about canon – it doesn’t necessarily affect it for me – that doesn’t make it less canon in any way. I think there would have been a risk for it to have been even more convoluted if they introduced more characters because they’re hardly handling the characters they do have.
Kat: See, I think it makes it even less canon for me – and it was 0% canon for me – because if J.K. Rowling was writing it, we would get those character moments. We would get a mention of Percy going out to look at the train, or we would get a moment of Red – of Ron… See, I did that…
Michael: [laughs] Red Ron.
Kat: … of Ron talking to his brother about what was happening in the family. And that, for me, is the biggest difference and why it’s really disappointing that those things are cut out because it screams that J.K. Rowling is not involved.
Ana: But even if Rowling had written it… I think if she were writing a play then she would have to cut some things out, unless you want to make it a seven-hour play, and it’s already very, very long. It’s probably comparable to Fantastic Beasts. I mean, how many things are probably missed there also because it’s a script? You can’t really have everything in it, unfortunately.
Michael: Oh yeah, absolutely. Well, even in her books – like you said, Ana – there are scenes that we know she intended that were not necessarily contradictory or plot problems. They were just making the books too long in some instances. Like her whole plan to expand on Dean Thomas’s character, and she didn’t do it because there wasn’t room for it.
Ana: Yeah, exactly.
Michael: But yeah, I guess I was just thinking that… Because in my [mind] – and I’ve expressed this already before – really, I assumed and envisioned that Cursed Child was just going to be something very different. I thought it was going to be more of a character examination, [but] then it ended up being this grandiose Time-Turning plot. And with the Time-Turner you end up getting a bunch of characters that, for me, felt super superfluous, and if they had not been in the plot, would have allowed for room for these other characters to be around and present and affect the story. Which I think, again, might possibly go potentially back to Keaton’s question about why people were so opposed to Cursed Child and had problems with it, because there is an obsession with a lot of characters that I think people weren’t really interested in at that point. I think a lot of people point especially to Scorpius’s jaunt to the alternate timeline with Umbridge and Snape and alternate Hermione. But I guess that’s the issue, too. I feel that a lot of the characters and the story itself maybe would have gone in different directions and could have potentially gone in different directions that felt more canon to me than the choices that were made.
Kat: I’d be all over character study. What I wanted and what I was hoping for as well [was] something that explored the relationship of Albus and Harry in not this, like I said before, Scooby-Doo-type caper. I don’t need that. I want character depth. I want character moments, and it just really fell flat.
Alison: That’s so funny.
Ana: Yeah, I agree with some of the points. I think the fan fic would have been much better than it was. I mean, the quality is not the best, to say the least. But I think I separate that from the issues of canon. To me, I can say something is very bad and shallow and whatever and still think it’s canon. So I think that that’s why I understand all the complaints and agree with them, but they don’t really affect what I think is canon or not because I’m just going by the definition as I see it.
Michael: That’s an amazing ability, Ana.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: I got to give you… See, that’s something that personally, I’m very fearful of because I use Star Wars in that respect as an example, because I feel like with how angry the fandom got with the Star Wars prequels… They take them as canon but they don’t like them in general. And I guess that may be where part of my fear – and maybe where part of the fandom’s fear – comes from because I know what can happen when a fandom lets those things happen. I guess they throw up their arms and say, “Well, it is what it is. We have to take it as such.” But that gets into a whole other thing about ownership of stories and what we were talking a little bit before at the top of the show about legalities and where those rights will eventually transfer to. But what were you going to say, Alison?
Alison: Oh, I was going to say I think it’s funny that you guys don’t see this as a character study because I completely do. I definitely see it as Albus dealing with a legacy and Harry dealing with passing on a legacy. And I definitely see, especially thematically, that what’s happening here is a character study of how all of this really affected Harry and how it affects his children.
Michael: I kind of see it as a failed character study, mostly because of the reasons you pointed out, Alison, that it goes too fast at the beginning. It’s missing a major part of the development, for me personally, that would make it that way because we just go from “Harry and Albus are fine” to “Harry and Albus hate each other because of stereotypical reasons.” And yet again, I think another reason that people just, as we said before, weren’t really into it was [that] the story itself isn’t really surprising. The themes at least aren’t very surprising, and I think we’re used to surprising things in Harry Potter. Rowling spoiled us a lot. I think we’ve discussed that a lot on the show, that Harry Potter had something different about it – a lot of things that were different about it – and I think some of the fandom feels that this isn’t different, I guess, for some of them.
Ana: Well, there were things in the books that were pretty, I think. We knew about the “Snape loved Lily” [theory], for example. That was a theory way before Deathly Hallows actually revealed it to be true. And Harry as a Horcrux… I think that was also a popular theory, [along with] RAB being Regulus Arcturus Black and all that. So not everything goes unpredictable, and I think there are things that are unpredictable in Cursed Child, but maybe not necessarily in a good way. I hear what you’re saying.
Michael: That’s close to what I’m saying. It gets deeper down into writing style and choices on Rowling’s part, but that gets into issues that go, I think, beyond canon. And I think the thing that I’ve gathered from this discussion is that while everybody is trying to seek out this blanket definition for canon, it ends up being so individual that it’s not really possible, at least in the case of Harry Potter. How do you ladies feel about it?
Kat: That’s true about everything. You can agree to disagree. I have a friend… It’s funny; we were having a conversation about a topic, and we agreed on everything but our point of view. And if somebody asked us a question about that and they said, “What do you think about this?” she would say one thing [and] I’d say the opposite, but we agreed about everything else.
Kat: So it’s one of those weird things where, again, it’s all about where you come from and your experiences and what you believe to be the ultimate truth and how you perceive that in the world, I think.
Ana: Hmm… Yeah, I think some of the disagreements are about quality versus authorship and what should matter most. Because I think we all agree that the quality could have been better, especially if you only read the script and don’t see the play. But I don’t think we all agree on whether or not it matters for whether or not it’s canon, because I don’t really bring quality in that much into my definition. So as far as I’m concerned, it could have a hundred contradictions with the seven books and it still wouldn’t make it not canon for me. Because it’s all in the authorship and it’s all in her licensing it and also calling it canon, which, like I said, makes it limiting on what she can create relating to the Potterverse from now on. Because she will have to respect Cursed Child if she ever wants to create something else or write something else about Harry or Hermione or anybody, basically, on Pottermore.
Alison: Yeah. That’s pretty much it.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Alison: I think it’s an individual thing of what everybody is going to accept as canon and what they’re not. But I think what’s not okay is people dismissing other people’s interpretations.
Alison: I think, also, too, you can’t ignore it. Even if you don’t think it’s canon…
Kat: Yes, you can. Sorry.
[Kat and Michael laugh]
Alison: I don’t think you can, especially if, like Ana said, it’s something that J.K. Rowling has said is canon. She has put her stamp of approval on [it]. I think maybe in people’s personal interpretations they can ignore it, but I think when you’re talking about the Wizarding World, you’re talking about Harry Potter, you’re talking about this world she’s created, you can’t ignore it because it’s a part of it, whether people like it or not, in a lot of ways. [laughs] Whether that’s as canon or as something else, it’s a part of it.
Michael: Yeah, well, I think that will be interesting to see as we pass September 1 of 2017. Will we be seeing Rowling tweeting, “Albus and Scorpius have gone back in time today”? Is that going to be a thing?
Ana: Well, she’s already tweeted that they are going to school, but I think it was on the wrong date or something, or the wrong year.
Michael: Oh, she did!
Kat: She said it was last year  when it was… It’s not, yes.
Ana: Yeah, exactly.
Michael: Wasn’t she tweeting about the other kids?
Alison: She tweeted about James’s Sorting.
Michael: Yeah, she tweeted about James going to school.
Kat: No, she also tweeted about Albus. She said, “Albus is going back to Hogwarts today!” and everybody was like, “Uh, nope! That’s next year.” And she was like, “Whoopsie.”
Kat: “I’m in a Cursed Child head space. Got it wrong!” We all know she’s bad at math; it’s okay.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: Well, there we go. We’ll have to see how she approaches that, I guess, within the coming years and that will be a whole new challenge, I think. In addition to stirring in the next Fantastic Beasts movies into that and, as Ana mentioned, seeing what they’ll do to Dumbledore’s story and to, potentially, Harry’s story, we’ll have to see how that pans out. I guess the only thing we can do from here is throw it to the listeners. When you guys go to alohomora.mugglenet.com this week, have at it.
[Kat and Michael laugh]
Michael: Go crazy. We can’t wait to hear…
Kat: Remember to be respectful, please.
Michael: Yes, please. You guys usually are very excellent with your discussion on the main site, but we know it can get very passionate about this kind of stuff. So just remember that you’re sharing your opinion, not so much trying to beat your opinion into somebody else’s head. [laughs]
Michael: Be gentle. But we know you will be, just as our excellent guest, Ana was this week.
Ana: Thank you.
Michael: Ana, we want to thank you so much for being on the show. Kat was very determined to make sure this was a balanced panel, and I think choosing you was an excellent choice. You proved yourself worthy for this very challenging panel.
Ana: Thank you so much for having me. It was great fun.
Kat: Good. And thank you for staying up until literally six in the morning.
Ana: [laughs] No problem. It was worth it.
Kat: Did you go to sleep and then wake up again?
Ana: No, I didn’t go to sleep at all. [laughs]
Kat: Oh my gosh, do you have to work? Or go to school or whatever?
Ana: There’s no way I’m going to the office tomorrow. So yeah, I’ll be “working from home.”
Kat: Ahh, okay. Cool. So you get to sleep in a little bit. All right, all right. Cool, cool, cool.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: Thank you, Ana. You were brilliant. You were the perfect representation for the “Go canon!” side.
Ana: Thank you.
Alison: And our next topic… Well, who knows if it will be quite as controversial…
Alison: It very well could be. [laughs] Our next topic is going to be education, aka that thing that didn’t happen a lot when Harry was at Hogwarts.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Michael: Yeah, I think we’re pretty much on the same page on that one. [laughs] And if you, listeners, would actually like to be a part of the education discussion or future discussions that are going on on Alohomora!, there’s a way to do that. To be on the show, all you have to do is go to alohomora.mugglenet.com. We have a tab that says “Be on the Show.” Click it and you’ll be able to find out more about that. You can actually select from a drop-down menu the specific topics that are coming up, so you can specify which topic you want to be in. That’s going to give you a much better shot to be on the show if you specify what you want to talk about. We also have a separate tab on the main site – the “Topic Submit” page – where you can suggest topics you would like us to talk about. We can come up with topics all day long. I think we could come up with a thousand more topics just about Cursed Child alone…
Michael: But head over to the main site to figure out how to be on the show. If you have a set of headphones and a microphone, you’re all set. We’ll get you all set up with getting your recording program loaded up and ready to go. No fancy equipment needed.
Kat: And in the meantime, if you want to yell at us because you think our opinions suck, you can do that over on Twitter at @AlohomoraMN…
Michael: Or because they’re great! [laughs]
Kat: … and over on facebook.com/openthedumbledore. The website, of course, is alohomora.mugglenet.com. And we are sad to report that audioBoom no longer accepts the audio feature, so you can no longer send us a recording. So send it to our email instead!
Kat: Record yourself saying something. We want to hear it! We want to play it on the show! We want to include more of your stuff. So our email is email@example.com. Send us your thoughts, your comments, your questions, any of the upcoming topics… If you don’t want to be a guest host because you’re too shy, you’re quiet, or you live with 12 people who will never be quiet…
Kat: … send us your questions in [an] email. We want you to be involved in the discussions and we want to hear from you, so please do that. Or tweet at us. We like Twitter.
Michael: As you saw on this episode.
Michael: And one more reminder to check out our Patreon. Once again, we want to thank Paul Gomila, our friend Slyvenpuffdor, for helping us support this episode and supporting us for over a year now. And what’s this little bonus discussion here that we’ve got?
Kat: Yeah, we didn’t really get to touch on probably one of the most controversial things…
Kat: … in the “Harry Potter [and the] Cursed Child: Is it canon?” – the trolley witch. So we’re going to take a few minutes and discuss her, but you have to be a sponsor over on Patreon to listen. So definitely head over there, check that out, become a sponsor. Tell them how, Michael.
Michael: At patreon.com/alohomora, where you can sponsor us for as low as $1 a month. But I think we’ve done our best to #BreakTheCurse…
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Michael: I don’t know if that curse is still holding tight or not. You, the listeners, will have to tell us…
[Show music begins]
Michael: … but for now, we’re heading out of here. I’m Michael Harle.
Kat: I’m Kat Miller.
Alison: And I’m Alison Siggard. Thank you for listening to Episode 215 of Alohomora!
Kat: Open the Delphi door!
[Show music continues]
Kat: Ugh! Whew.