It’s a sequel, not a prequel.
That’s what J.K. Rowling was trying to warn over and over this summer following the news about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a new two-part play she’d developed with playwright Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany, set to premiere on London’s West End in 2016. Early reports latched onto the idea that it would precede the Hogwarts tenure of the Boy Who Lived; rather, it’s quite the opposite.
New details have emerged about Cursed Child, the biggest being the suggestive tagline timeline: “The eighth story. Nineteen years later.” The revelation follows the late-night debut of the key art, which features a despondent, shaggy-haired boy uncomfortably curled inside a straw snitch.
Yes, Rowling’s new Potter project picks up 19 years after the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and is officially being touted as the “eighth story in the Harry Potter series.” The brief plot description provides a glimpse of illumination about what we can expect from Thorne’s new play:
“It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”
Upon quick digest, the salient points are not in the teasing of ambiguity or reconciliation of past and present (always a persistent theme in the Potter saga) but in the specific details of what Cursed Child has to say about the Potter family: Harry, having achieved his dream of being an Auror at the Ministry of Magic, is no more immune to the pitfalls of adulthood than any other middle-aged wizard. Nor is Albus, his youngest son and the apparent titular cursed child, immune to the pressured legacy of his famous father. (In the epilogue of Deathly Hallows, Albus leaves for his first year at Hogwarts, which is ostensibly, exactly where this play picks up.)
Rowling took to her endlessly informative Twitter (a de facto Room of Requirement for random additions to the Potter canon) to add a few morsels of enthusiasm to the announcement:
Preview performances for both parts officially begin on June 7, with July 30 marking the world premiere opening night. A weekly ticket lottery will be held, although there is likely a slim chance that J.K. Rowling will rap before each drawing.