Spotlight on the magic of theatre will be shining a light on what goes into putting on any theatre show, through the lens of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. This includes script writing, lighting and set design, music, movement, direction and so much more. We hope this inspires you to take on the fun challenge putting on your own stage production.
We encourage you to carry out the various tasks set out in each section, and we look forward to seeing your shows!
Thank you for helping us keep the magic of theatre alive.”
By Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender, Producers of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
It was producers Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender who originally came up with the idea of bringing the Wizarding World alive on stage, the result of which is the eighth Harry Potter story come to life through the magic of storytelling, imagination and stagecraft.
They discuss their collective and personal journeys as producers and highlight their experience around producing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, specifically the early stages.
Sonia Friedman has produced some of the world’s most successful theatre productions, contributing to over 170 productions since 1990 and winning hundreds of awards, including 55 Olivier Awards, 30 Tonys®, and 2 BAFTAs. Colin Callender formed Playground Entertainment in 2012 to produce theatre in New York, after his Emmy, Golden Globe and BAFTA wins for his work as a leading British independent television producer. His time as president of HBO Films and his award-winning work in television aligned his vision and appreciation for new writing and work along with Sonia.
This alignment in vision and interests saw these two producers brainstorming the idea of a potential Harry Potter focused project. The idea of an exciting new story within the Wizarding World, whilst also offering the same breath-taking experience that the films offered was a task that Sonia and Colin were ready and willing to undertake.
'We both knew, without question, it was never going to be an adaptation of the books,' said Sonia. 'That was not interesting to us. Let’s do a new play, a new story inspired by the themes and ideas around the Harry Potter stories.'
Before taking any further steps, it was key to discuss and bring onboard the idea of Harry Potter on stage with the author of the original books, J.K. Rowling.
'I don’t know how long the meeting lasted, but it was a good couple of hours,' said Colin. 'First it was about connecting with Jo and her understanding where we were coming from; how, with this play, we wanted to tell a new story—not an adaptation, not even a prequel. And second, she needed to meet us in person and feel that she would be in trustworthy hands. I think that with the combination of Sonia’s body of work as a theatre producer and my body of work as a film and television producer, she’d seen the quality of what we’d both done and the subjects we’d tackled.'
With an engaging kick-off meeting with J.K. Rowling, Sonia and Colin needed to pull together a talented creative team.
'We first had to figure out the creative team,' said Sonia. 'Jo isn’t a playwright herself, of course, so it was very important to find a writer and director she connected with and felt she could work with. If we could accomplish that, it was agreed we’d move forward. It was stage by stage.'
Their joint decision was to approach the then Tony-Award Winning John Tiffany who had worked with Sonia previously.
'We knew that Harry Potter had to be about storytelling and the magic that’s happening before your very eyes,” Sonia said. John’s work is very emotionally and physically based; he’s not a director you associate with high tech or the modern gizmos out there. Through these meetings, it became obvious that our story should be the epilogue from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, “Nineteen Years Later". Our starting point was there, ready and waiting at the end of book seven.'
With a director signed on, it was now instrumental to find a writer to collaborate with both J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany on developing the narrative and all important script, with the latter playing a key role in the selection of Jack Thorne.
'John was instrumental in introducing us to Jack Thorne, they have a long history together and actually met back in Cambridge when John was teaching a masterclass,' remembered Colin. 'John’s advocacy frankly meant there was no second thought. It was obvious that Jack and John together were going to be a great match.'
The final step was introducing John and Jack to J.K. Rowling. 'She fell in love with them. From there, the creative journey began of developing the story between the three of them, and as you know, the rest is history,' said Colin.
Once the script began to form, it was time to build a full team of creative designers, crew, and cast to bring the story to life.