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Daniel Radcliffe shared his story of meeting Donald Trump on the Late Night With Seth Meyers before talking about his new off-Broadway play Privacy.
Radcliffe tells that he met Trump while visiting New York City for the first time as an 11-year-old for an appearance on the Today Show. According to Radcliffe he was marched over to meet Trump and when the presumptive Republican presidential nominee asked how he was doing, Radcliffe told him that he was nervous about what to talk about in the show. Radcliffe states that Trump’s response was the following:
“You just tell them that you met Mr Trump!”
Radcliffe also talks about his new off-Broadway show Privacy, which is co-created and written by James Graham and Josie Rourke. According to Broadwayworld.com “Privacy is a timely exploration of the digital age that will feature a cast of seven, including Radcliffe as “The Writer.”” In addition to Radcliffe the cast includes De’Adre Aziza, Raffi Barsoumian, Michael Countryman, Rachel Dratch and Reg Rogers.
“Inspired by the revelations of Edward Snowden, Privacy explores our complicated relationship with technology and data through the funny and heart-breaking travails of a lonely guy (Daniel Radcliffe), who arrives in the city to figure out how to like, tag, and share his life without giving it all away. The play uncovers what our technological choices reveal about who we are, what we want and who’s keeping track of it all. This provocative theatrical event will ask audiences to charge their phones, leave them ON during the performance and to embark on a fascinating dive online and into a new reality where we’re all connected…for better or worse.”
Privacy will begin previews for a limited engagement on July 5th in the Newman Theater. The official press opening of the play will be on Monday, July 18.
"I don’t want to worry about paying for those big names but I’m starting a publisher because I also want the freedom to put forward my ideals forward. After a certain size, your idealism becomes a liability if you’re looking to make money."
Deep in the grubby sump of one of those so-called ‘Social Media’ sites, there is a clump of aging comics fanboys called The Really Very Serious Alan Moore Scholars’ Group, known to its sad and lonely adherents as TRVSAMSG. When they’re not annotating everything in sight, or calling down ancient evils on the heads of […]
It’s been quite a week for master purveyor of words and professional mind f**k*r Chuck Palahniuk. The off the wall comic book sequel Fight Club 2 has a collected edition in stores now. He’s in the final hours of a successful Kickstarter campaign to adapt his novel Lullaby to independent film. If that weren’t enough, he just announced a new […]
Tony Fleecs had been grinding as an indy cartoonist for years, but it was his work for the My Little Pony license at IDW that got him the most attention. Now, he’s returning to creator-owned with Jeff Steinberg: Champion of Earth, written by writer and friend Josh Fialkov, for Oni Press. I talked to Fleecs […]
The good folks at Electric Literature invited me to converse with Adrian Van Young, perhaps not knowing that Adrian and I had recently discovered we are in many ways lost brothers, and so we could go on and on and on...
We talked about Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Sublime, writing advice, writers we like, Michael Haneke, neoliberalism, The Witch, and all sorts of other things. It was a lot of fun and we could have gone on at twice the length, but eventually we had to return to our lives.
Many thanks to Electric Lit for being so welcoming.
The problem is this: In a given year hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of children’s books are published. Of these, a percentage are really extraordinary. Of that percentage, a smidgen get reviewed on this site. Though I began my blogging career doing a review a day (because I WAS CRAAAAAAZY!!!), I’m lucky if I can get one out a week any more. That means that I end up not praising some truly fantastic fare (except possibly in my end of the year 100 Magnificent Books lists).
Now as a general rule I don’t really do interviews on this site, but once in a while I’ll make an exception. Interviews can be a nice way of highlighting some of those books I probably won’t review but really enjoyed. One of those books in 2016 was Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke. A rousing, teasing play on high fantasy novels, condensed into a 40-page picture book, Ben Hatke takes one of the most loathed and abhorred creatures in all of literature and gives him his own day in the sun. Not literally. Goblins aren’t much for the sun. Here now, in a quick and easy interview, is Ben Hatke.
Betsy Bird: So goblins are pretty much the ultimate underdogs of the
fantasy world. I think it’s safe to say there aren’t any famous
goblins out there (always excepting the Goblin King from Labyrinth, of
course). As I recall, there were goblins in your previous picture
book JULIA’S HOUSE FOR LOST CREATURES (another story about magical
creatures finding their place in the world). Why the goblin love?
Ben Hatke: I think you answered that! Who doesn’t love an underdog? Especially a scraggly, scrappy, dirty little underdog?
I think maybe it’s Important to love goblins because the world is full of them. and we all have a little goblin in us.
BB: I’ve read this book multiple times to my 5-year-old
daughter and, naturally, she’s absolutely fascinated with the
reluctantly saved/kidnapped princess who is grumpily carried about
with the other treasures found by the adventurers. What’s her story?
BH: What IS her story?!? There’s a bust of a woman in the treasure room that has a green jewel. The same green jewel is on the woman’s dress. It’s the tiniest of clues that she was turned into a statue. But beyond that? Was she once Skeleton’s true love? We may never know…
BB:Any indication to do a sequel? Or, on a related note, do
you have any future fantasy-inspired picture books in that noggin of
BH: Oh boy. I’d like to visit Goblin again, but possibly in a different format. As for picture books -I love them. There will certainly be more.
BB: What’s next for you?
BH: Lots! The first of a two-volume graphic novel called Mighty Jack releases in September, with the second volume (which is finished) releasing in 2017.
I’m currently working on a middle grade novel that will be out sometime in 2018.
BB: Thanks, Ben! And thanks to the good people at First Second. As an end-of-the-interview treat (like having an extra bit after the credits roll) here is a hitherto unseen, rejected cover for this book. I like it quite a bit. There’s more than a smidgen of pathos at work here:
celebration of the senses on the sand and by the shore.” That’s how a Kirkus reviewer describes the success of
children’s author and poet Kelly Ramsdell
Fineman’s first picture book, At the
Boardwalk. “The oceanside boardwalk bustles
from dawn's first light until night's starry skies.”
This kind of praise isn’t a
surprise to anyone who has read Fineman’s poems, many of which celebrate the
Recently, BBCNewsinterviewedHarry Potter and the Cursed Child show-makers J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne on the making of the play.
Interviewer Will Gompertz starts by asking about the process of three people co-writing one play. After many discussions between the three creators, the story of Cursed Child was fleshed out and ready for writing. John Tiffany explains:
‘We didn’t start writing the play – or Jack didn’t – until we’d agreed on what that story was.’
‘Jack produced an amazing script’ Jo Rowling says in reply to his ‘very self-depricating’ remarks about attempting to write a script.
Rowling then comments on her concerns prior to the play being released to the public:
‘I don’t think I realised how anxious I was … I mean, this is putting me back ten years. Potter attracted a lot of madness, and a lot of hype, and going back to that place, I realised on Wednesday night how anxious that had made me, because I knew how much expectation there would be, and I didn’t want to let fans down.’
Gompertz then asks if there’s a sense that Jo doesn’t ‘own’ Potter anymore. After so many fan creations, so much theorising about her stories and characters, this is a good question to ask. The level of expectation put on J.K. Rowling to deliver the stories that we want as fans could make it seem like the stories are almost ‘owned’ by the fanbase, but Rowling thinks otherwise:
‘I wouldn’t go that far, Will’ Rowling shoots back, whilst Tiffany and Thorne chuckle knowingly.
‘Because, you know, that would be – and I’m deadly serious – that would be to disavow what that world was to me.
Seventeen years that world was mine, and for seven of those years it was entirely mine – not a living soul knew anything about it. I can’t just uproot that from all those personal experiences that inform those stories and say, “I’m throwing that away now”, and that’s how that would feel.’
Jack Thorne chips in, saying:
‘As a fan, you want it to be her world, not our world … it’s her world that we’ve been allowed to play in.’
Will Gompertz then remarks to Director John Tiffany that ‘Jack and Jo had it easy’ in comparison, as Tiffany’s job is to ‘make their imagination a reality on stage’. Tiffany responds:
‘It’s not all bells and whistles, it’s not all glitter guns and cannons. Actually, a lot of it is very very simple magic and illusion, and stage craft … there’s not really a huge amount that could go wrong’
After provoking what was almost a whimper of fear from Jo Rowling in that last comment, Tiffany explains his rather laid-back attitude:
‘We’ve done it very very carefully, so it’s not kind of a wing and a prayer.’
Gompertz asks Rowling whether she could imagine ever creating another world which had as profound an impact as the Potter world:
‘No’ She replies, ‘and nor would I want to. I feel as though I did that, and I love it. It takes up so much mental space, it takes up a lot of space in the world now. I think I would be on a fool’s errand to try and do that again’.
Be sure to watch the full interview at the BBC here. This interview followed The Guardian’s interview with the trio prior to Cursed Child‘s opening this week (here), and the New York Times’ coverage of a roundtable discussion with the cast and crew of Cursed Childhere.
For those who can objectively look at the beliefs of others and even your own, Apocrypha Now from Top Shelf Productions would be the deleted scenes in the Blu-Ray release of the King James Bible. Writer, Mark Russell (Prez) band cartoonist Shannon Wheeler (Too Much Coffee Man) bring readers an informative, if nothing else entertaining, […]
Somewhere deep in the bowels of the Internet, unbeknownst to all but the initiated, there’s an organisation that calls itself the Really Very Serious Alan Moore Scholars’ Group. Occasionally they get to actually communicate with the object of their adoration, The Great Moore himself. The most recent manifestation was in December 2015, when The Master […]
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Dallas Comic Con. James and Oliver Phelps, or sometimes more well known as Fred and George Weasley, have attended Dallas Cons quite frequently in the past few years. Two years ago, I was actually fortunate enough to meet them. This year, however, I only got to see them from afar as they took the stage for a Q&A session. Along with their Q&A session, they had a couple photo ops and were out on the floor for autographs in their down time.
When I met James and Oliver, they were both very kind and inviting. I got a photo op and an autograph with them both. As the line in front of me progressed and I finally made it into the photo op room, I was struck by how happy they both looked. It was one of the very first times I got to meet people at Comic Con, back when I was still treating them like gods instead of humans and acted like the human disaster I am when I met them. Despite my awkwardness, they greeted me with grins and didn’t force me to be too sociable as they placed their arms around me and we took the photo. The autograph was much the same except I had a little more time to greet them and ask them how they liked Texas.
Here’s the aforementioned photo from two years ago:
This Con’s Q&A was particularly entertaining. The Phelps Twins are always entertaining. I was quite impressed by the fact that they chose to stand the entire time, I definitely do not have the energy to stand for 40 minutes while being interrogated by fans of varying degrees of craziness. No offense, I do believe I have quite a high degree of craziness myself.
They ran onstage after the interviewer announced them, greeting the cheering crowd, but then ran off again with a quick “hang on.” They came back a few seconds later, James wearing a Texas Rangers baseball cap and Oliver in a ridiculous cowboy hat. The crowd loved it.
As I mentioned before, James and Oliver are very polite people. Right off the bat, they thanked everyone for being so kind to them and pointed out how glad they were that no one had collapsed at their signing table yet.
Just to clarify for the crowd, the interviewer tried to name which twin was which, but he ended up getting them wrong the first time! To be honest, the only way I could tell is I knew that James was standing on the left and Oliver on the right…
Now, since it was a forty-minute long panel, I’m not going to write about the entire thing. I will, however, put the video that a friend of mine took at the end!
To start, I’d like to kill a rumor that circulates through the fandom quite a bit. “I heard that y’all would sometimes switch roles, sometimes, on set. I was wondering, what is the longest stretch of time that y’all went without getting caught.” This question has come up at both of their panels that I’ve been too. Sorry to burst your bubble, but they never switched roles. They knew that, if they had done, it would have taken a lot of time and money to refilm those scenes and they didn’t want to be a nuisance to the other people working on the film. They did admit to doing it during rehearsal though.
Fan questions at Q&A panels aren’t always the most entertaining. They can be very repetitive and, sometimes, a bit stupid. But occasionally you get that fan who has thought long and hard about their question before asking it, making sure it was unique and interesting.
“If you could do anything besides acting in the film industry, what would it be?” This is a question I had never heard before! And since I am a film student I was very curious to hear their answers. There are hundreds of people with hundreds of different jobs that work on a single movie. Cameramen, video editors, sound editors, directors and assistant directors, producers, etc. You have an encyclopedia of options for working in the film industry. James said that he’d want to be “Grip”, or a person who mounts and moves the camera on a track. Oliver, on the other hand, seemed quite content with acting, but did say he was interested in the makeup department.
“What one scene from the books do you wish they would have put in the movies?” As fans, we all have several different scenes from the books that we were quite upset weren’t put in the movies. Not only scenes, but characters as well. The actors had to put up with the differences without complaint but they must have had opinions too, right? Well, James and Oliver both agreed that they wanted the swamp scene from the fourth book to appear in the movie, but they knew there was a chance it wouldn’t show up.
“What was your favorite book and movie?” I always feel that a persons favorite Harry Potter installment can tell you a lot about their personality. That and I am a very nosy person and just like to know these things about people. James knew immediately that his favorite book was the Prisoner of Azkaban. He informed the crowd that it was the book he was reading when they were cast as the twins. He seemed to add as an after thought that his favorite film was the Goblet of Fire and Oliver picked it up there saying that was his favorite book. James and Oliver like to tease each other quite a bit, which is evident when Oliver informs the crowd that his favorite film is The Deathly Hallows Part 2.
I guess I should stop boring you with my perspective on their panel. But watch the video of the full thing below! You don’t want to miss any of their bickering or stories of pranks they pulled on and off set!
by Alex Dueben Sam Glanzman has long been an artist’s artist. Joe Kubert called Glanzman “one of the most talented men I know”. He’s long been perhaps best known for his war comics, mostly famously, the graphic novel A Sailor’s Story, and his series of short comics about life about the U.S.S. Stevens, both of […]
“Over pie and coffee, I pitched Sophie a couple ideas. One was nothing more than a setting—a small city in southern Italy I had visited a dozen years earlier. The thing about Benevento is that it was totally infested with witches of all kinds, and for generations kids had to learn strategies on how to […]
Last week, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany–both co-writers of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child alongside J.K. Rowling–sat down with producers, actors, and other major forces in the play’s production for a roundtable discussion. The participants talked about the story’s conception, the decision to tell the story in play format, and–naturally–the difficulty of avoiding spoilers.
Colin Callender, one of the Cursed Child producers, says of the play’s journey:
“None of us, all quite experienced in the theater world, have ever experienced anything of this magnitude and intensity before.”
On playing such a beloved character, actress Noma Dumezweni (Hermione) says:
“The weight of expectation is huge. But for me that pressure has been outweighed by getting text messages from mums I know saying how huge it is for their mixed-race daughters that I am playing Hermione. Ultimately it’s a theater piece, I’m a theater actor and doing a job as best I can.”
Public previews of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child began yesterday, June 7, at the Palace Theatre in London. The play officially opens on June 30.
[Recently Joe Casey conducted an email interview with a writer for a now deceased site. I expressed an interest in running it on the Beat, but was unable to contact the original writer despite repeated attempts. As its general internet principle that the interviewee owns the written answers, I agreed to run Joe’s answers, as he’s […]
You can’t be a writer, if you’re not a reader.
– Tish Rabe’s message for children
Tish Rabe is the author behind the latest generation of Dr. Seuss books. When the beloved author of classics including The Cat In the Hat and What Pet Should I Get? passed away, Rabe was tasked with keeping his legacy alive through his rhyming picture books. Rabe has been writing Cat in the Hat books for 20 years!
Tish Rabe is a masterful rhymer which is evident as she makes learning about subjects including space, health, and biology seem beyond fun! She writes the spin-off books based on the daily PBS Kids series, “The Cat In the Hat Knows A Lot About That!” It takes over two years for Rabe and her team — including illustrators Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu — to create each book. The silly rhyming facts are vetted by scientists; down to the color of planets!
Stay tuned to find out Tish Rabe’s Three Rs, how she writes her rhymes, where she got her break in children’s television, and to learn more about how the books and television series go hand-in-hand. Also, Rabe has some great advice for your little authors!
We’re giving away three (3) bundles of books for this episode of StoryMakers. Each bundle includes a of copy of Tish Rabe’s picture books, LOVE YOU, HUG YOU, READ TO YOU; ¡TE AMO, TE ABRAZO, LEO CONTIGO!; OH, BABY, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!; CLAM-I-AM; THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE SPACE; and THE I BELIEVE BUNNY. The giveaway ends at 11:59 PM on June 14, 2016. ENTER NOW!
There are three things I’ll always do … love you, hug you, read to you. The simple promise of togetherness offered in this board book is enhanced by interactive prompts throughout, encouraging parents to engage with their child while reading. Studies show that asking questions, like the ones in this book, helps children learn to read faster than if they just listen to a story. Love and literacy are gifts we can give to our children every day Also available as bilingual (Spanish and English) edition entitled ¡Te amo, te abrazo, leo contigo!
¡Te amo, te Abrazo, Leo Contigo!/Love You, Hug You, Read to You! is a bi-lingual book written in both Spanish and English. Studies have shown that asking children’s questions about what’s happening in a book helps them learn to read faster than if they just sit and listen to a story so this book features interactive questions in both languages. It also offers the opportunity for Spanish speakers to learn English and English speakers to learn Spanish!
Artfully adapted almost entirely from Ted Geisel’s work, this introduction to the world of Dr. Seuss is a must for expectant parents and new babies In simple rhymed verse, author Tish Rabe extolls the joys awaiting newborns when they meet the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, Yertle the Turtle, the Great Birthday Bird, the Grinch, and twenty-five other beloved Seuss characters. Written to be read aloud to babies and babies-to-be (“yes,” babies in utero ), the book includes a brief introduction by “Mrs.” Dr. Seuss Audrey Geisel revealing how she and Ted were fascinated by the idea that babies could hear sounds while still in the womb and might actually respond to the voices of their parents. A perfect gift for baby showers and newborns, Oh, Baby, the Places You’ll Go is the ideal way to nurture a love of reading and Dr. Seuss in the very youngest children.
The I Believe Bunny
Written by Tish Rabe, illustrated by Frank Enderby
Published by Thomas Nelson
Introducing the I Believe Bunny—a delightful new series that helps kids learn about believing, sharing, and putting their faith into action.
Children will identify with Bunny and learn along with him that God is always there to help. Prayer works! Little Mouse is in trouble and Bunny is the only one nearby to help her. But, Bunny is too small. He has to set aside his own fear and trust in God. By putting his faith into action, Bunny is able to help Little Mouse and save the day.
Not only does this precious book teach the importance of calling on God for our every need, it helps children remember to be thankful for God’s work in their lives.
Written by Tish Rabe, illustrated by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Normal the Fish is hosting a seaside talkshow for the Fish Channel and the Cat in the Hat and Thing One and Thing Two are cameracat and crew. Among Norval’s special guests are his old friend Clam-I-Am (a shy gal who lives in the sand and likes to spit), along with horseshoe and hermit crabs, jellyfish, sand fleas, starfish, seagulls, and miscellaneous mollusks. Seaweed, seaglass, tides, tidal pools, dunes, driftwood, and waves make cameo appearances, too. “Warning: Beginning readers are apt to be swept away.”
“Au revoir,” Pluto In this newly revised, bestselling backlist title, beginning readers and budding astronomers are launched on a wild trip to visit the now “eight “planets in our solar system (per the International Astronomical Union’s 2006 decision to downgrade Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet), along with the Cat in the Hat, Thing One, Thing Two, Dick, and Sally. It’s a reading adventure that’s out of this world.
ABOUT TISH RABE
Wish Rabe has written over 160 children’s books for Sesame Street, Disney, Blue’s Clues, Curious George, Huff and Puff and many others. In 1996 — five years after the death of Dr. Seuss — she was selected by Dr. Seuss Enterprises to create The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library, a new line of rhyming science books for early readers. A television series based on these books, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, airs daily on PBS Kids.
Ms. Rabe also wrote the popular Dr. Seuss book for parents-to-be Oh the Places You’ll Go to be read in Utero! and created her own character, The I Believe Bunny, which won a Mom’s Choice Award for Best Picture Book – Gold. She also wrote scripts for children’s television series including “Clifford”, “Clifford’s Puppy Days” and was the Head Writer for “I Spy!” for Scholastic Entertainment and HBO family.
In 1982, she traveled to China with Jim Henson’s Muppets to produce “Big Bird in China”, which won the Emmy for Best Children’s Special for NBC. Later that year, she became Senior Producer of a new science series for kids on PBS called “3-2-1 Contact”. During the five seasons of the show, Ms. Rabe wrote scripts as well as lyrics for songs including “What Does Your Garbage Say?”, “Electricity is the Power” and “People are Mammals Too”.
By Chris Hayden In 2015, hit writer Brian K. Vaughan (Saga, Y: The Last Man) and acclaimed artist Steve Skroce (The Amazing Spider-Man, Cable) released the six issue miniseries We Stand on Guard through Image Comics. The story is set one hundred years ahead of the present and focuses on a group of Canadian citizens […]
Cursed Child is set to start preview performances tomorrow, and in the midst of J.K. Rowling, director John Tiffany and writer Jack Thorne preparing for their opening day, The Guardianspoke to them about their two years of collaboration on the project.
Commenting on the ‘warmth and ease’ of the relationship between the three creators, writer Sarah Crompton says that the ‘friendship and ease between them bodes well for the collaboration that has sustained them for more than two years’.
We are reminded that this is the only interview the trio will give before the opening of the play. Jo recently tweeted a photo of a badge saying ‘#KeepTheSecrets’, which is the running message of the play’s promotion. In a recent backstage glimpse of the play (which you can watch here), the door to the rehearsals room bore a sign saying ‘Keep Calm and Keep the Secrets’.
Jo also tweeted a video today, asking all seeing the preview performances and beyond to keep the secrets of the play under wraps, so not to ruin the story for those unable to see the play or those attending slightly later dates:
“I’ve been through this many times,” says Rowling. “And I hope we get there without any major spoilers, purely because people will have an amazing experience if they don’t know what’s coming.
“Generally speaking, Harry Potter fans are a community, they have each other’s backs, and they want to have that mystery and the sense of surprise. So we’re hopeful. But it won’t be the absolute end of the world. We’re not going to be throwing tantrums about it but we hope for the audience’s sake that we can get there.”
“I’ve been awake since 4am … We were in the theatre last night and I saw a scene that’s very close to my heart, in costume, on the set And it was quite overwhelming”
Director John Tiffany is clearly no stranger to Jo’s amazement with the play:
“Jo has been around for a lot of the process,” Tiffany chips in. “A lot,” she agrees. “But last night was the first time I had been into the theatre and seen everything so fully realised. And it was… extraordinary.”
“We did a fist bump, didn’t we?” says Tiffany, smiling.
“Well, I tried to do a fist bump with you,” Rowling shoots back. “And you tried to shake it. So that wasn’t our coolest moment. But in fairness it was dark…” “And I am not known for my first bumps,” says the director. “Nor am I, really,” adds Rowling. “I just felt the moment demanded one.”
Talking about their nerves, Jo – the 4am riser – feels she could take a lot from Tiffany’s relenting composure. He says that his unshaken nerves were unexpected:
“If you had asked me a year ago how I’d be feeling today, I think I’d probably have said I would be crumbling biscuits in the corner. But I feel remarkably sane.”
“You are so calm,” Rowling interjects. “I am less calm.”
The magic started in a meeting between J.K. Rowling and the play’s now-producer, Sonia Friedman – after speculating the idea and bringing in Tiffany and Thorne, Rowling was completely on board:
“You can probably imagine I have been asked to do something else with Harry Potter five times a week ever since the series ended. Sonia just wanted to explore a theatrical production and I knew her by reputation obviously and thought I would really like to meet her and hear what she had to say.”
On Tiffany and Thorne’s involvement:
“That’s the reason this happened because I thought I will never have the opportunity to work with such great people again,”
Of course, Jack Thorne is a self-proclaimed ‘total Potterhead':
“I still consider myself a Potterhead and I hope the Potterheads don’t hate me so much after this that I am never allowed to be one again.”
Yet Tiffany was unaware of this when he invited Jack to become writer of the play:
“He asked me when we met at the tube station on the way to TheSouth Bank Show awards,” remembers Thorne. “So glamorous,” laughs Tiffany. “And so appropriate, the tube station,” adds Rowling mysteriously. Thorne continues: “And he said, ‘What do you think about it?’ And I went a bit nuts in the street. Only because I’m so incredibly shy, nobody would have seen or realised I was going nuts.”
In an amazing turn of events, Jo Rowling and John Tiffany revealed that they actually met informally years before. Jo was a single mother, writing The Philosopher’s Stone in Edinburgh Cafes, completely unaware of the phenomenon it would become:
One of her favourite haunts was the Traverse theatre, where Tiffany was assistant director. “It was one of the first places in Edinburgh you could have a cappuccino,” remembers Tiffany. “I was there meeting actors and writers a lot, and I remember seeing a woman writing, with a pram at her side. We got to saying hello and I remember once Jo said, ‘Do you mind if I’m here…’”
“Because I hadn’t bought a lot of coffee,” she explains, before Tiffany adds: “Then a year or so later I realised who it had been. And she didn’t come to the Traverse any more.”
Jo says her and Jack Thorne are similar in many ways, making the bond between the three a lot easier to work with. They’re serious about the play, yet seemingly lighthearted, calm and honest in their approach to working with one another. Rowling seems to have completely entrusted her story to the two creators:
“Jack and I are similar in many ways,” says Rowling. “We’re both, notwithstanding how chirpy we are being right now, quite introverted people who are very happy alone in a room, and there are many parallels in our working practices and I felt like he was one of my tribe.”
“And we bonded over the haircut,” he adds, before asking her permission to tell the following story. “We were talking about the way people don’t realise quite how horrible age 10 is. That was the moment I realised it was possible I could never have friends. Other people would have friends and I never would. And I was talking about buying a coat: I bought the same coat as Matt Cox, who was a considerably cooler kid in the year and I had to wear it to school every day because my mum had bought it for me and it was the only coat I was going to get. He wore it a lot better and everyone thought I was copying him.”
He still shudders at the memory. Then Rowling adds, quickly: “And I had exactly the same experience. I had the same feather cut at 10 as Susan Hook. I went into school and everyone thought you are trying to be Susan Hook, you pathetic human being. We had exactly the same experience of being deeply uncool. And that’s what haunts you.”
Tiffany and Thorne understand the power of stories to impact people in complex and important ways, and clearly know the role that Harry Potter has had on so many people’s lives:
“When you’re growing up it’s very easy to feel lonely and insecure,” says Tiffany. “And what Jo managed to capture, I think, was a world which made those people feel less lonely.”
Rowling explains why she took on the project, and trusted Jack with the writing:
“I never set out to build a big community, but I don’t think there is a writer alive who wouldn’t want to have that many people react to their work,” she says. “That’s what happened. People came inside the world with me.
This is why [Jack] is the right man for the job, because he just gets it. That’s pitch perfect. The big reason why people loved Potter was that it felt like it could be. That sense that there is more to the world. Just on the other side. Even within touching distance. There’s more. It is the promise of another world and it doesn’t have to be a magical world but to a lonely child or an insecure person or anyone who feels different or isolated, the idea of having a place where you do belong is everything.”
“From the moment he produced the first outline, I thought bingo, that’s it.
On whether she ever considered writing the play herself:
“I am not so arrogant that I think when you’ve got an absolutely top-class playwright offering to do it that I’m going to say, ‘Well, I’ve never done it before but I’ll do it.’ It’s a question of knowing the limits of your own competence. I was reasonably involved in the Potter scripts. I’m more familiar with that world. I felt a degree of confidence writing a screenplay but I had supreme confidence that Jack was going to write the play that I was going to love and he has. So you can’t ask fairer than that.”
“It is a totally new language to me,” she says. “So watching Jack and what he can do on the page and his understanding on what will then translate on to stage has been such a revelation to me. I know novels and I know movies but this is a different world entirely. Jack has access to a paintbox that I don’t have because I don’t understand the medium.”
Thorne smiles. “To be honest, ever since I wrote Let the Right One In, I’d write something like, ‘They run through a forest and then are strung up on a tree and brutally murdered’. I’d just write it on a page and make John do it. And he does”
The world of Harry Potter seemed silent to us for a long time – the play has returned the magic to us all in a new form, and Fantastic Beasts is introducing us to new elements in the world of magic that we’ve not encountered before. Rowling says that the stories never left her, even whilst she worked on The Casual Vacancy and Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike novels:
“It was 17 years and just because I’ve stopped on the page doesn’t mean my imagination stopped,” she says. “It’s like running a very long race. You can’t just stop dead at the finishing line. I had some material and some ideas and themes, and we three [she nods at Tiffany and Thorne] made a story.”
“But I carry that world around in my head all the time,” she acknowledges. “I am never going to hate that world. I love that world. But there are other worlds I want to live in too. To be perfectly honest, I just feel if I enjoy it, I’ll do it – and if I don’t, I won’t.”
“I always said never say never, and the reason I said that was truthfully that I did have this residue in my head in both directions – in Fantastic Beasts…, which is going back, and in this play, which is going forwards. So I still had this material in my head.
“It’s been amazing because there are roots over there and shoots over here, so it is keeping it very consistent and doing it all at the same time. We are sharing a lot between the worlds.”
The medium chosen for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child intrigued us all – when we heard there would be an ‘eighth story’ many expected another book, some thought it would be a film – many were confused when the scriptbook was announced – it’s a method of storytelling that’s new to us all, but theatre has captured the imaginations of creators for centuries, so perhaps it is only fitting that one of the greatest stories of this century moves to the stage. Rowling explains the reasoning behind the process:
“I kept being asked whether I would make a musical and I don’t like musicals,” she says, grimacing. “Theatre, on the other hand, I love. I find it a seductive world – there is nothing like seeing an actor perform live. But I had never had anyone approach me or propose anything that excited me like this.
“I think that, as a theatrical experience, as a play, it will be unlike anything people have seen before. And once people have had this theatrical experience, they will understand why this was the perfect medium for the story.”
The play is an art form unlike any other, yet in this day and age it seems to be neglected – Rowling herself admits to never having considered its appeal before. Jack Thorne and John Tiffany are trying to bring it back with J.K. Rowling, in style:
“The phrase John hates more than any other is ‘I should go to the theatre more often’ because it contains the idea that going to the theatre is an obligation.” “Like eating your vegetables,” Rowling chips in. “Or going to church,” adds Tiffany. “And that,” continues Thorne, as if in three-part harmony, “is the death of theatre. This is an opportunity, I guess, to get people who don’t feel they should go to the theatre to go to the theatre, and then discover that they want to go to the theatre.”
John Tiffany and Jack Thorne also unpack the reasoning behind Cursed Child being in two parts (as two separate plays):
“You would have had no space for character,” says Thorne. “It would just have been plot, plot, plot.”
Tiffany explains: ”Where film can eat up story, theatre needs space and breath. Once we thought of doing it in two parts, it felt naughty to begin with, but we felt we didn’t want to short change the story. We were very nervous up until the moment when the audience started to buy tickets, and the response was overwhelmingly fantastic, because the fear was that people would think we were just exploiting this. But it wasn’t that in any way, shape or form.” Rowling adds: “We had space to do what we were talking about doing.”
We’ve all seen the unsettling underbelly of Potter fandom rear its head in response to the casting of the Potter trio in Cursed Child – the casting of Noma Dumezweni as Hermione in particular sparked an enraged response.
Some claimed that this casting was ‘against canon’, it was against the films, it was against the book covers, it was against descriptions of Hermione (as having ‘very brown’ skin in Chapter 4 of Prisoner of Azkaban, with her infamous brown ‘bushy’ hair), it was – apparently – just wrong.
Perhaps these remarks did not come from a place of racism, or at least were not intended to come from such shallow places. Perhaps any move away from Emma Watson portraying Hermione would have been met with anger, perhaps people can’t understand that one medium of storytelling does not define another.
Whatever the case, J.K. Rowling commented on the response with the truth: Noma plays Hermione Granger well and – in the author’s opinion – fits the character perfectly:
“With my experience of social media, I thought that idiots were going to idiot,” she says. “But what can you say? That’s the way the world is. Noma was chosen because she was the best actress for the job. When John told me he’d cast her, I said, ‘Oh, that’s fabulous’ because I’d seen her in a workshop and she was fabulous.”
Unknown to Tiffany, when he made his casting call, there had in fact been a “black Hermione” theory around in Potterworld for years. Yet the strength of reaction surprised him. “I am not as Twitter familiar as Jo and Jack, so I hadn’t encountered its dark side, which is just awful,” he says. “The anonymity breeds horrors so after a while I stopped reading it. But what shocked me was the way people couldn’t visualise a non-white person as the hero of a story. It’s therefore brilliant that this has happened.”
Rowling settles the issue with a firm affirmation of Hermione’s state as a fictional character who can be interpreted in a variety of manners:
“I had a bunch of racists telling me that because Hermione ‘turned white’ – that is, lost colour from her face after a shock – that she must be a white woman, which I have a great deal of difficulty with. But I decided not to get too agitated about it and simply state quite firmly that Hermione can be a black woman with my absolute blessing and enthusiasm.”
“Not a bombastic spectacle that makes people sit back,” he says. “It’s hopefully something that pulls you in. It is absurdly ambitious theatrically but it’s also about the audience and the imagination, which is exactly what a novelist does as well.”
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2 start previewing tomorrow, June 7th, with the official opening of the play taking place on July 30th (alongside the release of the Cursed Child special rehearsal edition scriptbook). Forty low-cost tickets for performances will be released each week every Friday at 1pm – find out more at the play’s website here!
Furthermore, if you’re interested in attending Cursed Child Midnight book release parties on July 30th, find out more about GeekyCon’s exclusive event in Orlando here, and Barnes & Noble’s nationwide events here!
Rucka and Lark have been one of my favorite pairings ever since the Half a Life arc in Gotham Central, and their work has only gotten stronger and more cohesive since that was first published. They’re now deep into their most ambitious collaboration to date, the Image Comics series Lazarus. With the freedom of creator-owned […]
Harry Potter alum, Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) recently sat down for a photoshoot with Interview Magazine. In this photo shoot, Matt kept all of his clothes on. He also discussed his life in the five years since the wrap up of the Harry Potter films.
Matt Lewis has covered a number of roles since his Longbottom days. He has taken on everything from romantic comedies and “chick flicks,” to sketchy characters in crime dramas. Matt explained to Interview Magazine how he came to take on such roles, saying:
“Some of the more interesting characters are the ones that aren’t heroic, that aren’t James Bond-esque,” Lewis explains over the phone. “I quite like the interesting ones, so I never really say, ‘I won’t do that, I won’t do this’ or ‘I want to do this or that.’ I like to keep an open mind… [I’m interested in] the idea of people wanting to discuss something that’s happened in their life or that’s impacted or changed them,” he continues.
“On the flip side of that, sometimes it’s nice to do something that’s fun, a movie where people are going to come in, and switch off for an hour and a half. I feel like if you can do one of those two things, if you can tell a great story that affects people or you can make them have fun, then you’re doing all right.”
Matt Lewis discussed how he took on the role of Patrick in the summer flick, Me Before You, and his darker character of Sean in the TV drama, Happy Valley.
On Patrick: “It was quite different. In the book, Patrick is a bit of a dick. He is obviously very focused on himself; he’s self-centered and won’t give a whole lot of time to Louisa’s needs, wants, and potential in life. We wanted to keep the inherent features of Patrick in the movie but we wanted to make it a little bit less black-and-white, a bit more ambiguous as to her ultimate decision. We wanted to see more of a reason why Louisa was with Patrick for the seven years…It can be a scary thing to suddenly leave your life behind and say, “I’m going to go and realize my full potential.” It can be quite daunting and we wanted to convey that.”
On Sean: “There were quite a few nerves involved with that for the few months of preparation for it. I just wanted to make sure that I did it justice.”
Then it was just the idea of trying to get into Sean’s mind. Luckily, for me, Sally understands her characters very well; she has vivid images of where they’ve come from, where they’re going, why they do what they do, etcetera. I had to pick at her brain and find Sean’s motivation, which was daunting for sure, but it all helped in trying to create this character—this young man who is very, very lost.
You don’t play him as the bad guy; you just play what’s on the page and you play his life, and his life was that he moved from town to town, no one had really ever given a shit about him, he’s got a very bad temper and often he regrets that. He drinks a lot and he can’t remember and it’s that frustration more than anything. The anger is a result of the frustration and once you realize that, the rest of it starts to fall into place.
In a flash back to when he was just 11 years old. Matt Lewis recounted his first day on set of the Harry Potter films. He discussed working with award-winning actors, such as Alan Rickman and Maggie Smith, but particularly recalling being in awe of Rik Mayall who was cast as Peeves, a role that didn’t make it past final edit cuts. Lewis talked about how Harry Potter changed how he approached acting, and took on different roles.
“I can remember quite clearly being 11 years old on the first one. We were at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland and it was the scene with Madam Hooch, where we have the broomstick lesson and Neville flies off and crashes into the wall…
“They looked after me very much and I had a week of my life just flying on this broomstick around this beautiful castle in the North of England. I thought, “If this is what my career is, if this is what I’m going to get paid to do for a living, then this is the dream.”
“I was sort of unaware of the caliber of who I was working with, but definitely their fame and their ability to a certain degree. There were a lot of things that those guys had been in and done that I was a huge fan of. At the time, I was a ridiculously big fan of Rik Mayall, who sadly passed away a couple of years ago. Rik was cast to play Peeves the Poltergeist in the first film, and unfortunately he was cut out in the end because of time issues, but he was superb in it.”
“I sat next to him at the read-through and I was completely lost for words. He really took me under his wing and started chatting me through the different characters behind the camera, who everybody was and what their job was, and he signed my script. It was a huge moment to be in that read-through surrounded by all of these amazing people who I’d seen on TV and then they were friendly and so unassuming.”
“Then the worst thing happens, you get to 15, 16 and start to realize, as you’ve already said, the sheer caliber of what they’ve done. You become much more aware of the craft and the medium. All of that camaraderie you’ve built up over the years suddenly takes a big hit because you go, “Oh god, I’ve been so blasé with these people. They’re actually all incredible and I’m just here chilling out with them.” So then you get a whole new fear that comes along. I was 18 when I finally got over that.”
When moving forward from the Harry Potter films, and looking to be recognized in other roles, Matt Lewis expresses the same catch-22 of the other Harry Potter “child stars”–eternal gratefulness that Harry Potter was their start, but seeking to break the labels of their Harry Potter characters and gain recognition for their acting abilities in other roles. Matt Lewis stated:
“It was an exciting time and quite strange [having done] them for 10 years but I was very ready to finish when we came to the last one. After playing the character for that amount of time, I wanted to do different things, I wanted to find new characters, and explore new avenues. I literally had no idea what I was going on to…”
“I wasn’t keen to jump back into a robe and be a wizard in something anytime soon but [I was interested in] anything that came up, really. I felt very much that I was starting at the bottom rung again and that being in Harry Potter was no gimmick; I was going to have to leave that behind to lose the Neville Longbottom tag and prove that I could do other things, learn, and understand.”
The article continues as Matt discussed growing up in Leeds, acting with his brother Anthony, hoping to work with his brother Chris, almost getting trampled to death by cows with his Me Before You costars, and much more. The entire article may be read here, accompanied by a gallery of pictures from the photo shoot.