Cursed Child’s Jack Thorne and John Tiffany discuss script-reading and writing

Director John Tiffany and playwright Jack Thorne at The Critics' Circle Theatre Awards. David M. Benett / Contributor / Getty Images.

11th July 2017

In an extract from the Cursed Child playscript, director John Tiffany and playwright Jack Thorne discuss reading and writing scripts and how they bring the play to life.

Jack and John know a thing or two about scripts in theatre, with Jack being an Olivier and Bafta-winning writer and John being an Olivier and Tony-winning director. The pair sat down to talk about the importance of a script, working with the Cursed Child cast, and how it felt working on the eighth Harry Potter story with J.K. Rowling.

‘As a director, the first time you read a new script is very precious,’ said John. ‘It’s the closest you’re ever going to be to an audience watching a production of this script for the first time. Reading a finished script should allow us access to the story, its characters and the themes the playwright is exploring. A script can make us laugh and cry. It can take us through the joy of its story and also make us feel deep despair for the suffering of its characters.’

‘My scripts are – and always have been – dog-eared, covered in indecipherable notes and smeared with baby puke,’ Jack added. So, not too precious then.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was created by John, Jack and J.K. Rowling. The production opened at London’s Palace Theatre in 2016 and was also released as a playscript – the first time fans got the chance to enjoy Harry Potter in two new mediums: on the stage, and in script form.

22 major theatre awards later, including a record-breaking nine Olivier Awards, and Cursed Child continues to flourish and opens on Broadway in April 2018.

The updated paperback and eBook makes its way to book stores later this month. The new edition includes the final dialogue from the play, which has only gone through a few small changes since rehearsals and early preview performances, plus a timeline of important wizarding world events and a family tree of the Potter family.

So how nerve-wracking was it writing a script for the long-awaited eighth Harry Potter story?

‘…I just hope [the fans are] able to read it as I wrote it,’ Jack said. ‘Jo on one shoulder and you, John, on the other – trying my best to express in every single line the emotional truth and honesty that runs through the Harry Potter books.’

John added that the whole process is still ‘so vivid’, and praised the creative team who brought it to life.

‘From the initial story meetings we had with Jo at the beginning of 2014 through to the audiences who first saw the production in summer 2016, there have been so many actors, creatives, producers, artists, production and technical teams who have contributed to this play.’

Jack agreed, saying he ‘had never spent more time with actors ever’ since working on Cursed Child.

‘On the day before the play opened, I wrote a tweet which said “I’d love people to see it, it’s better seen than read – plays are like sheet music, meant to be sung & we’ve a cast and crew of pure Beyoncé.”’

The full interview with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany will feature in The Official Playscript of the Original West End Production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child out on 25 July.

The official playscript is available to buy from the Pottermore Shop.

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