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This project has been years in the making, as we learned in 2013 that Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was working on a stage play, which would extend the Harry Potter universe in some way. At that time, the story was expected to center on Harry Potter's earlier years, prior to his arrival to Hogwarts. It's unclear if that still applies, and the official announcement offers no specifics on the plot, only that the production is a collaboration by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, the latter of whom will direct.
As has been her practice lately, J.K. Rowling did take to Twitter today to fill in a few blanks, including a vague response to why she's telling this story on the stage, as opposed to a new novel...
To answer one inevitable (and reasonable!) question - why isn't #CursedChild a new novel? - I am confident that when audiences see the play— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 26, 2015
they will agree that it was the only proper medium for the story. #CursedChild— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 26, 2015
Though Rowling seems reluctant to divulge too many details about the story, as she doesn't want to spoil fans, she did say...
However, I can say that it is not a prequel! #CursedChild— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 26, 2015
That one's tricky. As mentioned, when we first heard that this play was in the works, the report was that the story would center on a younger Harry Potter, focusing on his life as an orphan, presumably when he was miserably living in the cupboard under the stairs of Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon's house in Little Whinging. If it's not a prequel, does that rule this plot out? Or when Rowling says prequel, does she mean it's not centered in any Harry-related story before Harry Potter's time. Meaning, that it's not about his parents. It's possible Rowling wanted to clarify that, following Daily Mail's recent report that the play would focus on what happened to James and Lily Potter.
We do know that the story will involve Harry Potter in some way, as Rowling says as much when talking about how Jack Thorne, John Tiffany and Sonia Friedman are a "dream team."
It has been a huge pleasure to share with them (and soon, with you!) this untold part of Harry's story. #CursedChild— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 26, 2015
If we take Rowling's "not a prequel" statement to mean it's not about anything that took place before the Harry Potter books, that would rule out Harry Potter's early years, in which case that leaves us with two options; that it's centered on something that happens to Harry post-Hogwarts, or it's something that happened to him during the timeframe of the Harry Potter books, and it never made it into the novels.
As for the "Cursed Child" part of the title, though it's possible that's a reference to Potter himself, the "and the" part of the title suggests otherwise. Going by the titles of the seven Harry Potter novels, it might be safe to assume that Harry Potter is not the Cursed Child, but who knows? If this story is set to be some kind of sequel to the Harry Potter books, is it possible it's centered on one of his kids?
Harry Potter fans have demonstrated a continued appetite for more Harry Potter stories, and J.K. Rowling continues to deliver in different ways. Whether she's sharing essays at Pottermore, or writing in different mediums -- the screenplay for the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them film, and her involvement in this stage production -- the author continues to offer updates on the Harry Potter universe. Fans are likely eager to know more details about the plot of this, and it seems inevitable that we'll get more information between now and next year when this play hits the stage in London.
Tickets for the production will go on sale this Fall, with details about that coming this summer. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is expected to arrive at the Palace Theatre in London in 2016.