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Author Topic: CC Spoiler Play vs. Novel – how will it be different?  (Read 797 times)

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July 08, 2016, 08:02:02 PM

atschpe

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Play vs. Novel – how will it be different?

A little while ago I had a very interesting conversation with a dear friend and fellow Discussionstation staffer about how reading the play will compare to the novel. Instead of recounting it in every detail, I have cast a spell to bring the two points of view alive for you here, and invite you to join in with our ponderings about the differences, restraints and opportunities this new format for the potterverse offers as we count down to the release of the play. But I encourage you, not to just take sides. Let us explore the many nooks and crannies we have overlooked, the overlap between the two opinions. Like this we can go into the experience well prepared!

Quote
Rudius Hagrid: So I saw the hp sequel plays are coming out in print soon. I'm still not sure how I feel about a script instead of a book.
atschpe: It’ll be interesting. In a way it leaves the "reader" their own stage to interpret in a bigger way than a book does.
Rudius Hagrid: Yeah but the charm of Jo's writing is as much in the descriptions as the story.
atschpe: True … but we might be getting more subliminal descriptions through this format,  as if she is teaching us to go deeper into a character by ourselves. We'll have to see how it turns out. For all we know there could be a heap of stage directions.
Rudius Hagrid: Maybe... you get so much more from a script based on how an actor reads a part. For example if you look at Hamlet when Polonius talks to him to see if he is insane or not and asks what Hamlet is reading and Hamlet replies "Words, words, words”.
atschpe: I know … but like that [as a play] it gives us the chance to "act out" the script for ourselves – i.e. the reader is more active in the interpretation.
Rudius Hagrid: Yeah but it leaves you with the intention you read into the words that may not have been what the writer had in mind. I always read it [the above passage of Hamlet] as a flippant kind of quick reply. Kenneth Branagh did it in a sarcastic kind of way paging through the book going “words... words…” looks at Polonious and answers: “words”. Mel Gibson did it in a wacky over the top crazy kind of way.
atschpe: Well did Shakeseare intend each of those interpretations?
Rudius Hagrid: We don't really know.
atschpe: I see it like music. The composer/writer gives you the basic material and then it is up to the performer to find their interpretation within the rules & given material.
Rudius Hagrid: My interpretation could be that Hamlet was not paying attention and just answered quickly and then put on an act when he realized what Polonius was there for. Kenneth Branagh's version could be construed as "Pfft: you idiot clearly I am reading a book" showing his disdain for the man and Mel Gibson has his Hamlet going over the top in the insanity plea. The script doesn't have a lot of stage direction, most likely though because the versions we have are a compilation of recovered documents and transcripts. The original players would have had the benefit of the writer giving notes during rehearsals
Rudius Hagrid: as in "Nay, Bob, verily I say unto thee thine inflection is like the backside of a buffalo: thine motivation is that Polonius is the south end of a north bound donkey and he doth vex thee”.
atschpe: All true … but I am looking at this like a musician. I enjoy finding out how another artists finds new interpretation that still fit within the constraints of the piece. Every interpretation offers a deeper understanding, new point of view to the work. I.e. I don't look for the writer's interpretation, but all the possibilities within the boundaries the writer has provided.
Rudius Hagrid: Yes, but as I understand it there is a clinical way of playing a piece which is as written, and a nuanced approach where the artist kind of emphasizes parts right? When you have something so fastidiously analysed like the HP novels, the leeway of merely the spoken dialogue on the page kind of makes for room for a LOT of interpretation.
atschpe: To me the clinical way is not a way, as it has no heart&soul in the interpretation (i.e. like a computer performing). I mean look at the movies. Some dialogues get a new meaning compared to the books, because of the actors, directors, music and other choices.
Rudius Hagrid: Yeah and we dismiss the movies as non-canon
atschpe: Not necessarily for that reason though. Even reading a book, every reader has slightly different takes on things.
Rudius Hagrid: Hehe, I know.
atschpe: Otherwise we would not have had all these years of discussion
Rudius Hagrid: Yeah like the loonies that think the Dursleys are trying to protect Harry from the bad influence of Magic and are actually good parents.
atschpe: If they weren't there (them loonies) we would not have gone into the Dursley-discussion that detailed to discover smaller nuances. So whilst they are wrong, they have guided us to deeper understanding.  Likewise in music, there are interpretations that do not fit the bill, but it helps us to study and learn where the limits are of an interpretation. It also helps us to understand why an individual would choose (consciously or subconsciously) to overstep that boundary. That's a big part of art for me: a means to learn more about humans. So in a way, getting this as a play – Rowling is encouraging us to explore our own art. Some will read it as a book and neglect the subtleties it offers. Others will go over it giving the characters different ways to perform their role – like an actor does when discovering how they want to portray it. Plus, she is actually putting herself out there to be compared with some great writers –  it takes a good writer to offer space or guide an actor/reader as to interpretation.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2016, 10:41:10 AM by atschpe »


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July 17, 2016, 04:25:14 PM
Reply #1

roonwit

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I assume what we will get in the scripts is the words spoken, with minimal descriptions of the action, scene and mood of the actors, so a lot will be left to the imagination of the reader, as opposed to the books where most of the text is describing what is happening. I also wonder how different it will be because Jo isn't the main author of the scripts.
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July 18, 2016, 09:11:32 PM
Reply #2

atschpe

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Good point about Rowling not being the only author, roonwit. I always took it that the story was from her and that her co-authors helped her shape it into a play format. Even so it is a bit unusual, as I don't know of many stage plays that go for longer than one evening (Wagner comes most prominently to mind, but then I am a trained musician and musicologist, so no surprised there) – doubt it'll have the Wagnerian long-windedness though.

Yes, I think most will be driven through the spoken word, which really includes the reader, as (s)he shapes the other dimensions of the story by themselves. This makes me wonder how different reading the play will be to seeing it on stage. Hopefully, some lucky people might be able to give us a glimpse of this.
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July 19, 2016, 06:30:26 PM
Reply #3

HealerOne

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The book of the play that is coming out July 31st is the Special Rehearsal Edition of the script described below:

"The Special Rehearsal Edition of the script will be available for a limited time, and gives readers the earliest opportunity to read the eighth story – just after the play has opened at London’s Palace Theatre. In this edition, readers will have access to the script used by the cast and creative team during rehearsals and previews."
 
I would assume it would at the least have stage directions and may indeed have annotations, however later in 2017 a final edition will be published that will replace the original edition and that will include:

"This final and complete edition will replace the Special Rehearsal Edition in bookshops, both in print and digitally.

The Definitive Edition will contain the perfected, definitive script with final stage directions and annotations, as seen on opening night and beyond. This edition will also include extra content, such as writing from the play’s creative team."

Of course I can't wait for the 'definitive' edition! But I will most likely acquire both editions! It will be fascinating seeing the changes that they made and why. As we know JKR is most generous in writing about these things so I assume we will get some excellent new insights into the play in that Definitive Edition.
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July 19, 2016, 07:35:55 PM
Reply #4

atschpe

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Yes, the comparison will be interesting. It will also give us a glimpse into the process (well the last steps of it), as we pursue the changes.
It does make me wonder if at some point they might think of a film or book version, as well. I wouldn't be surprised of a film, especially if it's a lasting success.

Meanwhile, I wouldn't be surprised if this format could inspire budding actors and other theatre artists to delve deeper into their art, or even younger potter fans to pick up the art of acting.
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July 20, 2016, 10:26:45 PM
Reply #5

roonwit

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Good point about Rowling not being the only author, roonwit. I always took it that the story was from her and that her co-authors helped her shape it into a play format. Even so it is a bit unusual, as I don't know of many stage plays that go for longer than one evening (Wagner comes most prominently to mind, but then I am a trained musician and musicologist, so no surprised there) – doubt it'll have the Wagnerian long-windedness though.
I had the impression from what I have seen and read that the idea came from the play team (writer Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany), they and Jo agreed on the plot, and then the writer was mostly responsible for the script.
It does make me wonder if at some point they might think of a film or book version, as well. I wouldn't be surprised of a film, especially if it's a lasting success.
I think a book version is unlikely, as Jo has said that the right format for it is a play rather than a book, and I think a Harry Potter book not principally by Jo would be difficult. However a film might be possible, though I suspect it would be a film of the play rather than it being rewritten for film.
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July 23, 2016, 06:16:34 PM
Reply #6

HealerOne

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Roonwit, I agree a film may be of the play rather than a new film script.

I thought I saw that JKR was credited in the script writing itself. Well this is how the Cursed Child Website describes it:
"Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a new play by Jack Thorne. " (My italics) So I think you are correct. Jack Thorne actually wrote the script but JKR and John Tiffany contributed to the story line. Similar to how she collaborated with the film script writers. The play is considered an 'Official Harry Potter story'.

I am getting anxious to see what the story is. I'm sure it will have plenty of twists and references to all our favorite characters
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July 24, 2016, 02:22:58 PM
Reply #7

atschpe

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All good points. It will be interesting to see how Rowling's work translates to the stage.

Discussing the snitch-imagery in the title&artwork thread, I started to wonder how the staging will show the magical side of things – broomstick flying, spells and so forth. This is nothing new to stage productions, as they use mechanisms to lift actors as if flying, or use colours and puffs of smoke (bangs), too. Would they just use these, or do you think they might go more hitech with projections, screens or similar?
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July 24, 2016, 08:05:05 PM
Reply #8

roonwit

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All good points. It will be interesting to see how Rowling's work translates to the stage.

Discussing the snitch-imagery in the title&artwork thread, I started to wonder how the staging will show the magical side of things – broomstick flying, spells and so forth. This is nothing new to stage productions, as they use mechanisms to lift actors as if flying, or use colours and puffs of smoke (bangs), too. Would they just use these, or do you think they might go more hitech with projections, screens or similar?
Of course in a novel special effects are no more difficult than ordinary effects - the author just needed to describe them - and everything happens exactly the same way on every read through. In a play there are more limitations, such as what is physically possible, what is safe and comfortable for the actors to do, and what can be affordably repeated in each performance. So I think the play may well have bangs, flashes and puffs of smoke, but I think any flying will be limited - they could do flying lessons perhaps, but anything more would be difficult to do realistically. I am inclined to believe that there won't be much hi-tech action - it would probably be difficult to do it well and make it work for the whole audience, but a limited amount of projected content is possible.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2016, 11:58:18 PM by roonwit »
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July 25, 2016, 04:17:32 AM
Reply #9

HealerOne

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Speaking of flying :broomstick:. Last year I went to a production of Peter Pan and they had an unusual way of presenting the flying scenes. They had dancers that lifted the children up to fly. The dancers had costumes that blended into the background, It was quite magical how they combined the dancers with a Hi-Tech background that made a wonderful illusion of flying.There are many ways of staging a flying scene - including wires - as they often do in Peter Pan productions. If they do have flying scenes in TCC, I am pretty sure it will be limited.

However if the nest in the artwork is to be a part of the story - one wonders if they won't have to have some sort of flying scene. How else would the Cursed Child get up there? Giants?
:hmm:
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July 25, 2016, 09:52:33 PM
Reply #10

atschpe

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Ye,s sometimes the non-technical solutions are the most magical. I have seen similar things. For instances people underneath a huge dark cloth lifting the actors, passing them from one to another, as they change poses. It would be great if the Cursed Child staging not only offers plot surprises but also stages solutions that wow.

Yes, there nest does make you wonder whether and how much flying there could be. Of course they could build a gondola in the shape of a hippogriff, or what it might be, to carry the actor(s). Of course, that is something we'll have to wait for reports on, as we probably won't see be able to garner this from reading the play.
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August 01, 2016, 11:48:37 PM
Reply #11

Rudius Hagrid

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Having read the play I can finally say with certainty:  I wish it was a book.  The story feels like it is compressed into what will fit into a stage production, only containing the bare minimum of narrative required to convey a story in between potty breaks.  The fact that I read it from cover to cover in one sitting left me both breathless in the scope of the story, but also disappointed like someone who just ate a 'fun' size chocolate.

One can feel the spirit of Jo's writing is hiding in the story, the interaction between the characters and so on teases at what a novel could have been and I miss it terribly.  It is the spirit of "The book was better" without the benefit of the book.
:hagrid: Welcome to the Discussion Station!! :hagrid:
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August 02, 2016, 07:52:28 PM
Reply #12

HealerOne

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POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD; READ AT YOUR OWN RISK Having read the book I can say with certainty this story was better as a play.  ;D  My reasons are that with all that time flipping, a book would have gone over, and over all that we all have read before - and as you must concede - Harry Potter fans can be cynical and very fussy about the HP CANON (echo, echo, echo). To attempt a book with this much repetitive narration would have been terrible. I would have been bored to death. Probably only sticking to it because I knew JKR was going somewhere, but I am sure I would have been disappointed by the time I was through with all that description I had already read. By having a new venue to tell this story, it can move faster because the actors fashion the description for us. Also it is easier to transition from scene to scene because you can use the magic of the stage production to do that. Repeating that transition for (how many times?) so many times would have been ridiculous in a narrative.

Of course we all would have loved to have more character development but that is what the actors are there for - the underlying body language is what we don't see. The actors know where this is going so they would show appropriate body language and voicing to reveal what is there (thinking especially of what goes on between Delphi and Albus and between Ron and Hermione.)  To see this on the stage would be just fabulous and perhaps even better because we will now know where the storyline is heading.  At least for me - I think the play experience would be enhanced rather than spoiled by having already seen the play.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2016, 08:39:23 PM by HealerOne »
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August 03, 2016, 08:37:49 AM
Reply #13

paint it Black

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I am (as I was when I was reading it) trying to appreciate this work for what it is: a play based on a story from Harry Potter's later life.  But really, my sentiments are close to those of Rudius Hagrid.

I confess myself... disappointed.

I had hoped that the reason that this story would only work as a play was for artistic reasons, perhaps because imaginative, non-literal parts of the story were to be presented on the stage, and that this would not gel with the realistic style of the books and films.  Instead, it feels more like a fan fiction to me, and the primary reason it can only work as a play is that the format is plastic enough to allow one to suspend their disbelief when they see it.  As HealerOne said, we HP fans are fussy about our canon!  We are supposed to believe that Scorpius, who has no relationship to Hermione other than that she is Minister for Magic, somehow knows that she hates Divination?  :hmm: (He mentions this when they raid her office for the Time Turner.)  Or that he knows that Lily's patronus was a doe?  (He mentions this when Snape casts his patronus, and Scorpius is surprised to see that it matches Lily's.)  Does the Deathly Hallows book exist in the world of this play, and have all the kids read it?  ::) Also, we are to believe that the daughter of Voldemort and Bellatrix has the grandson of Molly Weasley, her mother's killer, in her hands, and has more of an impulse to help him heal his relationship with his best pal than to wring his throat in revenge?  :shake:

It is exciting to see Harry and the world he inhabits "nineteen years later".  But if JKR had written this story, it would be (nearly) airtight, and a lot more entertaining.  It feels as though she liked the idea of the story that the playwright brought to her, did not want to put forth the mental energy to flesh it out into a novel, and instead agreed to consult on the play.  I almost wish she hadn't.  It would have been nearly as satisfying had she written the oft-rumored "encyclopedia" of the HP world and simply included the facts of Voldemort's child, and Albus' friendship with Scorpius.  At least then we'd get the sense that these ideas came from the source.

... It is the spirit of "The book was better" without the benefit of the book.
Yup.  That too.

Cuppa is discussing Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman.  Please join us!
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August 05, 2016, 12:19:59 AM
Reply #14

wordsaremagic

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Having read the play I can finally say with certainty:  I wish it was a book.  The story feels like it is compressed into what will fit into a stage production, only containing the bare minimum of narrative required to convey a story in between potty breaks.  The fact that I read it from cover to cover in one sitting left me both breathless in the scope of the story, but also disappointed like someone who just ate a 'fun' size chocolate.

One can feel the spirit of Jo's writing is hiding in the story, the interaction between the characters and so on teases at what a novel could have been and I miss it terribly.  It is the spirit of "The book was better" without the benefit of the book.
I had a similar reaction. There's just something missing. Now, it is true that we have to expect a play to be very different simply because of its dramatic rather than 3rd person point-of-view. But there is more missing than a narrative presentation of the inner feelings of the characters (and no doubt much of that is intended to presented through the skill of the actors).
The whole thing seems a bit rushed, as though there were a list of hoops (and rather predictable hoops) to be jumped through.
For atchspe, I would say it all reminds me of when my daughter was very young and taking music lessons. She would play all the notes, but she often rushed through them, to get to the end without missing anything.
The writers seemed to have set down their plot, their outline, then jumped from point to point to get it all in.
Perhaps the story was just too large to get into a single play, even in two parts.
Admittedly, other plays, Macbeth for instance, cover many years of drama, but there are fewer complexities and a more singular purpose.
Traditionally (going back as far as Aristotle's Poetics) plays are supposed to try to maintain certain unites of location and time frame, so that the audience feels as if it were watching something unfold in real time. Obviously a great many great plays violate those ideas, but this work almost ignores them.
The scenes of "chaos" are confusing, and will be even more confusing on a stage than in a movie. A film could pull it off, rather like the Snape Memory scenes in Deathly Hallows. I cannot imagine this on a stage.
So, like Rudius Hagrid, I find myself wishing it were a book.
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