The Harry Potter sequel play has already generated a lot of controversy solely due to the casting. Black actress Noma Dumezweni will be playing as a black Hermione Granger, which is quite the departure from the character’s depiction in the books. Regardless, author J.K. Rowling has voiced support for Harry Potter And The Curse Child, which is actually focused on Harry Potter’s son, Albus Severus. Dumezweni is also speaking out for the first time since the casting was announced, and she says critics of a black Hermione “lack imagination.”
In a related report by the Inquisitr, Eddie Redmayne may be set to star in the upcoming Harry Potter film, Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them, but it turns out he once was snubbed for a role in the original Harry Potter movies.
The Harry Potter sequel play is being devised directly by J.K. Rowling, and as such it is being considered part of the canon of the overall story. The story will be split up into two parts, and it will premiere at London’s West End Palace Theatre in the summer of 2016.
“The story only exists because the right group of people came together with a brilliant idea about how to present Harry Potter on stage,” Rowling said, according to the Independent. “I’m confident that when audiences see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child they will understand why we chose to tell this story in this way.”
Although Hermione Granger does play a role, the story largely focues on Albus Severus, the middle child of Harry and Ginny who briefly made an appearance at the end of the last movie. The full synopsis for the story explains the backdrop.
“It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”
Fans have not been too focused on the literary darkness of the story. Instead, they have been obsessed with the literal darkness of Noma Dumezweni’s skin. Some fans pointed out that the last name Granger is an old English name, so it would not make sense for a black woman with two black parents to have that name. In addition, some fans dug up proof that the original books described Hermione as white.
Don’t give a dam about Hermione ethnicity. BUT for all those saying her ethnicity was never mentioned in the books.. pic.twitter.com/2nPWwCweWZ
— Danny Allen (@DannyAllenUK) December 21, 2015
Watson also used Twitter to chime in on the controversy over black Hermione, declaring, “Can’t wait to see Noma Dumezweni as Hermione on stage this year.” Rowling, for her part, has done a little bit of retroactive editing, and has declared that a black Hermione is possible based upon what was written.
Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione???? https://t.co/5fKX4InjTH
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 21, 2015
In fact, Buzzfeed once did a look at Hermione Granger’s description in the books compared to the movies, and they noted that Emma Watson seemed slightly off from what was described. The biggest notable difference was that Hermione was noted as having “lots of bushy brown hair, and rather large front teeth.” The story even makes a point about the teeth, since Malfoy insults the “long-molared Mudblood,” and subsequently Hermione asks Madame Pomfrey to shrink her teeth for the Yule Ball. She also smoothed out her frizzy hair with Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion.
— Harry Potter Play (@HPPlayLDN) December 21, 2015
During this past month, Dumezweni has largely been silent, but now she is speaking out against the critics. She told the Evening Standard she had encountered “unconscious prejudice” in the past when seeking roles, but this was the first time anyone questioned her ability based upon skin color alone.
“It stems from ignorance. They don’t want to be a part of the creative act. To say it’s not as it was intended is so unimaginative,” she said. “I don’t think they understand how theatre works. We’re here to heal you, make you smile and whisk you away. The only question we should ask is ‘Are they good?’ I’ve met great actors black and white and I’ve met bad actors black and white.”
What do you think?
[Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images]