|Photo from Vanity Fair|
This past week, The Palace Theater in London released a slew of photos from their upcoming production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The show stars Jamie Parker as Harry Potter, Paul Thornley as Ron Weasley, and, controversially for some, non-white actress Noma Dumezweni as Hermione Granger. Author J.K. Rowling has been supportive of this casting from the start but, in a recent interview, went in depth about the ugly backlash she saw.
“With my experience of social media, I thought that idiots were going to idiot,” Rowling told the Observer “But what can you say? That’s the way the world is. Noma was chosen because she was the best actress for the job.” Even if Dumezweni is unknown to many Americans, her British stage bonafides are unassailable. She has an impressive string of stage credits to her name and notably won the Olivier award in 2006 for her role in Raisin in the Sun. In November 2015, after she stepped into the titular role vacated by Kim Cattrall just a few days before press reviews, Dumezweni’s performance in Linda received a rave from The Telegraph: “If they can bottle and mass-produce whatever it is that Noma Dumezweni has got then, please, I want to order a life-time’s supply.”
So, yes, Dumezweni is the best actress for the job. Rowling continued, “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.”
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child broke records by selling 175,000 tickets in 24 hours and, outside of Broadway’s Hamilton, is the hottest theatrical event of 2016.
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Photo and text from Vanity Fair