Drama · Fantasy · Fiction · In the Library · Jean R

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child | by Jack Thorne

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two by Jack Thorne
(Arthur A. Levine Books, 2016, 327 pages)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play script based on an original story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne. According to the back of the book jacket, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the 8th story and takes place 19 years later. The story focuses on Harry Potter’s son, Albus Severus Potter, and Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius Malfoy. Albus and Scorpius are best friends who feel the pressure of being the sons of Harry and Draco. They share an adventure that involves time travel, danger, and characters from the earlier Harry Potter books.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tells an interesting story. It is a short read. It is not the lengthy, description filled novel that we know from the first 7 books. As I was reading, I had to remind myself that this is a play. It probably can’t stand alone if you didn’t read at least some of the earlier books. I’m glad that I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It would be fun to see the play.

Andrew S · Drama · Fiction · In the Library

Ashes to Ashes | by Harold Pinter

Ashes to Ashes by Harold Pinter
(Grove Press, 1996, 85 pages)

This one act play by Harold Pinter is sparse and startling. It drops us into the middle of a disturbing conversation between Devlin and Rebecca (presumably husband and wife) in the living room of a country home. It begins as an angry interrogation of Rebecca about a former lover. Rebecca describes violently abusive encounters. As Devlin pushes for more information, the conversation takes strange and dark turns. Devlin does not get the answers he wants, and, as a reader, I could feel his frustration as I tried to make sense of Rebecca’s non sequitur responses.

The play was published in 1996, and the title page says that the time is “Now.” However, the traumas that Rebecca relives in their conversation begin to sound like the stories of a Holocaust survivor. This brings up all kinds of questions: Is Rebecca sane? Is the mysterious figure she describes real? Is there something more going on here than a recounting of personal history?  The play is a strange mix of deeply personal themes and broader themes that appear to speak to the traumas of European history.

The play could be performed in under an hour, and it can be read in less. That said, it isn’t an easy read. The drama and tension of the relationship between these two characters is immediately gripping – but trying to figure out just what this drama consists of is far from simple.

Award Winner · Drama · Fiction · In the Library · Julia P

Wit | by Margaret Edson


Wit by Margaret Edson
(Faber & Faber, 1999, 85 pages)

Andrew read this play last year and wrote a great summary and review which I suggest you check out for an overview.

I picked up Wit after hearing Jess Walter talk about the play on his podcast with Sherman Alexie (A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment). Based on his recommendation and knowing how much Andrew enjoyed it I grabbed it off the shelf. This slim book has a lot of heft and I’m eager to check out the HBO performance with Emma Thompson because I know seeing the play will add a different dimension to my experience with the work.

Definitely a worthwhile read that surprises you with its lingering impact.

Drama · Fiction · In the Library · Quick Read! · SCC Book Club · Theresa F

Clybourne Park | by Bruce Norris

Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris
(Faber and Faber, 2011, 210 pages)

The idea behind Clybourne Park is really interesting and well done. Taking the original play, Raisin in the Sun, and then flipping the script so to speak to examine the issues of housing segregation and discrimination and then following that into the present to see how things have changed and how they haven’t changed at all was very innovative. I didn’t find the dialogue to be that innovative, though. So while the idea of the play is great I thought the execution was lacking.

You can also check out the reviews posted by Heather and Julia.

Award Winner · Drama · Fiction · Heather D · In the Library · Quick Read! · SCC Book Club

Clybourne Park | by Bruce Norris

Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris
(Faber and Faber, 2011, 210 pages)

Typically when reading a good novel the characters are well developed and the reader can feel as though they (the reader) are a part of story. For me it was difficult to become close to any of the characters in this play. I found myself continuously having to go back through the pages to try and figure out who was who.

This was the first time I have voluntarily picked up a play to read. I honestly have to say that I’m glad that I took the time to venture out of my comfort zone. It brought up some true-to-life controversial issues and I found it interesting see how it all ‘played’ out. I think I will stick with going and watching a live play performance as opposed to reading them.

You can also check out Julia’s review of Clybourne Park to see what she thought and to get a quick summary of the play.

Award Winner · Drama · Fiction · In the Library · Julia P · Quick Read! · SCC Book Club

Clybourne Park | by Bruce Norris

Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris
(Faber and Faber, 2011, 210 pages)

Today was the first Between the Covers book club discussion for the Fall 2015 semester and Clybourne Park was the title we talked about. This was the first time Between the Covers read a play and it made for a unique reading experience. Like most people, the only real experience I have with reading plays is in the classroom setting. It’s not a genre I think people frequently pick up because, by it’s very nature, a play is meant to be seen as a performance. That being said, I still enjoyed the experience of reading this piece by Norris.

Clybourne Park is something of a follow-up to Lorraine Hansberry’s play, A Raisin in the Sun. The play is set in two acts and each act is set at a specific time. Act 1 is set in 1959 and Act 2 takes place in 2009. Act 1 is set in the home of a couple who is getting ready to move and whose house has been sold (unbeknownst to them) to a black family – the first one in the Clybourne Park neighborhood. This brings up some issues with members in their community who don’t want to see this “change” in the neighborhood take place.

Act 2 is set in the same home 50 years later and it becomes clear that the demographics of the neighborhood have changed. Clybourne Park is now predominantly black. There is a white couple looking at purchasing the original house, tearing it down, and building a new one in its place. This brings a new set of issues that still follow racial lines – now what’s at play is the beginnings of gentrifying the neighborhood.

Clybourne Park brought up a lot of issues that I think would make for some great discussions. While it dealt with serious topics, there were still moments of humor and a few times when my jaw dropped. The play won the Pulitzer Prize as well as a Tony Award. If you haven’t read a play before (or since you were a student somewhere) I recommend giving it a shot and seeing how you feel about it. Some people find it harder to get into, but I felt like it lent a different sense of immediacy to my reading experience. I enjoyed it.

I’d definitely recommend going to see the Center Stage performance on campus. They’ll be performing the play September 30-October 4. Tickets are free for SCC students with an ID!