History Boys actor Jamie Parker will play the world’s favourite wizard, while Dodge’s Paul Thornley has been cast as Ron Weasley. However it’s the actress playing Hermione Weasley (née Granger) in the new Harry Potter production who has caused the biggest fuss, because she looks pretty different to the child version of Hermione we’re all so familiar with from the movies.
Olivier Award-winning actress Noma Dumezweni is the first black woman to take on the role of the iconic witch and while there has, depressingly, been negativity from some people on social media many, many others have expressed their excitement at the announcement.
Omg they cast a black woman as Hermione in the sequel play excuse me while I squee and figure out how to get tickets pic.twitter.com/DvAop2SePq
— kamilah taylor ⚡️ (@kamilah) December 20, 2015
Dumezweni recently appeared in Penelope Skinner’s hit play Linda at the Royal Court and Doctor Who fans will recognise her as UNIT Captain Erisa Magambo.
Forgetting about Emma Watson for a moment, it’s worth noting that in the Harry Potter books Hermione is often mainly described by her bushy brown hair and large teeth and her skin colour isn’t explicitly specified by Rowling — in fact, the only reference to her skin colour is in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:
“They were there, both of them, sitting outside Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor — Ron looking incredibly freckly, Hermione very brown, both waving frantically at him.”
And this was exactly the point made by Rowling herself on Twitter this morning.
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
To enforce the point, she also retweeted an image of amazing fanarts portraying Hermione as a black woman.
Some of my favourite Hermione fanarts next to our new Hermione! pic.twitter.com/80bIkcLBMJ
— alice (@alwaysdragxns) December 20, 2015
“I’m so excited with the choice of casting for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” said J.K. Rowling on Pottermore. “I can’t wait to see Jamie, Noma and Paul bring the adult Harry, Hermione and Ron to life on stage next summer.”
The last time readers and moviegoers saw Harry, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, he was waving off his children at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Eighteen years later, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the next chapter in Harry’s story, in which he is now an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father-of-three. His youngest son Albus has inherited Harry’s wizardry skills, a legacy he never wanted. The play’s synopsis says: “As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”
The play, written by J.K. Rowling along with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, will be staged in two parts due to the “epic nature of the story.”