Harry Potter and the Cursed Child director reveals his connection with JK Rowling before she was famous

John Tiffany has been speaking about the amazing coincidence that led to the upcoming stage play

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Edinburgh, the world’s first UNESCO city of literature and capital of the fictional land of Scotland, was the spiritual birthplace of Harry Potter. There are at least five cafes dotted around the city centre that have plaques up claiming ‘JK Rowling wrote here’, and most Edinburgers have a story about encountering the author, pre-fame.

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One such fan is John Tiffany, director of the upcoming stage show Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, who has revealed he used to bump into the author two decades ago back when he worked for the Traverse theatre.

“I first met Jo years ago when we didn’t know who each other was,” he told the Daily Record. “I had just started at the Traverse in Edinburgh, and now and again I would see a woman with a pram writing in longhand in the café. 

“We knew each other to nod at. I’d be having meetings with writers and actors and I’d see her. Eventually we’d say hello to each other and a year later – bam!”

Such is the magic of Edinburgh. 

Tiffany, who previously made the award-winning Black Watch, also nailed down some aspects of the play. As well as reiterating that it will not be a prequel, he said he would be “very surprised” if the movie’s cast returned to their roles, stating “the last thing they would want to do is go back to something they did ten years ago.” Indeed, Tiffany implied it was unlikely a “hot Hollywood actor” would be playing Harry: “We’ve been working with actors since the beginning of this year, but the characters are the stars of this.” 

Tiffany went on to pay tribute to the boy wizard’s contribution to child literacy: “A lot of kids learned to read, or think they learned to read, because of Harry Potter….Jo would never take the credit for being responsible for a huge amount of literacy, but she should.”

This – along with comments about how the appeal of Harry Potter is “a young boy trying to deal with the death of his parents” – could support this writer’s personal theory that the play will be a metanarrative about Harry Potter as a cultural phenomenon, helping fans through difficult times.

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Now, that is pure speculation on my part, but this is Edinburgh we’re talking about here. Anything is possible.