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Interview: Markus Schöttl of HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD at Mehr! Theater Am Großmarkt

Becoming Harry Potter!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child


When this interview got posted for the first time, Hamburg has been only a few weeks afar from the German Opening Night of J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Life sometimes goes mysterious ways, the C-Virus forced the world to take a break, but now, the theatres are back and so is Markus Schöttl, Hamburgs Harry Potter. Enjoy the interview we did before everything got canceled. Dive into the wizarding world of Harry Potter.

*The following article was released in fall 2020, a couple of weeks before the canceled Opening Night.*

It's busy at the Mehr! Theater in Hamburg these days. The German-speaking premiere of J.K. Rowling's epic Masterpiece is just around the corner. Rehearsals are in full swing, the level of excitement is growing as everybody can't wait to see how HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD is going to be live on stage. "The Chosen One", Austrias Markus Schöttl, who will be Harry Potter in Hamburg found some time during rehearsals to talk with us about his journey into the Wizarding World of J.K. Rowling.

BWW.: The magic is real at Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It's not that long until you got to present the show in front of an Audience! How excited are you right now?

Markus Schöttl: I couldn't be more excited! We've been rehearsing now for more than 3 months, have explored our characters and their possibilities, brought it together with lots of flabbergasting magic, movement and light on this magnificent stage in this newly built theatre at the Großmarkt of Hamburg and only the last missing ingredients is waiting to be added: our audience!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

BWW.: Is it true that you haven't read any of J.K. Rowling's books before you auditioned for the part?

MS.: Many of the real Potterheads, as hardcore fans call themselves with a wink, might be outraged to hear that but what's the point of denial: guilty in all seven cases! BUT I've started reading as soon as I got the offer and haven't regretted a single page...

BWW.: Apart from your acting skills, the fact that you haven't been familiar with the material might have been an asset. Many of us grew up with the likes of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and all the others. People are expecting something familiar even if they all are Grown Ups now. Are you allowed to bring some fresh ideas into the rehearsal process, to add something special, a side of Harry Potter no one expected to see?

MS.: I think, like all things in life, that lies probably in the eye of the beholder: of course, MY Harry doesn't have a limp, wear contact lenses, or has lost his fear of Dementors. But on our journey throughout the complex mindset of our characters we've been given a lot of freedom, inspiration, and the opportunity to explore their vast psychological landscapes and have been encouraged to leave our tracks on it. This might be perceptible more or less, depending on how familiar our viewers are with the source material. In a way, the German version of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is also a kind of world premiere and a new take on the story as our language brings new challenges and scopes to the story and for that reason, the characters might sound and act as never heard or seen before. As far as I can tell I've taken a big portion of my own experiences, inner fights, and fears to bring Harry to life and guide him through his maze of traumatic events, painful memories, and self-denial.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

BWW.: The show is split into 2 Parts. On some days you have to play both of them in a row. It's like doing a Marathon. How did you prepare yourself for such an intensive period?

MS.: We're still in preparation to meet up to the production timescales and stay healthy and fully motivated at the same time.

First of all: good nutrition, enough sleep, and a well-trained body are the basics. For the latter, we are instructed daily since the start of rehearsals by our lovely team of movement directors. To start your day with a one-hour workout leaves its marks and brings you in shape. Honestly, it took some time to get used to it but I feel the benefits are not only for work-life. I haven't seen a lot of Hamburg so far but what might maintain our spiritual health is a good balance to our shows, staying inspired throughout arts, nature, and friends!

BWW.: The show is an outstanding spectacle. Something no one has ever done before On Stage. It's hard to imagine, leaving the theatre after Part 1 and coming back for Part 2 the other day. Sounds like an exciting experience for the Audience but it must be a challenge for you, keeping the energy on such an intense level?

MS.: I am so looking forward to this experience, so far I really can just guess what kind of challenge stands in front of us. It's not only picking up the thread, it's also finding sleep in the night in between and developing some sort of ritual to end the day positively without having reached a desirable catharsis.

BWW.: People expected another HARRY POTTER movie but J.K. Rowling took everyone by surprise when she announced that there will be a play instead of a new movie. Should The Cursed Child be transferred to the Big Screen someday?

MS.: Who am I to decide that? As a fan of original art in its pure form and a skeptic of adaptions, I think the artistic trio had their reason to lead these iconic characters from the screen onto the stage where they live on and can become more concrete and some sort of more than real: human. Although theatre lacks sometimes the subtlety of a movie-close-up it has its possibilities and the power of helping us to be in the moment and create a breathtaking intimacy that keeps it so special and unique. To meet these beloved protagonists, now grown up and with one foot in life much closer to those of many visitors with tiresome career choices, parenting, and midlife-crisis than to the magic community with spells, enchantment, and dark forces, it gives not just the opportunity to share an exceptional experience with 2500 other patrons in real-time but also to reflect on our own lives and start connecting the wizarding world with the muggle-universe. A mirror is not too pitiless and explicit so we still can withstand its reflection and still be encouraged to see our fates and flaws in the life of others.

BWW.: Apart from the rehearsals, have you got some time to explore the beautiful city of Hamburg?

MS.: I have been to some tourist places, like Landungsbrücken, Reeperbahn and the Michl but my personal own Hamburg will have to wait until we are through opening night.

BWW.: Can you give our readers a short description of how you see the character of Harry Potter?

MS.: I think he's the perfect case for every therapist: a successful, altruistic, and loving father with a happy marriage, a unique career, fame, reputation, and a strong social background. But the past has left its traces and the trauma is deep. He's a bit like Oedipus, who is restlessly awaiting the next adventure and willing to solve every riddle. When finding out that your biggest enemy, the solution to the riddle might be you and that it's probably time to become an adult when all you are defined by is your childhood, a question sticks out most: how do you let go and most importantly: what?

Thank you for your time, we can't wait to explore the magical world.

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child is now in Previews and will celebrate its Opening Night on December the 5th, at the refurbished Mehr! Theater at the Großmarkt in Hamburg. This will be the first non-English speaking production in the show's history. Hamburg is excited about this spectacular theatre experience.

Photo credit: ©Jens Hauer

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