It has always been my belief that a director needs to know two things: what story are you telling, and
more importantly, why?
The more time I spent with the script of “The Tragedy of Tom Riddle,” the more I realized that it was
a story that I wanted to tell. In many ways, it’s very familiar. If you’ve found yourself on this page, you’re likely a consummate fan of all things Potter, with a reasonable understanding of this story and a fierce pride in your Hogwarts house (yours truly is a Ravenclaw). This script flips the story on its head, drawing attention not to our favorite heroes (Harry himself doesn’t truly arrive in this narrative until the final act), but rather to the man who became Lord Voldemort. It’s a fascinating look at a familiar tale from a new and delicious angle. Plus we get to choreograph and perform epic wizard battles, and who doesn’t want that in their lives?
But this new angle is a dangerous one. Voldemort and his followers are little more than Pureblood supremacists. They look at their family names and their ancestries and think that their blood purity makes them a better class of human. These beliefs drive these characters to commit terrible acts. They push them into a lot of hatred. And these sort of beliefs are a little too familiar to us today, recognizable in the societal pressures and prejudices that many of us face on a daily basis. Perhaps, willfully or not, we perpetuate them ourselves.
But despite this flood of hatred and anger, the thread that runs through this story is love. Snape allies himself with Dumbledore because of his love for Lily Potter. Lily’s loving sacrifice becomes a shield that protects Harry. “Love” is something of a taboo word around Lord Voldemort, but by the end of this play, every Death Eater either learns something about the flaws inherent in a life of hatred, or meets an unfortunate end as a consequence of clinging to such a faulty ideology.
My incomparably brave cast has done incredible work with these characters. They’ve thrown themselves into this script in ways that are bold, authentic, and deeply impactful. I cannot wait to have them share their stories with you this spring. It is my sincere hope that everyone attending this production finds themselves thoroughly entertained, yes, but also reminded that “there is only one antidote to violence: the courage to love.” 1
1. Packer, Tina. Women of Will: Following the Feminine in Shakespeare's Plays. Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.