Around this time last month, wizards and muggles alike celebrated the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (published in America as Sorcerer’s Stone a year later). This Monday marks the 26th anniversary of Harry meeting Hagrid and learning he was a wizard. In honor of the boy who lived, many groups are celebrating this weekend with their own Potter-themed events. If you are a Potter fan, be sure to look in your area for some of these festivals. If there are none, or you are more of a muggle than you wish to admit, here are a few ways to learn and celebrate the wizarding world.
Learn About the Fandom
Since the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fandom has been large and nevertheless expanded monthly, even today grabbing new readers who are unfamiliar with the stories. What makes up Harry Potter fandom though? The documentary We are Wizards shows both views – fans and the work they do to show their excitement, and those who believe the texts are evil. Concentrating on Melissa Anelli and the Leaky Cauldron, the documentary looks at how the fandom grew in the years following the 6th book, and the different ways fans choose to celebrate, including cosplay, animation, fanfic, music, and even websites. Like all good documentaries however, this one shows the other side, interviewing Christian film producer Caryl Matrisciana about her views on the evil the series promotes, as well as the evil Warner Brothers regularly sprung on innocent fans who wished to share their passion.
Still interested in the history of the Harry Potter fandom? Check out Melissa Anelli’s book Harry, History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon. Anelli looks at audiences from the time of the original book’s release, detailing how she came into the fandom and started The Leaky Cauldron website, which led to her chance to meet her idol J.K. Rowling several times. In addition, she discusses conventions, television, music groups, and dangers of the fandom in its early days leading up to the year after the final book’s release.
There is a plethora of bands and musicians who perform music about Harry, Hermione, Ron, and the rest of the wizarding world. While many do not continue to perform or tour, their music is still available many places on the web, especially on iTunes and Amazon. One way to jump into the wizard rock community is to watch Megan and Mallory Schuyler’s 2008 Wizard Rockumentary, in which they interview many of the original wizard rock bands not long after they first began performing. Bands such as Harry and the Potters, Draco and the Malfoys, the Whomping Willows, the Remus Lupins, Snidget, and even the Moaning Myrtles discuss why they started writing and playing wizard rock and how they were connected to the Harry Potter fandom. While not current, as many of the people shown in this film have retired from music and moved onto new projects as adults, this is an excellent look at the early days of wizard rock and a checklist for music hunting. I highly recommend Amy Snow (and her wizard rock band Romilda Vane and the Chocolate Cauldrons) and the Remus Lupins, both of whom are included in my Christmas playlist every year.
He’s Harry Freakin’ Potter!
In 2009 a small independent theater group called Starkid posted videos from their stage production of A Very Potter Musical. Starring Darren Criss (yes, the one from Glee) as Harry, Joey Richter as Ron, Lauren Lopez as Draco, and more of a large cast, this fan project combined two giant fandoms – Potter and musicals – and put together the most non-canonical fanfic well-known by now to the entire community and beyond. Draco just wants to be friends with Harry, has Crabbe & Goyle record Wizards of Waverly Place for him, and would rather transfer to the other wizarding school on Mars. Harry is popular and is rather closed-minded as a result. Ron and Harry are friends through their mutual love of Red Vines. And Snape is still evil.
Totaling 3 shows (Musical, Sequel, and Senior Year) the story and songs assembled do more than just reiterate Rowling’s story. They blend the wizarding world with American pop culture, mocking not only the characters but the world itself. What’s worse than tearing down Harry’s parents’ statue? Putting up a statue of Spiderman – Andrew Garfield though, not Toby Maguire. To make these shows even better, the finale show, recorded live at Leaky Con, features Evanna Lynch as Luna, opening the show with Neville. All 3 musicals, as well as other productions, are available on Starkid’s YouTube channel.
So why not put your wand in the air and cast Periculum to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this wizarding classic!