The casting has been announced for the three main parts in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and it's friggin' awesome.
Harry, Ron and Hermione will be played by Jamie Parker, Paul Thornley and Noma Dumezweni, and the sight of them in this picture makes me EXTREMELY OVEREXCITED. The story will pick up 19 years after the books ended, and open at the Palace Theatre in July 2016.
I think it's brilliant that the three principle actors have stage blood thick in their veins: Jamie Parker was from the original History Boys cast, and Paul Thornley starred in the National Theatre's ridiculously successful London Road. Olivier award-winning Noma Dumezweni recently took over from Kim Cattrall when she had to drop out of Linda at the Royal Court 10 days before press night - and she smashed it.
But not everyone is as happy as I am. There have been some comments online that a black woman should not have been cast in the role of Hermione. Why? They say that Hermione was white, and she should be played by a white actress.
Now I know what it's like when they cast your favourite character and it's just not the way you pictured them. (For me, Anne Hathaway EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.)
But objecting to Dumezweni's casting based on the colour of her skin is both absurd and offensive.
To begin with, the books don't specify Hermione's race. They say she has "lots of big bushy hair, and rather large front teeth," but nowhere does it specify that she was white. And I think you'll recall from the films that Emma Watson's hair was pretty non-bushy and her teeth were very nice.
On another basic level, it should have been clear to most people that the play was not going to be the film. It was not going to be the same actors playing the roles, and when they cast them, they probably didn't base their decisions on how much the actors looked like the stars of the film. Because that would be silly. I mean, imagine if they'd gone "Noma Dumezweni is far and away the best person for this role but she looks NOTHING like Emma Watson. Back to the drawing board!" How far do we want to take this literalism? Are you annoyed that the role of JK Rowling in this process is being played by Jack Thorne?
Unless a role specifically requires someone to be a certain ethnicity, the colour of their skin shouldn't matter. See a human, not a pigment. But at the same time, it completely does matter, because there is still a major problem with diversity in the arts and culture.
As recently as August this year, The Rose Theatre Kingston were criticised by Equity for their War of the Roses, which filled a whopping cast of 22 with only white, able-bodied actors.
But these things will never change until those with the power to make the decisions make it happen. I think if JK Rowling, the person who created Hermione, says she doesn't have to be played by a white person, we can assume Hermione does not have to be white.
Because actually, it's not okay that being white is still regarded as the 'default race'. What does it say about the narrowness of our cultural imagination that our automatic assumption is that a character is white?
Of course, we're used to seeing Hermione as white on film, but when the book is not prescriptive about race why is it so difficult for there to be fluidity in the way we think of her?
They haven't cast a black Hermione, they've cast a Hermione. If you can't see that you're not looking properly.