Producer’s childhood helped ‘inspire’ Harry Potter play – BBC News

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The theatre producer behind the hit Harry Potter play has revealed her own childhood experiences of having an absent father helped inspire its story.

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child came about after Sonia Friedman approached author JK Rowling and portrays the orphaned wizard as a parent himself.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Friedman said she was “very drawn to the notion of Harry as a dad”.

She added she was “always looking for stories that might help me understand”.

Friedman, 52, said she had experienced rejection due to a lack of a relationship with her father – the acclaimed Russian violinist Leonard Friedman, who left her mother before she was born.

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She told Desert Island Discs presenter Kirsty Young: “I will never understand what it would be like to have a dad, and so I’m always looking for stories that might help me understand.”

Friedman this year topped the Stage 100 list of the UK’s most influential people in performing arts while Harry Potter And The Cursed Child won a record-breaking nine Olivier Awards.

The play was written by Jack Thorne after Rowling gave Friedman her approval to create a theatre production.

Based on an original story by Rowling and John Tiffany, it is set 19 years after the final novel of the seven-book series.

Friedman said she and her co-producer, Colin Callender, “were very drawn to the notion of Harry as a dad given that he hadn’t had parents of his own, and Jo [Rowling] loved that idea”.

She said: “I feel incredibly privileged and blessed that I can use my emotional background and my experiences to encourage others to put it on to paper, and then the stage.”

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Image caption Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is currently being staged in London and New York

On her own relationship with her father, Friedman said that she would meet him around “once a year” as a child.

She said: “I never had abandonment issues, but certainly rejection”.

She added: “I never got a birthday present from him, I never got a Christmas present from him, and I don’t blame him.

“I know that as a kid he had a very difficult life. His parents pushed him to be an extraordinary musician and he was told to put the music first, to put the art first.”

But Friedman said she had a “need” to see her father shortly before his death in 1994.

“At the end of the supper he turned to me and said, ‘Sonia, I’m very proud of you’,” she said.

“Those were the last words he ever said to me. He never said I love you to me, but he did say I’m proud of you.”

Desert Island Discs is on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday 4 June at 11:15 BST or listen later on iPlayer

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