Harry Potter play producer: My father's absence inspired my work


Theatre producer Sonia Friedman has said that her father's absence in her youth helped to inspire her production of Harry Potter And The Cursed Child.

Friedman, who took the idea of the play to Harry Potter author JK Rowling, said that she has experienced rejection due to a lack of a relationship with her father, and that she is constantly searching for ways to learn what it might be like to have a dad.

She said that the play's plot, which sees the orphaned boy wizard in later life as a parent himself, is something she was drawn to.

Friedman told BBC Radio 4's Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs: "My co-producing partner Colin Callender and I produced this together, and we 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 mean, 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."

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, which won a record-breaking nine Olivier Awards this year, was penned by Jack Thorne and based on an original story by Rowling and John Tiffany, and is set 19 years after the final book of the original series.

Of her input, Friedman said: "I feel incredibly privileged and blessed that I can use my emotional background and my experiences to encourage others to put it onto paper, and then the stage."

The multi award-winning West End and Broadway producer, who is currently at the top of The Stage 100's theatre power list, is the daughter of acclaimed Russian violinist Leonard Friedman, who left the family before she was born.

She said that she would meet him around "once a year", and she did not have a strong relationship with him.

Friedman, 52, said: "It's all a bit hazy, but (he left) probably several months before I was born, so as a result I've never really had a dad.

"I never had abandonment issues, but certainly rejection, because you want to form a relationship with your father and my father was very prominent, a high-profile classical musician."

Friedman - the youngest of four children by her father and mother Clair Sims - said: "I had no relationship with him other than he would say hello to me, and maybe pat me on the head or something.

"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. And he eventually did."

Friedman said her last meeting with her father was days before his death.

"He died in '94, and the day or two before he died I had an urge - a need - to see him, and he happily had supper with me and 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."

With her voice breaking, she added: "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 at 11.15am