What is SALLY COTTER AND THE CENSORED STONE?
It is a stage play written by Dean O’Carroll (that’s me) and published by Playscripts, Inc. The play is a parody of the Harry Potter books.
What is it about?
Sally is a young girl who falls asleep while reading a book about a certain boy wizard. She dreams she is herself a sorceress and a student at a school for magic. She meets many characters who might ring a bell with Potter fans, and has a fairly ridiculous adventure. Sally gets through it all with help from her wits, her friends, and her knowledge of the books she was reading before she dozed off.
Can I read it?
Sure! You can buy a copy from the Playscripts website, or read ALMOST all of it for free here.
Can my school or theatre stage a production of this play?
Yes you can. You will need to make arrangements through Playscripts, Inc.
Is the play difficult to stage?
No. This play can be put on with minimal sets and lighting. If you have the means to build an elaborate “Frogbull Castle” set, great! If not, basic tables and chairs will take you far. Props and costumes are similarly flexible.
How many actors will I need?
The script calls for four or five male actors, four female actors, and there is one character who may be played by either an actor or an actress. There is also a chorus, which could be 5-20 people, or more. I envision the chorus being played by performers who are younger than the actors playing the principals, but that’s not a hard and fast rule.
Do I have to pay to produce it? Even if I’m not charging admission?
Yes. Playscripts charges you $75 per performance of the play. That’s how they and I make a living.
Is the play funny?
Gosh, I hope so!
Is this a parody of the whole Potter series, or just the first book?
I parody elements of the first and second Potter books in this play.
What does it mean that this is a parody?
Merriam-Webster defines a parody as “a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule.”
Ridicule? That sounds mean!
SALLY COTTER falls much more on the “comic effect” side of things. The tone is very gentle. I do make fun of certain aspects of the Harry Potter books – for instance, I always thought Quidditch was a little silly, so my version, “Quizzicalish,” is truly ridiculous – but in general it’s just a light ribbing, done without malice.
Do you hate Harry Potter?
No! I love the Potter books! I’ve read them all multiple times. I’m honestly a huge fan of J.K. Rowling’s work. I think she has created a vibrant fantasy world and introduced millions of children to the power of reading. In fact, if you read SALLY COTTER, you’ll see just how great and powerful I think the Potter books are.
So why did you write this play?
Well, mostly, I just thought it would be fun. To be a little more high-minded about it, I have always wanted to see Harry Potter on stage. I’m sure at some point we’ll see a lavish Broadway or West End play based on the books. It’ll cost millions and make billions. But shouldn’t there be something small-scale that can be produced by schools and small theatres? Kids have been pretending to be Harry and company in their backyards for a decade now. Wouldn’t it be great if they got to “play Harry Potter” on stage, too? Well, since I can’t have the rights to adapt the real books, isn’t this the next best thing? So, I figured, let’s have a good time, poke a little fun, and bring a Potterlike world to the stage for everyone to enjoy.
Who are you, by the way?
I’ve been writing plays for children for over a decade now. My plays for children and adults have been produced around the country. I’ve also written for television, newspapers, and stand-up comedians. I’m a regular contributor to the Inside the Magic Podcast under the name “That Anonymous Guy.” Yeah, clever pseudonym, I know.
Who are some of the characters in the play?
Sally Cotter … Our heroine. She dreams this world, after falling asleep while reading a popular book series. While she knows this is a dream, she still cares about it passionately.
Dave … Sally’s best friend. From a big family. An expert at Sorcerer’s Scrabble.
Harmonica … Sally’s other best friend. Her parents were MonkeySunkles (non-magical humans). She is very smart and reads a lot of books, as she constantly reminds everyone.
Professor Albatross Underdrawers … The headmaster at Frogbull Academy of Sorcery, he is a wise, white-bearded old sorcerer. He and Sally seem to be the only people aware of how silly this all is.
Lord Murderdeath … The most evil sorcerer in the world – just look at that name! Mysteriously vanished while trying to kill Sally as a baby.
Professor Shiftia Shape … She teaches a class in Witch’s Brews and seems to hate Sally. Some people think she might be secretly evil, and she enjoys the ambiguity of it all.
Ruebenon Ryebread … The gameskeeper at Frogbull. Big, friendly, and goofy, he’s lately been experimenting with teaching beetles to play rock music. Speaks with an accent that even he can’t identify.
Ursa Malaise … Another student at Frogbull. She’s in Slymything House (while Sally, Dave, and Harmonica are in Goodydrops House), and looks down her nose at people she thinks are beneath her.
Ed … Another student. Who’s he a parody of? Well, you’ll have to read the play.
The Censor … This character keeps popping into the play to insist on changes to make it more commercial.
Hey, you changed _______ into a woman! Why?
In my experience, there are more girls and women interested in working in the theatre than boys and men. So I wanted this play to be at least balanced gender-wise, if not tipping the scales towards female characters. It’s another nice thing about parody -- since these aren’t the real characters I can make them older or younger, taller or shorter. I can change their race, nationality, gender, anything, as long as it’s funny.
My favorite characters in the books are __________. How come there aren’t parodies of them in this play?
There just isn’t time. I would love to have a parody version of every character and every plot element, but the play would be too long and the whole cast wouldn’t fit on stage for the curtain call.
There are seven Potter books. Will there be seven Sally Cotter plays?
That seems a bit much. I would love to write a sequel if the play is popular. Maybe this could be a three-play trilogy, but probably not more than that.
Does J.K. Rowling know you’re doing this?
Not as far as I know, but I’d be happy to send her a copy.
Are you worried she’ll be angry?
I hope she won’t be. If she read it, she could see this is a loving parody, and it says very nice things about her work.
Are you worried you’ll get sued, like that Harry Potter Lexicon guy?
No especially. The issue with the Harry Potter Lexicon case was that it just described and defined things from the Potter Universe without adding any critique or interpretation. This play definitely offers some critique and interpretation of the works it parodies, and the phenomenon of their popularity. And anyway, parodies are protected under copyright law.
I have some more questions. How can I get them to you?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to answer them. Maybe I’ll even add them to this FAQ.