POST: 'Puffs' - Proud to be a Puff
What's it about?
Puffs is a play that tells the story of the Harry Potter books (more or less), but from the perspective of the Hufflepuff house (or Puffs, as they are referred to in the play for copyright reasons).
*Harry, Ron, and Hermione are all background characters.
One of the biggest fandoms I subscribe to is the Harry Potter fandom. Both the books and the films played an enormous role in my childhood. I had a Harry Potter themed 7th birthday party where all of my friends and I went to the local movie theater to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. When I was 8, I dressed up as Hermione for Halloween. And I'm pretty sure Daniel Radcliffe was one of my earliest childhood crushes. I am happy to say that the wizarding world remains an equally large part of my adulthood. I start my day drinking tea out of a cauldron mug that has the Hogwarts crest on it so I have a little magic infused into every day. My connection to this world, its characters, and their stories, is not something I'll ever grow out of.
While I was brought up going to and loving the Harry Potter movies, it wasn't until the summer between my Junior and Senior year of high school that I read all of the books back to back for the first time ever and I got properly obsessed. I happily attended my first Quidditch World Cup on Randall's Island with my friends, and then we went on to found the Harry Potter club at our high school, where I would regularly win all of our trivia competitions.
Mind you, I was operating under the impression this entire time that I was a Gryffindor. And then came Pottermore and my inevitable sorting into one of the Hogwarts houses. I was hoping it'd be Gryffindor or at least Ravenclaw, but nothing could prepare me for the initial disappointment that was getting sorted into Hufflepuff. It just didn't compute. I was brave...right? I didn't vanquish evil wizards, but I was an adventurous eater, had hopped turnstiles before, and I liked riding on roller coasters. That counted, didn't it? And besides, the heroes of the Harry Potter world all came from Gryffindor! What defining characteristics did a Hufflepuff have? Well, according to Pottermore, "Hufflepuffs value[d] hard work, patience, loyalty, and fair play." I knew those were far from negative values, only, I always felt that Hufflepuff was kind of the laughingstock of the wizarding world - they were certainly easy targets given how nice they all were. It was something I was almost embarrassed to be a part of.
So...even though I knew deep down I was a Hufflepuff, I refused to admit it. I even attended my first Potter Con dressed up as a Gryffindor.
But for the past year or so, I have been owning up to my true identity as far as the wizarding world is concerned. For this reason, I felt it was appropriate for me to attend a play that centered on Hufflepuffs, because they deserved acknowledgement too. I brought my best friend, James (pictured below), who was a total Gryffindor, even according to Pottermore. I was curious to see how he would appreciate a show that didn't put Gryffindors (or Braves, as they are referred to in the show) in the spotlight.
The theatre was super tiny, meaning that even though James and I were in basically the last row, we were still in fairly close proximity to the stage. I was impressed at how well the cast got away with never mentioning Hogwarts or the house names. It was clear that they were limited by copyright laws, but I still never felt like I was watching anything other than a play that took place in the wizarding world J.K. Rowling imagined.
It was wonderful to be sat among people who got all of the same references I did. These were my people, fellow Potterheads, and it was like we were all gathered in the Hufflepuff common room together. The Puffs certainly had a lot about them that was easy to poke fun at. They were portrayed on stage as devoted to plants, overly emotional, clueless, lacking any self confidence, and even cowardly at times, but it was like we were all in on the joke, or in this case, jokes.
One particular scene, where a Puff gruffly spoke at hilarious length about his chronic explosive diarrhea, had me laughing so hard I could barely hold myself up. Even thinking about it now makes me smirk.
I was glad to hear that James wasn't too much of a Gryffindor to enjoy a show about Puffs. He thought that "the energy felt a little too high," at first, "but once we got better introduced to the characters, everything leveled out nicely." He was "so engrossed in the story that" he "almost [didn't] realize the jokes [were] hurtling at [him]." In his opinion, Puffs was "the perfect blend of new and nostalgia, with the original story perfectly woven into this one, with great new characters and hilarious interpretations of old ones. By the halfway point [he] was laughing nonstop, and yet despite all the sarcasm and parody," he believed [Puffs] "managed to tie everything together with just the right amount of sincerity."
I decided there was no use being bummed at being a Hufflepuff. People loved to hate us, but we loved them anyway because it was in our nature. And plus, there were plenty of Hufflepuffs who went on to do great things (Nymphadora Lupin, Cedric Diggory, and Newt Scamander, to name a few).
* Newt Scamander even has his own series of films based on his adventures, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and you can bet your ass that I will see all of them in addition to reading the screenplays.
It was better to embrace the Puff in me than to push it away. I left the theatre amused at what had just taken place on stage, but more than that, I was proud to be a Puff.