Saddle up your dragons, grab your shaming bell, and cross your fingers for an alternate ending because Game of Thrones is headed to Broadway.
According to THR, a dramatic stage show spectacular based on George R.R. Martin’s fantasy world is now in development, from producers Simon Painter and Tim Lawson, in partnership with Kilburn Live. And because he'll do just about anything to avoid finishing the next book in the series, George R.R. Martin will pen the story with award-winning playwright Duncan MacMillan (1984) and acclaimed director Dominic Cooke (The Courier). The creative team hopes to launch productions in New York City, London's West End, and Australia by 2023.
Unlike the many prequel projects that are currently in the works, the stage version of Game of Thrones will feature several fan-favorite characters from the original HBO series. The as-yet-untitled play is set during a pivotal moment in Westeros history, The Great Tourney at Harrenhal, a contest that took place just 16 years before the events in Game of Thrones.
“The play will for the first time take audiences deeper behind the scenes of a landmark event that previously was shrouded in mystery,” reads the play’s official description. “Featuring many of the most iconic and well-known characters from the series, the production will boast a story centered around love, vengeance, madness, and the dangers of dealing in prophecy, in the process revealing secrets and lies that have only been hinted at until now.”
In Westeros lore, the Great Tourney was held over 10 days and was considered the biggest competition event in Westeros history, with tournaments of jousting, archery, and more. It's kind of like Disney's Robin Hood, only with a lot more violence and fewer talking animals. No characters have been confirmed at this time, though Martin's previously published books state attendees of the celebration included a young, shy Ned Stark, his sister Lyanna, a teenage Jaime Lannister, an intimidating Lord Robert Baratheon, lovestruck Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, dashing Prince Oberyn Martell, and noble knight Ser Barristan Selmy, among many others. It's worth noting that Martin's Westeros timeline differs from that of the HBO series, so fans should expect some changes. Other characters that could be a part of the mix include Cersei Lannister, Tywin Lannister, Tyrion Lannister, Littlefinger, and Varys. Unfortunately, characters like Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow, and Arya Stark were not yet born and are unlikely to be a part of the play. Finally, in the finale of the event, Prince Rhaegar publicly declared his love for Robert's betrothed, Lyanna Stark – a move that led to Robert's Rebellion and the Targaryens being overthrown.
“The seeds of war are often planted in times of peace,” Martin said in a statement. “Few in Westeros knew the carnage to come when highborn and smallfolk alike gathered at Harrenhal to watch the finest knights of the realm compete in a great tourney, during the Year of the False Spring. It is a tourney oft referred during HBO's Game of Thrones, and in my novels, A Song of Ice & Fire … and now, at last, we can tell the whole story… on the stage.”
While talking more about the production, Martin said: “An amazing team has been assembled to tell the tale, starting with producers Simon Painter, Tim Lawson, and Jonathan Sanford. Their knowledge and love of my world and characters have impressed me from the very first, and their plans for this production blew me away since the first time we met. Dominic Cooke, our director, is a former artistic director of London's Royal Court Theatre, who brought Shakespeare's dramas of the War of the Roses to television, and our playwright, Duncan Macmillan, has previously adapted George Orwell and Henrik Ibsen, among others. Working with them (back before the pandemic, when we could actually get together) has been a treat, and I am eager for our collaboration to resume. Our dream is to bring Westeros to Broadway, to the West End, to Australia… and eventually, to a stage near you … It ought to be spectacular.”
Obviously, everybody is very excited about bringing Game of Thrones to the grand stage, but what about you? Can Martin's lengthy tale be told during an evening or two at the theater? Are you excited to see the elaborate sets, costumes, effects, and dragons? How many adult diapers will this thing require, and can you wear them comfortably underneath your outfit? Inquiring minds want to know.
“I have such admiration for George’s world and his characters,” MacMillan said, whose theatrical work includes Lungs; People, Places and Things; Every Brilliant Thing; and, of course, an adaptation of 1984. “His generosity and trust during this process has been incredible. Working on this play during lockdown has felt like a real privilege. I can’t wait until we can be back in a theatre to experience this together.”
“I am over the moon at being given the opportunity, by the dynamic producing team of Tim Lawson, Simon Painter, and Kilburn Live, to bring a new installment of George RR Martin’s epic story to a life on stage,” said Cooke, who was the Artistic Director of London’s Royal Court Theatre from 2007 to 2013. “One of George’s inspirations for the original books was Shakespeare’s history plays so the material lends itself naturally to the theatre. Duncan MacMillan and I are having a great time digging into the dynastic power struggles at the heart of George’s extraordinary imaginative world and he has been hugely generous and supportive towards both of us.”
HBO is not involved in the stage production of Game of Thrones but does have the option of investing in the project as it continues to come together.