In 2019, winter eventually came for the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones. But that hasn’t ceased the desire to expand and capitalise on its world of warring nations, originally created by George RR Martin in his book series A Song of Ice and Fire. As well as three spin-off series currently in development, a new theatrical production has just been announced – debuting in 2023.
The as-yet-untitled play will take place 16 years before the start of Game of Thrones, during The Great Tourney at Harrenhal in the Year of the False Spring. (In the series, Harrenhal is a massive, barren black fortress used by the army of House Lannister.) An Olympics-type event, the Tourney is considered the biggest competition of Westeros history: held over 10 days, with plenty of jousting and archery.
Taking on directing duties is Dominic Cooke, responsible for many medieval productions – including a play of Arabian Nights and adaptations of Henry VI Parts One and Two for BBC’s The Hollow Crown. Considering the latter takes place during the War of the Roses, a period in British history by which George R. R. Martin was influenced, Cooke’s appointment here is incredibly appropriate. Cooke also directed his first feature film, an adaptation of Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach, in 2017.
Mark Addy as King Robert Baratheon in Game of Thrones season one. Photo: HBO/Sky
Although the cast of characters hasn’t been officially announced, a passage in the first book recounts the attendees. There’s Ned Stark and his sister Lyanna Stark. King Aerys II Targaryen (aka ‘The Mad King’) attends and so does Lord Robert Baratheon, a year prior to his rebellion. A young Jaime Lannister (the future ‘Kingslayer’) is also there, taking his vows to serve and protect King Aerys.
The wedding of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, as revealed in Game of Thrones season six. Photo: HBO/Sky
More significantly, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen makes an appearance. At this time, he's meant to be betrothed to the ill-fated Dornish princess Elia Martell (sister of Oberyn), but at the Tourney he publicly displays his affections for Lyanna Stark, with whom Robert is in love. After the Tourney, Rhaegar supposedly kidnaps Lyanna which catalyses Robert’s Rebellion. But as revealed in Game of Thrones season six, both parties consensually run away together and get married. Lyanna gives birth to their only child: Jon Snow.
This Tourney appears to gather together all the vital forces in Game of Thrones.
The Game of Thrones play will be opening on Broadway, London’s West End, and in Australia.
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