Game of Thrones Broadway play could change the show forever
The HBO fantasy series is coming to live theater, with one of the most important moments from George R.R. Martin's books forming the core of the story.
Game of Thrones is over, but the world of Westeros is still expanding far beyond the scope of the original HBO show. In fact, some of the award-winning fantasy series’ biggest mysteries are only now fully unfolding.
There is at least one spinoff series, House of the Dragon, officially on the way, in addition to other Thrones-related prequels. A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin’s novels are still continuing, even if there isn’t a Winds of Winter publication date anywhere in sight; what’s more, Martin just signed a lucrative deal with HBO, all but promising another decade of Thrones content.
But it’s a story lurking beyond the realm of both television and the books that may contain the biggest Game of Thrones story of all time — a story that has been deeply anticipated by the Westeros faithful for many, many years now.
Game of Thrones is coming to Broadway
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a Game of Thrones stage play is heading to Broadway. It comes equipped with a story by none other than Martin himself, collaborating with Duncan MacMillan and Dominic Cooke as playwright and director, respectively. THR states the goal is to launch the show in 2023 on New York City’s Broadway, London’s West End, and in Australia.
In addition to being a hopeful boon for live theater in the age of Covid-19, the Game of Thrones play is a very big deal for another, geekier reason: it’s the most important story in the entire A Song of Ice and Fire saga.
The THR report states the play will cover the Tourney at Harrenhal, a pivotal event in Game of Thrones lore. A moment from many years before the start of the HBO show, the Tourney plays host to several notable Thrones characters: Ned Stark, the Lannister siblings, Robert Baratheon, and more.
But it’s two characters who don’t physically appear in Game of Thrones who matter the most — or, at least, only appear fleetingly, while their shadows loom large over all else: Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.
The former heir to the Iron Throne and Ned Stark’s sister, respectively, Rhaegar and Lyanna are two of the most powerful figures in Westeros lore. They met each other at the Tourney at Harrenhal, a mutual curiosity to each other at first, which quickly snowballed into a sordid love affair — one that ended in so much violence, but also life, as they would go on to become the parents of Jon Snow.
Because only five books have been released, Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire has not yet confirmed Rhaegar and Lyanna as Jon’s father and mother, but the theory is one of the most popular in the fandom, the stuff of much fan-fiction and fan-art. It even has its own math equation: R+L = J. The theory of Jon’s royal parentage was canonized in HBO’s Game of Thrones, with his final arc addressing his destiny as the heir to the Iron Throne.
Rhaegar and Lyanna’s love affair not only produced Jon as the Iron Throne’s true heir but tore the entire fabric of Westeros to shreds. A forbidden romance that was wildly misinterpreted due to a tragedy of errors, Rhaegar and Lyanna’s quantum entanglement led directly to Robert’s Rebellion, which itself led to the War of the Five Kings, which itself is still leading to so much violence in the scope of Martin’s books — and it all starts at the Tourney at Harrenhal, where Rhaegar and Lyanna first met.
Game of Thrones stages a Jon Snow prequel
It’s hard to overstate the importance of this Game of Thrones play. For one thing, it’s the closest we’ve gotten to a direct Thrones prequel, featuring events that directly, immediately impact the greater HBO show’s narrative. We may never see a Robert’s Rebellion TV series — or even a prequel book — so this is as close as we’re going to get.
It’s also a very fitting venue for such a story. While it’s all about an epic love, it’s also about … well, love. So much of the reason why Rhaegar and Lyanna’s romance has been considered legendary in the fandom is the whispered nature surrounding them, such as the rumors of Lyanna posing as the so-called “Knight of the Laughing Tree.” These scenes are perfectly suited for theater, as much as (or more) than a filmed medium.
Will we see the show in some kind of filmed medium, though? I’d be shocked if the answer was anything other than yes. Think about Hamilton on Disney+ as a point of reference. A similar taping of this forthcoming Game of Thrones play appearing on HBO Max feels like a guarantee, especially given Martin’s recent HBO deal. If not, then perhaps it goes the Harry Potter route, with Martin selling copies of the stage play’s script.
If nothing else, that’s a good point of reference for the developing play: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. A sequel to J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world saga in stage play form was nonetheless a very big deal — and a prequel to Martin’s still-ongoing fantasy series is just as massive, especially when the future of his books is still so deeply uncertain.
Game of Thrones is streaming on HBO Max.