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George R.R. Martin reveals Game of Thrones stage show set at key moment in Westeros history

By Matthew Jackson

After conquering television through eight seasons on HBO, the world of Game of Thrones continues to expand, but we're not just talking about those upcoming prequels, or even creator George R.R. Martin's much-anticipated final novels. No, this time, Game of Thrones has chosen live theater as its next arena via a brand-new stage show set during a pivotal moment in the recent history of Westeros.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Martin himself is helping to develop a new Game of Thrones stage experience with playwright Duncan MacMillan (responsible for a brutal and acclaimed recent adaptation of 1984) and director Dominic Cooke (The Courier). As for the story, THR reports that it will focus on a "landmark event" known as the Great Tourney of Harrenhal, a key bit of backstory in Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels that's been discussed and hinted about by numerous characters who were there, but never explored in great detail. 

Held more than a decade before the events of A Game of Thrones, the Great Tourney was the largest such event of its era, and united virtually all the major players of the Westerosi nobility at the time for 10 days of celebration, intrigue, and the development of more than a few secrets. It was here, for example, that the doomed romance between Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen was first fully kindled, where an 18-year-old Eddard Stark made his presence known, where Lady Ashara Dayne was dishonored, where Ser Jaime Lannister was first installed in the Kingsguard, and more.

Though they couldn't have known it at the time, many of the participants at the tourney were setting things in motion that would ultimately lead to Robert's Rebellion, and the fall of House Targaryen, just two years later. 

“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.” 

Though it isn't expected to arrive on stages until 2023, the new production will have a major rollout, with debuts in New York, London, and Australia planned. 

The news comes at a time of fresh vitality for Game of Thrones as a franchise, amid news that HBO is developing even more prequel series ideas based on Martin's world. A series based on the history of House Targaryen, titled House of the Dragon, is entering production later this year, and both an animated series and a series focused on Martin's Tales of Dunk & Egg novellas are in development.

Earlier this month three more shows — including a pair of seafaring adventures and one set in the Flea Bottom neighborhood of King's Landing — were announced as developing projects, setting the stage for a seemingly endless flood of new Westeros stories on the small screen. Now, it seems the stage will also be fertile ground on which Martin can keep expanding on things only hinted at in his existing novels. Maybe one day soon, all this enthusiasm will also produce a finished draft of The Winds of Winter