‘Game of Thrones’ Star Kit Harington’s Casting in West End ‘Slave Play’ Won’t Be the ‘Jon Snow Experience,’ Says Writer Jeremy O. Harris

“Slave Play” writer Jeremy O. Harris feels confident that casting “Game of Thrones” star Kit Harington in the production’s West End run won’t be a “distraction.”

In a new interview with The Guardian, Harris said Harington was recommended to him by “Game of Thrones” star Gwendoline Christie and he would not have agreed to his casting if Harington had wanted to “make it the Jon Snow experience.”

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“Kit was saying ‘I don’t want this to be Kit Harington in ‘Slave Play,” this is an ensemble play and I’m not even the lead,’” Harris said. “He knows the weight his name carries and how that could become a distraction, if we allowed it to be.”

The controversial play about race, identity and sexuality in 21st century America is set at the MacGregor Plantation, where the Old South is alive and well. It follows three interracial couples undergoing “Antebellum Sexual Performance Therapy” to reinvigorate their relationships.

“Slave Play” was originally staged in 2018 at New York Theatre Workshop before transferring to Broadway’s John Golden Theatre in 2019. The production received 12 nominations at the 74th Tony Awards, breaking the record previously set by the revival of “Angels in America” to become the most Tony-nominated non-musical play of all time.

The production is now transferring to London’s West End and will play June 29 – Sept. 21 at the Noël Coward Theatre.

Beyond Harington, the cast will include Fisayo Akinade (“The Crucible,” “Heartstopper”), Aaron Heffernan (“Brassic,” “Atlanta”), Olivia Washington (“I Am Virgo”), James Cusati-Moyer (“Six Degrees of Separation,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), Chalia La Tour (“Elementary”), Annie McNamara (“Orange is the New Black”) and Irene Sofia Lucio (“The Americans”).

In The Guardian interview, Harris also discussed the trend of big names leading theater productions, saying that despite Harington starring in “Slave Play,” he “doesn’t believe” in it.

“There’s a lot of people making theater now who think commercial theater can only be made if you have someone who’s on the biggest TV show or the biggest movie ever, with the marquee name as the reason for you to buy the ticket. I don’t believe in that,” Harris said. “It’s something that takes away from great theater because people treat it like a Disney World attraction, where the play is background to the amusement of seeing their favorite celebrity in front of them.”

During the run of “Slave Play,” there will be two Black Out nights on July 17 and Sept. 17, which are “the purposeful creation of an environment in which an all-Black-identifying audience can experience and discuss an event in the performing arts, film, athletic, and cultural spaces – free from the white gaze,” according to a statement from the production.

“Slave Play” is from Empire Street Productions (“Prima Facie”), Seaview (“Parade”) and bb². It is directed by Robert O’Hara (“In The Continuum”).

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