May 29, 2024

London is volunteering as tribute to host the first-ever stage adaptation of “The Hunger Games,” a play based on Suzan Collins’ best-selling books and the Jennifer Lawrence-led blockbuster film franchise.

Matthew Dunster (“Hangmen”) is directing and playwright Conor McPherson (“Girl From the North Country”) is adapting the live theatrical production. (And may the odds be ever in their favor.) It will make its debut in London in the fall of 2024.

The play will be based on the first book in Collins’ dystopian series revolving around a televised battle royale in which young tributes are selected via lottery to fight to the death. The story picks up as Katniss Everdeen, a role that propelled Lawrence to stardom, volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in the 74th annual Hunger Games. A press release calls the stage version a “gripping tale of courage, defiance, and the unbreakable human spirit.”

“I’m very excited to be collaborating with the amazing team of Conor McPherson and Matthew Dunster as they bring their dynamic and innovative interpretation of ‘The Hunger Games’ to the London stage,” Collins wrote in a statement.

McPherson, whose other stage shows include “The Weir,” “The Seafarer” and “Shining City,” called it “humbling and inspiring” to receive Collins’ blessing to adapt “The Hunger Games” for the stage.

“She has created a classic story which continues to resonate now more than ever,” he said. “In a world where the truth itself seems increasingly up for grabs, ‘The Hunger Games’ beautifully expresses values of resilience, self-reliance and independent moral inquiry for younger people especially. This is turbo charged storytelling of the highest order and I’m hugely excited to bring it to a new generation of theatre goers and to Suzanne Collins’ longstanding and devoted fans.”

Dunster was equally euphoric about taking on the world of Panem. The theater veteran, who has directed or written more than 60 shows and received five Tony nominations, says getting hired to work on this show “might be the most exciting work call I’ve ever had.”

“As soon as the producers said the title, I just said ‘Stop! I’m in,’” Dunster says. “I loved the Lionsgate film and the brutal and emotional power of this dystopian classic. My children had their heads in the books at the time (it’s definitely the ONLY work call of mine they’ve been excited about) so I stole them and I came to appreciate the beauty of Suzanne Collins’ storytelling. This is theatre. It’s ‘The Hunger Games’ in the theatre. And with the world class team we have put together we aim to do something that is fully immersed in the novel and the film but is uniquely, thrillingly theatrical.”

“The Hunger Games” is produced by Tristan Baker and Charlie Parsons for Runaway Entertainment, Oliver Royds for BOS Productions and Isobel David, by arrangement with Lionsgate.

The original “Hunger Games” novel was published in 2008, with two sequels and four feature films to follow. Those movies collectively generated $3 billion at the global box office. Lionsgate has developed a prequel “The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes,” starring Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler, which debuts in theaters on Nov. 17.

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