A stage version of Brokeback Mountain is officially in the works—two years after the rights were acquired by producer Tom O'Connell.
The 1997 novel by Annie Proulx is best known by its 2005 screen adaptation—directed by Ang Lee and starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger—but will come to life for the first time as a West End play.
The play’s official Twitter account notified fans that the team had undergone the first day of workshops—uploading a photo of the first draft script.
“This week we are very excited to be in the workshop room with actors and creatives who are collaborating to bring to life the first ever stage play of Annie Proulx’s iconic Brokeback Mountain,” O’Connell told Attitude.
“After working over the last ten years on other successful LGBT+ productions that are iconic both on screen and stage – such as Beautiful Thing, Another Country, The Boys in the Band and currently Joe Orton’s Loot which opens in two weeks at the Park Theatre and all the while making sure audiences come away educated, inspired and entertained – I am thrilled that the team we have for Brokeback will create something visually stunning and deeply moving, transforming audiences into the world of Jack and Ennis.”
Brokeback Mountain has previously been adapted into an opera by American composer Charles Wuorinen with a libretto written by Proulx. The world premiere took place in Madrid in 2014 and will make its US debut in 2018.
There’s no word yet as to when the UK play will be staged—but the production’s official website is keeping fans up to date with newsletters.
O’Connell has previously said of the production that he was “honoured to bring Annie Proulx’s beloved story to the stage as a new play that celebrates her compelling writing and will bring a new perspective on this heart-warming tale of an unbreakable bond.”
“The struggles that the characters of Brokeback Mountain go through are still present in the world today, making the piece as relevant as ever.”
Proulx commented in an interview with the Paris Review that she regretted writing Brokeback Mountain because of the feedback she received after the film’s release.
“So many people have completely misunderstood the story. I think it’s important to leave spaces in a story for readers to fill in from their own experience, but unfortunately, the audience that ‘Brokeback’ reached most strongly have powerful fantasy lives,” she said.
“So they rewrite the story, including all kinds of boyfriends and new lovers and so forth after Jack is killed. And it just drives me wild.”
However, Proulx seems to be hopeful about the stage adaptation, releasing a statement when the rights were initially acquired in 2015.
“I am looking forward with sharp anticipation to the stage interpretation of the star-crossed lovers of Brokeback Mountain who moved from the page to the screen and now, under the skilled hand of producer Tom O’Connell and the sensibilities of the company, to the stage – a strange journey for two messed-up wannabe cow-hands from Wyoming.
“The actors who pull on their scuffed-up boots will step into a difficult time in a hard place.”