The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling’s landmark sci-fi anthology series about technological paranoia, creeping dread in 1960s America, and monsters and weirdos of all sorts, will be adapted as a stage play, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed this morning.
The play will debut in a limited run at London’s Almeida Theatre this December, with a script from Anne Washburn. Washburn’s best-known play is her 2012 Off-Broadway work Mr. Burns, which is about a traveling theater troupe in post-apocalyptic America that performs episodes of The Simpsons from memory. The play will be directed by Olivier-winner Richard Jones, who is best known for the 1990 London run of Sondheim’s Into the Woods, as well as the short-lived 1997 Titanic musical on Broadway, and has also directed several operas and Shakespeare productions.
CBS, which hosted the series’s original run, still holds the rights to The Twilight Zone and will produce the play. Veronica Hart, a VP of consumer products at CBS, told The Hollywood Reporter, “The Twilight Zone was an ingenious mixture of morality tales, fables and fantasy that are as relevant today as when they first aired. The play allows these powerful stories to be experienced in an entirely new way in order to reach a whole new audience.”
The adaptation seems inevitable. The Twilight Zone drew plenty of oddity inspiration and existential dread from the then-popular Theater of the Absurd, including classic works like Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and their precursor, Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit — all of which are still live theater staples that are regularly revived. The enduring popularity of The Twilight Zone has also been proven by obvious copycat shows like Hulu’s Dimension 404 and Netflix’s Black Mirror.
If the show is a success in London it’ll likely make its way to Broadway, where I hope I can finally realize my dream of seeing a live version of that episode where a little kid kills people with his brain when they sing showtunes he doesn’t like.