The cycle, comprising a series of specially commissioned plays from writers that include American playwright Lee Blessing and leading U.K. writers Stephen Jeffreys, Ron Hutchinson, David Edgar, David Greig, Richard Bean and Simon Stephens, was first seen in London in April 2009, and revived there the following year. In 2010 it toured the U.S., including an earlier date at DC's Shakespeare Theatre, the Guthrie in Minneapolis, Berkeley Rep in California and New York's Public Theater.
The Tricycle Theatre together with the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence organized a similar private viewing of The Great Game in July 2010 before the plays left London for the U.S. tour. The U.K.'s top military commander General Sir David Richards commented, "I can tell you that the Ministry of Defence as a whole, and certainly the armed forces desperately want to understand the country well, and this series of plays – if I had seen it before I had deployed [to Afghanistan] myself in 2005 for the first time - would have made me a much better Commander of the ISAF Forces."
In a press statement, Nicolas Kent, director of the Tricycle Theatre, said, "The original intention in mounting The Great Game was to inform audiences of the history of Western involvement in Afghanistan since the early 19th century until the present day. The recent Obama Afpak policy review, the continuing ISAF operations in Helmand and in Afghanistan generally, and the mounting military and civilian casualty figures emphasise the importance of this. We very much hope that this trilogy and the theatre can play its part in continuing to stimulate the public's discussion and debate on what is currently the most important focus of UK and American foreign policy. We are honored to have been asked to perform our production The Great Game: Afghanistan for the Pentagon. It confirms the power of theatre to engage with contemporary policy issues and spark debate, to educate and to challenge, as well as to entertain."
Michael Kahn, artistic director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company, added, "We welcome back to Washington our friends from The Great Game: Afghanistan and the Tricycle Theatre. I'm so pleased that the Shakespeare Theatre Company is able to offer this significant theatrical experience to members of the Pentagon. We feel that it is our responsibility in the theatre community to not only entertain but to stimulate discussion and inform audiences."
The ensemble company presenting it comprises Daniel Betts, Sheena Bhattessa, Michael Cochrane, Karl Davies, Vincent Ebrahim, Nabil Elouahabi, Shereen Martineau, Tom McKay, Daniel Rabin, Danny Rahim, Raad Rawi, Jemma Redgrave, Cloudia Swann and Rick Warden. The two trilogy days are being presented by the Tricycle Theatre, The Bob Woodruff Foundation, British Council and Shakespeare Theatre Company. The Bob Woodruff Foundation provides resources and support to service members, veterans and their families to successfully reintegrate into their communities so they may thrive physically, psychologically, socially and economically. The British Council is the U.K.'s international non-profit organization for cultural relations and education opportunities. Through its offices in Kabul and work with schools and colleges across Afghanistan, it works with Afghans who seek to re-build their lives and a stable society.