NOW I know what Rûdharanion has been up to in that tower! And it is as I suspected, his version of my story…but with what a difference.
He took me aside at the party, when people started taking their children home, and told me all about it. I was much taken aback. He had been in that tower for only about four months, I think…he had finished it in so short a time? Yes, well, the first part anyway, and he had brought it with him, and would submit it to me for my approval before doing what he planned with it. And he would not do it if I did not wish it, he said.
It is a drama. Yes, in three parts, it is to be. Based on Dûndeloth’s epic, and Dûndeloth had given his approval with the stipulation that I too must approve it before it could be performed.
“I’ve written a few dramas, long, long ago,” Rûdharanion said, looking a bit sheepish as I sat down thumbing through the pages of the manuscript. “Quite dreadful, most of them. But I think I’ve done rather decently with this one. Still, you are my only friend and very dear to me, and I have wronged you in so many ways. So if you do not wish for me to go through with this project, I will not. Please take it home with you, and take all the time you need about reading it and deciding. And then please let me know if it’s a go or not.”
I puckered my brow, thinking “a go” a peculiar expression coming from him, but I let it pass, studying the frontispiece.
THE LORD OF THE RING,
a Drama by
Based Upon the Epic Poem by the Illustrious
Being the Tale of the Beloved Halfling Hero
FRODO BAGGINS OF THE SHIRE,
known to the Inhabitants of the Isle of Tol Eressëa as
together with his Faithful Companions in their Noble Mission to Destroy the
RING of POWER
of the Evil Lord
in the Third Age of Middle-Earth.
Part the First: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING.
Rûdharanion explained that the title “The Fellowship,” while not amiss for a book, for a drama was rather lacking in, well, drama, and so he had expanded it thusly. Did I mind? Not in the slightest. And I took it home, and read well into the day.
And it is a go.
The hobbits will be played by children, of course. There are no child-actors in the company that will be staging the drama, so they are recruiting youngsters from the Island and choosing from among them.
Guess who will be playing me?
And you, Sam? Perion!
Dínlad, it turns out, has quite a dramatic flair, memorizes quickly, and has a fine voice and impressive stage presence for one so young, and can even improvise lines when he forgets them. Perion is of a much more comedic sort, and I had my misgivings since I didn't want his portrayal to be too broadly comic, but he seems to be doing very well, throwing himself into the part, and he and Dínlad are delightful to watch together, in and out of rehearsals. They are enthusiastic about the story, which they pronounce “smashing” and “jolly”--Galendur being their idol, and they have picked up some of his expressions. And they are both tickled at the prospect of having little pelts of dyed lamb’s-wool tied to their feet. And Dínlad has very generously offered to allow the actor playing Boromir to borrow his horn!
I think Dínlad is in a fair way to get spoilt by the entire Company! They all make quite a fuss over him, and Perion too. And of course the boys relish it. They strut about, firing questions at the actors, examining the props, trying on costumes, sparring with wooden swords, reading lines from the scripts, and in general just clowning around, and I think it's the most fun the Company has ever had!
And Lyrien and Marílen will be in it also, and it doesn’t bother them that they will not have lines. Lyrien said she’d probably forget hers anyway, and be embarrassed to death. And they get to dance and wear funny costumes…and this time their mothers will surely not object to their having foot hair!
There is a pair of twins, friends of Perion’s, Edrahil and Dairuin, who will play Merry and Pippin. Fortunately they are not identical, so there won’t be too much confusion over which is which…and that is a good thing, as I will be helping with the directing! And I shall also do a bit of acting. Can you guess whom I will portray?
Bilbo, of course, could not be more proud. He is slowing down, I can see that. His step is far less light now, and he does not get up and move about and putter in the garden as much as he used, preferring to stay in his chair and watch me, even taking quiet spells…which, coming from him, is very disturbing indeed. I doubt I would be doing this thing, except I have decided that if he is thinking of leaving, perhaps he will either change his mind for a while, or if not, he will go out happy and proud and smiling at seeing himself thus portrayed.
It’s a trifle embarrassing to me, since our lines must be sung, rather than spoken, in order to be heard in that huge theater. I am a fair enough singer for a hobbit, but by Elf standards I can’t be much. But, fortunately if I am playing a hobbit Bilbo’s age, perhaps the others will not have overly high expectations as to my vocal capacities! Fortunately there is a teacher who is instructing me in proper breathing techniques so that I will be able to "project" better. I hadn't known that breathing was so important to a singer. It involves some very strange exercises...such as standing with your back flat against a wall, taking a very deep breath, then letting it out in a long slow hiss. Also singing on strange syllables in order to improve your "resonance". I am also taking a few lessons in something called "diction" which has to do with pronouncing. It makes a great difference in the way you pronounce things on a stage...or "enunciate" as they call it. I'm paying close attention, since I can see how these things will be useful to a director. I am mainly in charge of directing the lads, since it is far less nerve-wracking to deal with people closer to my size, and who better than a hobbit to teach them to act like hobbits? I only hope their mothers won't come at me in a body if I teach them a drinking-song or two! But as yet Lalaith has not come to me telling me Dínlad is driving them all mad with the “Man in the Moon” song.
Rûdharanion will be in the play also. He will portray…Gandalf.
When Gandalf heard that, he was completely “kerflummoxed,” as he put it. Now there’s a word I never thought to hear from him!
I had mentioned to Rûdharanion that perhaps he ought to consider acting once more; perhaps he would do better this time around, if I put in a word for him. After being assured I was not making a joke, he shook his head, saying, “No no no, I was never any good at it, and should only end up making a fool of myself once more. Sometimes I wonder just what I was put on this earth for at all. To make others feel superior? To give the Valar something to chuckle over? Whatever it was, it’s getting damned tiresome, and I want no more of it.”
But after I approved the drama, telling him, truthfully, that it was wonderful, he changed his mind, saying he felt he’d finally gotten something right, and maybe he would give acting another go as well. And even Gandalf thinks he’s doing splendidly. As does Dûndeloth. I wish Dûndeloth could play Aragorn, but there’s a fellow from the company who has taken that part, and will not surrender it at any price. But I think Dûndeloth would be splendid in the part. He is quite a romantic figure at the College, and his female students, such as they are, are all in love with him. Not that he is so much better-looking than others; he just has a certain charm and sweetness and mystery about him that attracts the opposite sex as a flower attracts bees. And then there are the tragic events of his past, which make them want to take him in their arms and comfort him…yes, how can the poor creatures help but adore him?
Or at least, some would say he is no better-looking than most; I think otherwise, but of course I am biased. I think he is second only to Galendur, reckoned by many to be the best-looking male on the Island, a description with which I’ve no quarrel now that he’s stopped letting it go to his head.
Galendur will play Glorfindel, since it is a small part that none of the Company would want. I’m hoping he won’t end up stealing the one scene in which he appears completely!
The actress playing Galadriel is called Inzilbêth—not her real name, which I cannot remember now, so perhaps it’s just as well she changed it. A good many actors do so, I’ve found, if they don’t consider their right names impressive enough. Trust this one to choose a queen’s name! She does bear a resemblance to our Queen, but I find her rather haughty and difficult. The director tells me I am “too nice” and must “crack the whip” and let the others know who’s in charge, or they will run all over me like stampeding cattle over a tail-wagging pup. Perhaps so, but cracking the whip is so much easier when you don’t have to crane your head back to look others in the eye! Inzilbêth is none too happy about the fact that she appears so late in the drama, and so briefly, and will not appear at all in the second and third part. I suggested giving her a song. I wish I could remember the song the Lady sang in farewell to us. I remember it was poetic and lovely and a trifle poignant, just the thing for Inzilbêth, surely. Perhaps I can persuade the Queen to teach it to us…but in the meantime, I hit on the idea of having Inzilbêth declaim the prologue explaining the forging of the Rings at the beginning. And she is partially placated.
Lady C. is tickled to death that Inzilbêth is portraying her mother. “I simply adore her!” she said when she heard the news, sounding for all the world like the breathless adolescent she most certainly is not. “She has such a way about her. I’ll never forget her performance in The Fall of Gondolin. Such raw emotion as she was able to impart! There was scarcely a dry eye in the theater.”
“She’s got a way about her all right,” Galendur said for my ears alone. “A way that I imagine could be a royal pain in the arse for the director.”
I giggled, remembering what one of the actors said when I spoke of persuading Lady G. to teach us her song for Inzilbêth. Make sure it has plenty of high notes, he said. If she didn't get any, she was likely to throw a fit. I couldn't remember the song as having high notes, the Queen's voice being rather low pitched. But I suppose the song could be pitched higher. And there is no other actress in the Company so well suited to the part.
I confess, I got a lump in my throat as I watched them rehearse the scene in which the Lady gives Dínlad…me…the star-glass…which, of course, I lent for the occasion. Perhaps it was the light from the glass that did it, the way it illuminated their faces with a soft and gentle beauty like a lover’s smile. There was something holy in the way Inzilbêth sang May it be a Light unto your path/When about you all others go out/A peerless fragment of your own true Shining/Held blessedly in the palm of your hand…and I could hardly help but think of Dûndeloth’s words: “In order for the Realm to remain blessed, the Light of Truth must be kept burning. And that Light depends on what you have done, and the knowledge of it.”
Well. I can see already that there is far more to directing a play than meets the eye!