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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Has anyone ever actually seen this play staged?

hamlet
Rivendell


Feb 6, 3:19am

Post #1 of 11 (2041 views)
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Has anyone ever actually seen this play staged? Can't Post

Tired of waiting for the next book in "The Song of Ice and Fire" series to come out, and having just re-read "The Hobbit" and LOTR for the 20th (or so) time recently, I dusted off my old copy of "The Tolkien Reader" and finally attempted to make my way through "The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth, Beorhthelm's Son." Although interesting from an etymological perspective, I find it hard to believe that anyone might try to stage this drama. I was wondering if anyone out there has ever heard of such a thing. Just curious.


squire
Half-elven


Feb 6, 3:57am

Post #2 of 11 (2013 views)
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I think it's a radio play. [In reply to] Can't Post

That was always my understanding - that it was acted out on BBC radio in Tolkien's time.

After all, the drama is all verbal - there's no real action. Yet the piece calls for sound effects to give depth and reality to the dialogue, and that's classic radio drama.

I have a feeling that university drama groups have occasionally revived it, but even then it wasn't susceptible of a full staging so much as a staged recital.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
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hamlet
Rivendell


Feb 6, 2:21pm

Post #3 of 11 (1981 views)
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This makes sense. [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the info!


a.s.
Valinor


Feb 27, 10:05pm

Post #4 of 11 (1711 views)
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Google knows :-) [In reply to] Can't Post

I tried to read it once, long ago--but then, I am no scholar.

Some people are, though: "Tolkien's "recitation" has rarely been performed (in his Descriptinve Bibliography, Wayne Hammond notes only a 1954 performance on BBC Radio and stage performances in London in 1975 and 1991"

Source: https://www.questia.com/...orhthelm-s-son-j-r-r

from Mythlore, I believe, don't know which edition.

a.s.

"an seileachan"


"A safe fairyland is untrue to all worlds." JRR Tolkien, Letters.



Modtheow
Lorien


Feb 28, 2:27am

Post #5 of 11 (1696 views)
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It was read / staged some years ago... [In reply to] Can't Post

...in Kalamazoo at the International Congress on Medieval Studies by people in the Tolkien at Kalamazoo group. Sadly, I wasn't at the conference that year, so I don't know whether it was mainly recited or acted out in some way. Maybe N.E. Brigand was there and can tell us?

Tolkien himself recorded the play, doing different voices and even including some sound effects (apparently moving his desk chair to sound like a creaking wagon). It would definitely work well as a radio play, but there is some action in it -- two men are hunting for bodies on a battlefield; they have to haul a dead body into a wagon; there are thieves lurking around in the dark that one of them attacks; and then they head off on a narrow causeway with the body in the wagon. Not much action, but then it's a short play. I would like to see an attempt at staging it.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Feb 28, 2:53am

Post #6 of 11 (1701 views)
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I took part in a dramatic reading once. [In reply to] Can't Post

This was at the 43rd International Congress on Medieval Studies, held in Kalamazoo in 2008. Chris Vaccaro and Leigh Smith played the leads. John William Houghton, Sandra Ballif Straubhaar, and I performed the chant at the end, with John as our music director, and Samuel J. Unger, who directed the reading, intoned the couplet just before the end.

The performance was paired with a reading of a comic retelling of The Battle of Maldon by Edward L. Risden, who dedicated it to Tom Shippey, then about to retire and in our audience.

Beorhtnoth is supposed to take place in the dark, so it does indeed work best as a radio play.

Tolkien, unhappy with the BBC's version, made his own recording, including homemade sound effects. Though never commercially released, an audio cassette of that performance was provided to attendees of the 1992 Tolkien centenary conference and sometimes turns up on eBay. I am fortunate to have a copy.

Treason doth neuer prosper? What's the Reason?
for if it prosper none dare call it treason.


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a.s.
Valinor


Feb 28, 4:43pm

Post #7 of 11 (1657 views)
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video or it didn't happen!!!! [In reply to] Can't Post

Just kidding.

How great to have that Tolkien cassette.

a.s.

"an seileachan"


"A safe fairyland is untrue to all worlds." JRR Tolkien, Letters.



Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Feb 28, 6:08pm

Post #8 of 11 (1646 views)
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I can't believe that was 10 years ago [In reply to] Can't Post

Where does the time go?

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Feb 28, 11:07pm

Post #9 of 11 (1637 views)
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Timing! [In reply to] Can't Post

Missed your post while I was looking through old program listings on the Congress website, plus some emails in my Kzoo folder, in order to confirm the participants. The schedule says Elizabeth Crowll also was part of the reading, but if so, I don't remember that.

Didn't you study under George Clark? I'm pretty sure he was also in the audience, sitting next to Shippey, but never having met him, I wasn't quite sure.

A couple years ago, I discovered that Clark first encountered Tolkien's work while housesitting for squire's grandfather.

Treason doth neuer prosper? What's the Reason?
for if it prosper none dare call it treason.


-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


Modtheow
Lorien


Mar 1, 12:02am

Post #10 of 11 (1635 views)
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6 degrees of separation - or maybe 3 [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, I did study with George, and it's quite likely he was sitting with Tom Shippey that day, as they do know each other. Squire's grandfather was George's dissertation supervisor. And since his grandfather knew Tolkien (at least professionally -- I think that's right, Squire?) then that is the closest I can claim to getting to Tolkien himself.


squire
Half-elven


Mar 1, 7:27pm

Post #11 of 11 (1600 views)
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They knew each other - to what degree I can't really be sure. [In reply to] Can't Post

I am fairly sure they were more than just two Beowulf boffins who read each other's work, thanks to a letter from 1938 that a Tolkien scholar unearthed in the Bodleian Library and copied to me a few years ago. In it my grandfather writes, "Dear Tolkien," and congratulates him on the The Hobbit. Tolkien had sent a gift copy of the American edition, and evidently my father (then about 11) was enjoying it tremendously. Grandfather adds, "You are versatile indeed; I hope you will do another..." (!)

My grandfather then catches Tolkien up "since I last saw you" on his professional research projects, involving Gothic scripts and runes; "...compliments on your runic inscriptions!" he says, evidently referring to the runes in The Hobbit. So it certainly seems that in his travels to Europe to do research he visited Tolkien at Oxford in the 1930s.

This all surprised me somewhat, because until seeing this I had only my father's report, in response to my teenaged curiosity when I first connected to who and what medievalists were, that his father had at some point expressed contempt for Tolkien and "his damned books". That fit the conventional narrative that Tolkien was suspect in his professional world for having done less research, and more fantasy-writing, than he should have. Still, this letter is about The Hobbit, and my Dad's report may relate to the later publication of The Lord of the Rings.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.

 
 

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