January 11, 2012

Frostbluff Theatre

The last two Yule festivals brought an array of fun new activities to LOTRO.  A very popular and unique place to visit has been the Frostbluff Theatre.  Nowhere else can LOTRO players have the chance to formally perform (and critique!) for each other in such a manner.  The plays put on by the G.L.O.B.E. (Green Lily Orators, Bards, and Entertainers) company and the chance to act in one or be an audience member are more than enough draw in and of themselves.  But there's much more to this little theatre that we get to visit only once a year.

I have already mentioned how Turbine pays homage to one of their own characters in the Old Bloodtusk post.

The actual play we get to see and participate in, "The Curious Disappearance of Mad Baggins," carries much more subtle lore than might be seen at face value. It harks back to the strange events of several years ago, on the day of Bilbo's Eleventy-first birthday party.  This is of course the day he disappeared, and did so in a very strange and mysterious manner that caused quite a stir in and beyond The Shire for years afterward.

Remember, this play is the interpretation of local Hobbits who have stayed behind in The Shire, with virtually no idea of the events relating to the War of the Ring or the implications for their own world.   So we see the perspectives of the local Hobbits throughout the play.  Party goers expect to receive gold and jewels as party gifts, because naturally Bilbo is swimming in them after his great Adventure.

The antagonists are the Evil Dwarf and Gandalf the Villain.  Knowing all that we know, this is of course absurd.  But the Dwarves who spirited Bilbo away on their "adventure" are viewed by the other Hobbits as suspicious and up to no good.  The villainous Gandalf is their ringleader.  Gandalf is credited with having an "evil plan" up his sleeve.  The Evil Dwarf is described as "sour-looking," and their ultimate plan is to of course steal the great fortune that everyone believes Bilbo possesses.  Frodo is viewed as a bit of a dupe, and Bilbo is quite mental, though still the hero of the story.  Bilbo's disappearance is attributed to the two villains, the Dwarf and Gandalf, "doing away" with Bilbo and making off with his treasure.

The tendency for Hobbits to view outsiders with suspicion, including other Hobbits, and attribute less than noble motives to outsiders is found throughout The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  Gandalf was generally held between distant respect for his skills with "fires, smokes, and lights" and some disdain for how he would lead innocent Hobbit lads and lasses "off into the Blue for mad adventures." 

The books do reflect these growing attitudes toward Gandalf - in the time after Bilbo's disappearance, Gandalf returns to Bag End to speak to Frodo and admits that his reputation is in decline:  "I find that I have become rather unpopular.  They say I am a nuisance and a disturber of the peace.  Some people are actually accusing me of spiriting Bilbo away, or worse.  If you want to know, there is supposed to be a plot between you and me to get hold of his wealth."  Although the local Hobbits believed Bilbo was mad (at the end of The Hobbit we are informed that upon his return to The Shire, he discovers he has lost his reputation) and odd, the blame for his disappearance was "mostly laid on Gandalf."  As for Dwarves, it is stated that companies of Dwarves who passed through The Shire to and from the Blue Mountains were the chief source of outside news for Hobbits, yet as a rule Dwarves would say little to the Hobbits, and the Hobbits would not go out of their way to speak to the Dwarves.  So the seemingly over-the-top play is actually quite representative of the attitudes and beliefs concerning Bilbo's disappearance and particularly Gandalf's role.

Another point of interest in the Frostbluff Theatre actually falls into my Cracked Egg category.  If you sit and watch the play, you may notice in between performances that there are a couple of Hobbit critics up in a balcony overlooking the stage.  These two sharp-witted gentleman are Waldo Tunnley and Statdor Proudfoot, who provide some entertaining commentary in between plays.  Possibly something about their exchanges - the insulting comments, the thorough enjoyment of their own humor - sounds a bit familiar?  Even the names sort of sound like...Waldorf and Statler, maybe?

By the way, if you look at the pictures hanging below Waldo and Statdor, look closely at the middle one.  If you approach it, the image just blurs out, but from a distance it looks kinda familiar now, doesn't it?  Now what would a bunch of Hobbits, who have presumably never traveled outside of The Shire, be doing with a painting of what most certainly looks to be Durin's Door, the western entrance into Moria?!  Mysterious, Turbine, very mysterious.

The painting in Frostbluff Theatre
Look a bit familiar to Turbine fans?

John Howe's conceptualization
Professor Tolkien's own rendering of Durin's Door

Sources:  The Fellowship of the Ring, The Hobbit

1 comment:

  1. I love the Disappearance of Mad Baggins, it's fun to see the story from the hobbit perspective. And the hobbit critics are a fun addition. But I never noticed the painting of Durin's Door before, good spot!