Diana’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (205)

This is one in a series of posts where the content is provided by a guest who has graciously answered five questions about their experience as a Tolkien fan.

To see the idea behind this project, or if you are interested in sharing your own, visit the project homepage. If you enjoy this series, please consider helping us fund the project using the support page.

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his artwork for this project. Prints are available on his website!

Now, on toDiana’s responses:

1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

My parents read The Hobbit out loud to me and my brother when I was 8. A teacher was doing a children’s adaptation play and asked the students to watch The Hobbit movie by Rankin and Bass. I was cast as Elrond in the children’s play though I was a girl. That play was performed twice. As I discussed with my mom recently she told me the thing she remembered was her having made me a costume when I was in second grade and the school had to provide me a braille book so I could learn my lines; however, I remembered more the second performance the following year when the class was able to watch the animated movie. I remembered the second performance of a public  school’s children’s play of The Hobbit and my mom remembered the first because my mom is a good seamstress and made me the costume while I was in second grade, but there was no music in that performance. The next year when I was in third grade I had to play a flute solo on the tra-la-laly song, and the other music was added for the performance that year. Both times I was Elrond. I remembered the music, and mom remembered the costume. That was over 40 years ago. 

I could not remember everything until I looked up when any film of Tolkien’s works had been made and I had also found my children’s yearbook from the second time I was in the play when I was in third grade. I did not ever forget Elrond. He is my favorite character. I am totally blind. I have a mental health condition that makes me extremely fearful so the classroom teacher wanted me to be the leader who had the safe place. I was 30 years old when Peter Jackson released The Fellowship of the Ring movie. I am 51 years old on the eve of the Rings Of Power TV series on Amazon Prime, but I do not have Amazon Prime and plan to listen to the content of the stories for the series elsewhere such as in audiobooks of The Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-Earth and the music soundtrack composed by Bear McCreary.

2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

The sections on the elves and Rivendell.

3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

Reading/listening to the books/watching the movies once every 5 years. Meeting new friends who are also fans of Tolkien’s work. Because I lost my husband to cancer 6 years ago and we can no longer watch the movies, I have sought ways to immerse myself in the books and will do so for as long as I live. I get enchanted every time I read them. I listen to something about Tolkien every day as the highlight of my day.

For the fondest experience I have with Tolkien’s work, it is a very recent one: This year in August 2022 – to listen to the audio play done by Chad Bornholdt’s crew of “The Council of Elrond” wearing headphones and listening to the chapter in Dolby Atmos 3-d sound that they were able to use. I heard it on The Music Of Middle-earth podcast by Jordan Rannells. Oh Yes! That was a blessed hour and 45 minutes!

4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?

 Yes. While I was afraid that I would have to leave Tolkien’s world as a child, I am learning there are more books than The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and I never have to leave. I do not want to leave Middle-earth. By necessity of my health condition I need to “go to Rivendell” by way of practicing guided mindfulness meditation every day through mindfulness apps that give directions on deep breathing and muscle relaxation – and I am then at “Rivendell.”.

5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?

Yes. It is hopeful and encouraging even though much of it is very sad.

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