Welcome to the latest “Getting to know…” questions that need answering. It’s based on the old Getting to know you threads that I occasionally post on the message boards here on TORn, so those familiar with them will know that the questions can be a little crazy and the answers even crazier.
This month we’re asking questions of our one and only greendragon.
Thanks so much Kirsten for agreeing to take part this month 🙂
Kelvarhin: Have you done anything through TORn or your LOTR fandom that you wouldn’t have got to do otherwise?
greendragon: Oh absolutely LOADS of things!! Where to begin…? Of course there are the really exciting things which my work for TORn has brought me: meeting celebs, doing interviews, going to fun events, writing articles, etc. I’m very lucky to have had all those experience; but I have to say the greatest thing which TORn has brought me is friendship. I have SO many wonderful friends whom I would never have met without TORn. I’ve travelled to wonderful places, either with those friends, or to visit those friends. I couldn’t say for sure that I wouldn’t have been to various places without TORn; but I certainly wouldn’t have been there in the company of such excellent and admirable fellow fans. And THAT is a great blessing.
Kelvarhin: Did you ever imagine when you came to TORn that you’d become so involved? Traveling to NZ (more than once!), interviewing cast members, singing onstage with Emerald Rose and Beecake? What’s it been like for you… this Tolkien/TORn journey?
greendragon: Actually I’ve only been to NZ once – but one day my path will lead me back there! Did I ever imagine I would become so involved…? Well, I tend to throw myself 100% into anything and everything I do, so I’m not really surprised to be so wrapped up in TORn – but I am of course thrilled to be part of such an amazing group, and being senior staff is an honour. It’s been an incredible journey – mostly because of my fellow travellers, as mentioned above. TORnados/TORnsibs are amazing people – may our roads together go ever on and on!
Kelvarhin: How were you introduced to Tolkien, and did Tolkien have any influence on how/where you first met up with the inimitable L. Ron Halfelven?
greendragon: My Dad read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to my brothers when I was little. I was far too young really, but insisted on listening in anyway! Then I was mad about the Rankin Bass Hobbit film – or rather, an LP my brother had from the film; but the Bakshi Lord of the Rings scared me!
Tolkien – or more accurately, TORn – was of course what led me to meet L.Ron Halfelven, fellow TORnado! It was in the June after Fellowship of the Ring had come out, and I discovered it was still playing in a cinema near me. I posted on the message boards to see if anyone else was local and would care to join me for a viewing; L.Ron responded, and we’ve been great friends ever since.
Kelvarhin: Have you got a favourite chapter (or paragraph etc.) from The Lord of the Rings, and why is it your favourite? If you haven’t got a favourite, why not?!
greendragon: Hmm – that’s a tricky one. It’s very hard to pick a favourite part – there are so many wonderful lines, rich characters, moving moments… In terms of a whole chapter, I think ‘Fog on the Barrow-Downs’ is probably my favourite. I’ve always enjoyed a good ghost story, and as a child, this chapter gave me delicious chills! Wonderfully creepy. Plus, I’m a big Tom Bombadil fan (and I adore Goldberry); so I like Tom coming to the rescue in that chapter.
Kelvarhin: What backstage gossip can you share from TORn events?
greendragon: You know, backstage is actually not all that exciting or glamorous! Generally it’s just about work; being backstage means running around and trying to get things done! Although, here’s a fun story from DragonCon one year: fellow staffer deej and I were meeting Sean Astin and Brad Dourif backstage before they went out for a panel. I was going to be fielding questions from the floor – so I told the gents that I would weed out anyone who wanted to ask the dreaded, ‘Can I have a hug??’ question. Immediately, both Brad and Sean gave me a big hug. ‘There you go,’ says Brad. ‘You’re our proxy hugger; we’ve hugged you, so now if anyone wants a hug you can pass it on to them!’ 😉
Kelvarhin: How did you come to be in the field of study you’re in, and what have been your educational experiences?
greendragon: Ah well – that’s both a direct route and a roundabout path – like all the best journeys!! 🙂 Basically I always wanted to work in theatre/performance. When I was very young I was obsessed with ballet and started classes; this developed into my interests in dance, theatre and music . Meanwhile my love for literature grew; I just couldn’t get enough of reading and analysing text! So I had to take a degree in English Lit, of course! My undergrad and my first postgrad degrees were in English Lit and then English and Theatre; then I took further postgrad degrees in Voice (various different aspects of music/singing/performing!) So it was a kind of varied background but which, in the end, all combined in what I currently do – which is directing/staging opera and theatre, performing as a singer myself, and coaching singers in areas such as successful auditioning and creating a character.
Kelvarhin: What inspires you, when it comes to singing?
greendragon: Generally the piece itself, whatever it may be, is inspiration enough. I’m a huge fan of text, as I wrote above; very little is as exciting to me as getting to grips with words, and trying to understand what the writer wanted to say. Add to that the composer’s interpretation of those words into music, and you have a pretty heady mix! It thrills me to try to communicate, in performance, something about life, about art, about being human; some emotion or an experience, whatever that may be. As a performer, you look for the message given by the writer and composer, and then reinterpret that to pass it along to an audience.
Kelvarhin: How did you find yourself working “across the Pond” in Boston, and would you be willing to recount for us your hair-pulling green card experience which culminated in your being proclaimed an “Alien of Extraordinary Ability”?
greendragon: I came to the US as a student (for my final postgrad degree) – Britain is home! I was planning on staying one year, but I was offered a job which tempted me, so I stayed – and I’m still here!
The greencard saga is too long winded (and tedious, believe me!) to go into here; suffice to say it ain’t easy, especially when one is ‘self-sponsoring’ (which requires proving that you are in the top percentage in your field). It’s also an expensive process! But it was all worth it; especially for the fun of receiving a letter from the United States government, officially declaring me an Alien of Extraordinary Ability! I was so excited when I got that letter – and amused, of course.. .Still not sure what my special alien skill is. 🙂
I always warn everyone that the questions we get can be a little on the crazy side, and the next two are probably the craziest I’ve ever seen! (I’m also a little confused, never heard of “Thrills chewing gum”)
Kelvarhin: The gown you wore to the One Party is the same colour as Thrills chewing gum… coincidence?
greendragon: Absolutely not! My appearance at the party was sponsored by Thrills gum, hence the careful choice of dress.
Kelvarhin: Have you ever tried Thrills chewing gum? If so, are you in the tastes like soap camp?
greendragon: I’ve actually never heard of Thrills gum; so my reply above might possibly be false. Further, I have no idea what soap camp tastes like…
If anyone can help greendragon and I out on this one, reply below 😉
Kelvarhin: Aunt Dora Baggins would like to know “When will you be making another visit to Colorado?”
greendragon: As soon as I can find the money and/or an excuse! What a wonderful state Colorado is; L.Ron and I had a fantastic time there, enjoying the incredibly scenery AND catching up with great friends from TORn. If money and time were no object, I’d be back in a heartbeat! This is the only drawback to all the dear friends TORn has brought me – they’re too scattered around the world! We’ve often chatted about the fantasy of all living in a TORn commune; I think we could make it work… 😉
Kelvarhin: Which would you rather have in your house for a week; a bunch of rowdy Dwarves, a pack of Hobbits who eat several times a day, or a group of Elves who won’t stop singing the entire time?
greendragon: Oh blimey I couldn’t stand the singing. I get enough of that at work!! And I cannot bear people being vulgar – I just hate anything like belching or farting. So the elves and the dwarves are out. But I do LOVE to cook, especially when I have people for whom to do it – so it would have to be the hobbits, no contest.
Kelvarhin: What was your favourite cartoon when you were growing up?
greendragon: Battle of the Planets. My Dad made me a little cap with a plastic beak so I could pretend to be Keyop (who, by the way, I had assumed was actually ‘Cheops’ – I though his name had something to do with the Great Pyramid!!) I never wanted to be Princess – male characters are generally more interesting! But I was obsessed with that show. When I was about seven I had a best mate with whom I used to act out scenes from Battle of the Planets – either that or scenes from Star Wars (when I always wanted to be Luke, but was usually made to be Leia!!)
Kelvarhin: Finally, a question that has nothing to do with gowns or chewing gum: what was it like meeting Richard Armitage?
greendragon: I’ve now had the great pleasure of meeting Mr Armitage twice. He is, as you would expect, a charming gent; warm, friendly, erudite and generous with his time, and I’m very lucky to have spent time chatting with him.
One thing I’d like to say on the topic of meeting celebs – sometimes I think fans tend to forget that they’re just people. Talented, generous people (most of them – certainly all the ones I’ve met through TORn!) it is true; but still just people. The only time I’ve ever been overwhelmed when meeting a celebrity was when I was sixteen and I met Kenneth Branagh for the first time – I was a bit of a babbling idiot then! Soon after that, I started working at the Royal Shakespeare Company in London, and I quickly realised that these actors were really no different from anyone else. So, when people ask me, ‘How do you talk to Richard Armitage without being overcome?’ the simple answer is, as delightful as he is, Mr Armitage is, in the end, another human being. He works in the arts and so do I (though clearly he is rather more talented and successful!!) So I enjoy chatting with him as I would with anyone else who explores this fascinating business of creating characters.
Though it has to be said – he looks better in leather trousers than most people… *grin*
I’m sure many of us would agree with this 😉
As always thanks to all our message board regulars, Ataahua, DanielLB, SirDennisC, ryouko, AuntDoraBaggins, grammaboodawg and dernwyn, for this months’ questions.
If you would like to ask any questions yourself, just head over to our Message Boards, the sign up process is pretty painless. A lead post for questions is made at the beginning of each month on the Main board. Or you can just check Main for this months interviewee and email me your questions at email@example.com.
Till next time from TORn’s resident Tiger.