Smaug, a ferocious puppet dragon designed by Kevin Copenhaver, now greets visitors to the DCPA’s Education floor. Photo by John Moore.
“A most specially greedy, strong and wicked worm” has taken up residence in the DCPA’s Newman Center for Theatre Education. But there’s no need to call an exterminator. The interloper would just fry the poor bug-sprayer anyway.
Smaug, the fictional dragon and main antagonist in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic 1937 novel The Hobbit, is presently lurking above the third-floor entrance to DCPA Education’s class studios. He is a new and welcome reminder of this summer’s just-completed middle-school performance program, which culminated with a student staging of The Hobbit both in the DCPA’s Conservatory Theatre and at the Denver Zoo.
The performance involved a cast of 18 students. It took 11 to operate the 18-foot dragon – three on the head alone. The puppeted behemoth was designed by DCPA Costume Crafts Director Kevin Copenhaver, who built Smaug as part of a separate intensive DCPA Education craftsmanship class in which mostly high-school students had a hand in stitching Smaug to life.
“I think it shows the synergy between our improving technical classes, and our performance classes,” said DCPA Teaching Artist and School Coordinator David Saphier, who directed The Hobbit. “Joining forces enhances our storytelling.”
(Photo above right: It took 11 students to operate Smaug, the puppet dragon, when the DCPA’s middle-school performance of “The Hobbit” was staged at the Denver Zoo. Photo by Suzanne Yoe.)
In The Hobbit, Snaug is a fearsome denizen of Lonely Mountain and the guard of all treasure within. Once the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins discovers an open spot among Smaug’s gem-encrusted belly scales, the Dwarves take back what is rightfully theirs.
Installing the puppet dragon was the brainchild of Creative Director Rob Silk, who has overseen a complete redesign of the Education floor’s hallway, which now welcomes visitors with bright, modern colors and digital images. “The dragon is intended to showcase some of the craft of theatre, while adding a fun, dimensional element to the wall,” Silk said.
Smaug. Photo by John Moore.