Archive for Friday, May 12, 2006

Hobbit’ crew hatches dragon

May 12, 2006


By Tuesday afternoon, the dragon had pretty much taken over the commons area at Bishop Seabury Academy.

While 25 actors and actresses were putting the finishing touches on "The Hobbit" down the hall, one of the show's stars - and the only one made of chicken wire and tissue paper - was getting finishing touches of his own.

The fangs and forked tongue needed to be installed. The wings needed to be attached. Another coat of decoupage needed to be applied to the ears.

With the deadline ticking closer, a team of four students was hard at work on the sprawling 40-foot beast.

"Yeah, when we started it was too complicated for me to imagine it," said Erika O'Shea, a sophomore at the school and one of the dragon creators. "Now, I get goosebumps every time I look at it."

The theater department at Bishop Seabury, 4120 Clinton Parkway, is used to challenges. Its seventh- through 12th-graders perform five plays a year, including a recent Shakespeare production.

But the dragon, which will take up most of the stage in the gymnasium, may take that to a new level.

Erika O&squot;Shea, left, and Jenn Crawford,wrap a 40-foot dragon in cloth and paper for this weekend&squot;s production of "The Hobbit."

Erika O'Shea, left, and Jenn Crawford,wrap a 40-foot dragon in cloth and paper for this weekend's production of "The Hobbit."

The project has been in the works for several months. The monster's body is formed with chicken wire stuffed with newspaper to keep the shape.

Most of the body is covered in maroon liquid lame fabric, with amber fabric for the belly. Its horns are covered in black duct tape, and its ears are covered in tissue paper layered in decoupage. Its eyes are bicycle reflectors.

And the whole dragon - named Smaug by J.R.R. Tolkien - lights up with internally placed holiday lights.

On stage, it will take five people to move the dragon - one on the head, one on the neck, one on each wing and one on the tail.

In the play, as well as the book, Smaug guards the Dwarven riches in Lonely Mountain. The lead character, Bilbo Baggins and other dwarves go on a quest to reclaim the riches.

'The Hobbit'

When: 7:30 p.m. today-Saturday Where: Bishop Seabury Academy, 4120 Clinton Parkway Admission: Free (all-ages) More info: 832-1717

"The dragon is incredible," said Zach Silvers, a seventh-grader who plays Bilbo Baggins. "I'm so happy I got the part that gets to interact with the dragon. I remember when it was just chicken wire and newspapers."

Don Schawang, the theater teacher who is directing the play, came up with the idea for the on-stage dragon. He lent a book - "Art of the Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Game" - to visual arts teacher Laura Porter for reference.

Inspired by a rhinoceros head she made for the play "Rhinoceros," Porter decided to give the dragon a shot.

"You could have a voice off-stage or smoke wisping up or something to make it seem like there's a dragon," Zach said. "But he moved his head up and chases me. How many plays in a school have a full dragon?"

Back in the commons area, the workers were plotting to get the 40-foot dragon to the gym. Director Schawang is itching to rehearse with the finished product.

The dragon workers were proud their beast would be included in a pivotal scene.

"Jeff stabs it," said Jenn Crawford, a junior volunteering for the project, referring to character Thorin (played by Jeff Miller).

"Wait - he stabs THROUGH it?" interrupted O'Shea.

"Well, he doesn't actually stab THROUGH it," Crawford said, looking at her beloved creation. "At least I hope not."


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