A Dragon's Tale: Miami University Theatre Creates Dragon for She Kills Monsters

Students at the Miami Art Museum take notes as they view artworks
The group builds the dragon
The wings of the dragon

I’ve just enjoyed seeing the process, because you start off with these tiny pieces of foam, and then you start gluing, and then all of a sudden you have a dragon head.

-Jordan Meyers

On November 20-24th, the Miami University Department of Theatre will present She Kills Monsters, a dramatic comedy written by Qui Nguyen. The play follows a woman’s exploration through the world of Dungeons & Dragons as a means of connecting to her deceased younger sister. 

Among the many puppets and props included in the play, one in particular stands out: the dragon. Melanie Mortimore, an assistant professor of theatre and costume designer, leads a team of students in creating a five-headed dragon. Students Laura Smith, Jordan Meyers, Annie Watson, Tory Noble, Trish Grogan, Taylor Yaeck, and Chase Weimerskirch have come together to complete this daunting task.

Chase Weimerskirch, a freshman theatre major, explained that he personally puts in an average of 10 hours a week working on the dragon, as do most other team members. Ultimately, combining the total hours of work by all the team members, over 300 hours of manual labor will go into creating the massive puppet.

According to Mortimore, the students used polyethylene foam to create the heads of the dragon. The process of shaping and gluing the foam required much patience and teamwork, according to Laura Smith, a sophomore member of the team. Jordan Meyers, who is also a sophomore, explains that one of the most difficult parts about the process is “trusting that everything will come together and that everyone’s pulling their own weight”.

Each dragon head will be individualized by a student on the team - they will each be a different color, and will be the result of a student’s extensive research and effort to personalize their specific dragon head.

Although at times the process can be difficult and tedious, the students believe the experience is well worth it. Weimerskirch explains that his favorite part of the process has been “making connections with the team, having fun conversations, listening to music, and the element of relationship and conversation that goes along with building [the dragon]”. The rest of the team agrees that the camaraderie of the process has been a highlight of the experience.

Additionally, Smith and Meyers discussed how being a part of this team has helped them to become more well-rounded theatre artists. Smith typically is onstage acting, so she believes there are many benefits to exploring the backstage elements of theatre: “It has been really beneficial for me to see the other side of the actual production of [the show]… that has been very interesting to me as a theatre artist, to be a little more well-rounded in this area”.

Though building the dragon takes much time and effort, Meyers believes watching the progress is well worth it: “I’ve just enjoyed seeing the process, because you start off with these tiny pieces of foam, and then you start gluing, and then all of a sudden you have a dragon head”.

Come see She Kills Monsters on November 20-23 at 7:30 p.m. and November 24 at 2:00 p.m. to see the final product of the team’s hard work in action!

Written by Emerson Adams
Photographs by Gion DiFrancesco

She Kills Monsters

By Qui Nguyen
Directed by Bridget Leak

Gates-Abegglen Theatre
Nov. 20 - 23 | 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 24 | 2 p.m.

  • Agnes struggles to come to terms with the sudden loss of her family, especially her little sister Tilly. With the help of a young dungeon master, Agnes ventures into the rich fantasy world of Tilly's imagination, wages epic battles, discovers who her sister was, and comes to terms with her grief. 


Available the Box Office (034 CAB) and at the door

$12 adult | $9 senior | $8 student