The Three Dragons Story

Background

Lighting workshop at Three Dragons Academy.

We created Three Dragons Productions (TDP) in 1995 as a continuation of our interdisciplinary summer-stock youth theatre camps.  Our camps rotated scripts among children’s literature, legends and myths, and Shakespeare plays. TDP was in demand, and we soon found ourselves producing original scripts, directing, serving as musicians and event managers, as well as freelancing at schools and organizations around King County.

As a co-teaching team we’ve worked with kids from diverse backgrounds in a range of settings from rural community-service nonprofits, to urban school districts, to private academies. But one thing has been constant: supplemental art, theater, and music education is in demand because it is often no longer provided by the mainstream curriculum.

Starting Three Dragons Academy in 2012 was a natural extension of our decades of teaching in other programs.

Why We Started Three Dragons Academy

Many paths led to this particular creative crossroads, among them:

Three Dragons Academy hand drawn welcome sign.
  • There's a need for arts-focused education: fine and performing arts are being cut in mainstream schooling, yet the arts are a proven way to train innovation, creative thinking, teamwork, self-discipline, public-speaking skills, attention to detail, critical analysis, self-confidence, problem solving using intelligent inquiry, and a host of other skills and virtues. We believe that divergent-thinking, imaginative young people are exactly what the future needs.
  • We love learning! Arts are our passion, and arts education especially, because arts teach without seeming like school.
  • We've been running this program in smaller or temporary ways for many years—we were ready to let our program flourish so we could help more kids!

The Three Dragons Name

Dragons are neat! Dragon myths exist worldwide in different yet similar forms. Dragons are known as majestic flyers, wordsmiths, bold treasure protectors, and brave conjurers of both fire and wishes. Feng Shui practices associate dragons with career and reputation. Dragons are symbols of luck, power, fierce loyalty, vigorous life and immortality, self-assuredness, leadership, and wisdom. Some consider it fortunate to be born in the Year of the Dragon. Dragons are associated with rare and unique magic and as masters of the untamed elements of nature—especially fire. For us that fire that represents the creative passion and sparks of ingenuity that children harness so well.

Romeo & Juliet:
"Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave! Beautiful tyrant!"
—Juliet


Antony and Cleopatra:
"Sometimes we see a cloud that’s dragonish; a vapour sometime like a bear or lion, a tower’d citadel, a pendant rock, a forked mountain, or a blue promontory with trees upon’t, that nod unto the world . . . thou hast seen these signs."
—Antony


A Midsummer Night’s Dream:
"This must be done with haste, for night’s swift dragons cut the clouds full fast. . . ."
—Puck

Three comes from the three story sources our teaching draws on:

  • Children's literature (Jane and the dragon, Puff, Smaug, Toothless, Pete's dragon, Harry Potter, Sleeping Beauty, The Neverending Story)
  • Myths and legends (Chinese dragons, St. George, Japanese wish-granting water dragons, Beowulf)
  • Shakespeare (as avid Shakespeare fans, we’ve noticed many poetic references to dragons in his works)

We chose to call ourselves an academy both to separate ourselves from the mainstream schools model, but also to give a very respectful nod to Plato's original Academy—an open marketplace of ideas where participants made thoughtful inquiries, and then, with the input of their guides, studied, researched, and discussed in order to discover answers.