Dacha Theatre

Secret Admirer


Secret Admirer was a devised digital play which featured an original interactive board game—and invited audiences to join the fun, too! Virtual reunions, well-loved board games, and 90s kid nostalgia delighted viewers in a brand new interactive show designed for a digital platform.

Streamed on Twitch in the March 2021 era of pandemic theatre, in Secret Admirer the audience watches four characters as they reunite on a zoom call together, and play the computer game version of their favorite 90s board game over the internet together. 

As graphic designer for the show, I was responsible for the show's PR material, as well as the visuals and illustration of the game itself. For the PR, I got to combine the strong visual aesthetic of 90s era design, with it's dramatic geometric patterns and bold colors, with handdrawn marker doodles, like the material had been marked up and scrapbooked by a group of middleschoolers.

For the game itself, we went fully 90s, as if the game had really been created in the 90s PC game boom, and combined pixelated, drop-shadow graphics with hand-painted illustrations.


My illustration of the answering machine and the simple animation that played during in-game voicemails.


The titular game, Secret Admirer, was built in QLAB by the programming team so that each performance could have a different progression of gameplay. The movement of tokens and triggering of events in the game were cued manually during the show by the stage management team.


The challenge for me as a designer was to design the UI as if it were a 'real' computer game that you might have played in the 90s, while keeping it sleek and agile enough not to overwhelm the team's computers during the show.


Here's a look at the appearance of the game in-show, overlaid by the actors' faces.


Most of the elements of the game's design needed to change dynamically during the course of the play. The calendar element cycled through five different days, each with its own custom 'doodle' artwork and a reminder of the piece of Prom regalia players were trying to find during that round.

This also included the NPC icons, above. The players entered different rooms on the map and spoke to the 'non-playable characters', the boys. The boys would be in different room during different parts of a round, and these icons moved around the board accordingly.



During the course of the game, this gameboard map moved in the background with a slide effect, changing the locations based on the 'day' of gameplay.


I adjusted the poster design for social media sizes and created story-sized versions of varying complexity so that individual actors and the PR team could have maximum  flexibility while using Instagram and Facebook's native design tools.


The sheet was also made available as a fillable PDF. It also doubled as the show's program.

Guests who bought tickets a week in advance received a small packet in the mail—including this sheet! Designed to mimic the notes sheets that come with games like Clue, this sheet gave audience members a way to follow along with the gameplay and figure out the true Secret Admirer along with the players.


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©2021 Evelyn Robertson Symons