‘Game of Tiaras’

The+fifth+episode+that+the+drama+club+released+was+titled+%27The+Red+Ball%27.+The+characters+Snow+Queen%2C+Cinderella+and+Prince+Charming+are+shown+above+while+the+others+were+placed+%27backstage%27.

Melina Ramirez

The fifth episode that the drama club released was titled ‘The Red Ball’. The characters Snow Queen, Cinderella and Prince Charming are shown above while the others were placed ‘backstage’.

“I’m the snow queen. I would tell you my real name but it’s copyrighted. You can call me Ellie,” senior Renee Fegan said, playing ‘The Snow Queen’ in the first episode of the Bonita Vista High (BVH) Drama Department’s virtual production ‘Game of Tiaras’. 

The second official Drama Department production conducted during distance learning, the comedic play ‘Game of Tiaras,’ first graced the virtual stage on April 16th with its first of seven episode series airing on YouTube. The play’s seven acts are divided into separate episodes and are posted on YouTube every Wednesday at 7 p.m., accompanied by trailers and recaps of every previous episode on Instagram

‘Game of Tiaras,’ meant to be a spoof on the popular Game of Thrones franchise, leans heavily on its comedic nature. Many students expressed excitement about the theme of the production series, according to Drama Club President and senior Dana Tween.

“Students really liked Game of Tiaras because it was funny and a lot of people know Game of Thrones so they could relate it to that. I’ve had a lot of fun recording the play this year,” Drama Club Vice President and junior Kailee Wendeln-Lankard said.

In order to build “engagement and excitement” with the audience at home, English Accelerated and Drama teacher Rosmaria Sias had the episodes span approximately 20 minutes each.  

“We wanna keep [the audience] talking about [the play]. I imagine in my fantasy world that after the last episode, everyone [would be] like ‘Who’s going to get the crown?’ or they gasp and say ‘It’s Cinderella, I never would have guessed!’ and they’re posting about it on their social media,” Sias said, laughing. “That’s what I imagine it to be like!” 

Because ‘Game of Tiaras’ is entirely virtual, a variety of production elements were adapted to work with the constraints of the pandemic. Scripts are chosen from a pool of potential plays that can be done virtually. Modifications include additional director’s notes, altered character dialogue and stage directions. Nonetheless, Sias expressed that certain elements are still difficult to carry out “effectively in distance learning.”

“All these characters are supposed to be on the stage together, [but] that can’t be done virtually. So then how do we still make it look believable virtually when they don’t share the same room? There’s this one part in the play where one of the characters hits the other in the head with a club, and when she gets hit, there’s a second delay,” Sias chuckled. “[The students and I] were like, ‘You know what, we’re gonna leave it there.’ Thank goodness that this is a comedy, and that we can get away with little moments like that.” 

The previous play conducted virtually, ‘Left to Our Own Devices,’ was recorded using Google Meet and a livestream application called Steamyard. For ‘Game of Tiaras,’ Sias decided to record it entirely through Streamyard, as the application allowed her to choose which students the audience can see and which ones are ‘backstage,’ otherwise not visible to the audience. Nevertheless, students encountered difficulties recording episodes because of wifi delays or connectivity issues.

“Just imagine a student is saying their lines and they’re giving it 100 percent, and then another kid is giving it their all, and then another kid is giving it their all. It just keeps building up that suspense and the audience is super focused on what this character is saying and then—‘Um, sorry you’re frozen.’ Then, it’s just crash and burn and we gotta figure it all out again,” Sias said.  

As for the props and costumes, many are being reused from past productions and were picked up from Bolles Theatre on the BVH campus. However, the students in charge of props and costumes for the Drama Club had difficulties adjusting the costumes to the play’s online format.

“When we needed specific costumes and props for certain episodes and realized some of the props didn’t get made or some people didn’t have their props, it was difficult. So [the student actors] have to use makeshift props that they have at home,” Wendeln-Lankard said.

Along with costumes, students attempted to incorporate green screen backgrounds into the play, though students encountered technological problems and abandoned the idea altogether. The Drama Club also had to adjust the way they advertised their productions. To publicize their plays, Drama Club students created an Instagram show featuring characters from previous performances.

“I thought it’d be really cool if we could start hyping this [event] up. We [have to] find creative ways to just bring attention to the Drama Department. So we even have a separate show called ‘Spill the Tea’, where students come up with a stage personality and recap what happened in the previous episode. They act like a talk show, where they think about creative ways to advertise, like ‘Hey, let’s interview the princesses,’” Sias said. 

Sias hopes that students will continue to watch the teasers, trailers and episodes released by the Drama Department while Wendeln-Lankard hopes that students encourage classmates to “go watch the episodes!”

“I really wanted to hype [the play] up, and I really want students to have fun. They [drama students] need that recognition; they’ve worked so hard for it,” Sias said.