A local teen and the executive director of the Mountain View-based Peninsula Youth Theatre have collaborated on “The Magic Wand,” a play scheduled to premiere Saturday and Sunday via Zoom.
Created by Los Altos High School senior Ash Prodromou and PYT’s Karen Simpson, “Wand” follows two friends and their adventures – both in the real world and in the virtual world of the online cooperative game “Might and Mages.”
Inspired by what Simpson called her “gaming family,” “Wand” took five weeks to produce.
“The general idea for the play was mine, but the entire script and story (were) fleshed out with my co-author, Ash Prodromou,” Simpson said. “Ash had taken a playwriting class with me, and I knew our styles worked well together.”
Simpson and Prodromou met once a week via Zoom to discuss, write and revise sections of their play, each working on their own portions throughout the rest of the week.
“I’ve been working with Karen in a director-actor context for a while, and when she reached out to me after we had wrapped up ‘Sailing into Icy Stars,’ I was super excited to do a PYT show from the ‘other side of the table,’” said the 17-year-old Prodromou, who also takes classes at the school district’s Freestyle Academy.
Inventing the ‘Magic’
At its core, the play is about friendship.
“We started with two friends – Finley and Ari – and sort of a base idea of a game they play like Dungeons and Dragons,” Simpson said.
In the drama’s virtual world, Finley plays as Penthricus while Ari plays as Melchezador. Similar to D&D, these characters have different alignments, with Penthricus being lawful and good while Melchezador is chaotic and evil.
The story truly begins when a magical wand from “Might and Mages” comes into Ari’s possession in the real world. This wand grants mages the ability to cast powerful spells, even allowing those without magic to cast basic spells.
“(As a result,) hijinks ensue when the wand’s owner, the level 25 chaotic evil Melchezador, discovers the wand is missing and will stop at nothing to get it back,” Prodromou said.
Even though Simpson and Prodromou said they worked well together, producing a play over Zoom comes with challenges.
“Group scenes are hard – there are logistics with how the sounds overlap, challenges with how to make multiple people look like they are in one location,” Simpson said. “It’s extremely hard to direct where people will look and have them ‘look’ at each other.”
The project created new experiences for both writers. Prodromou said this was the first time she was involved with producing a play, and Simpson noted that she never before invited someone to co-write one with her.
“Wand” will be performed “by young actors who are working so hard to bring you some entertainment during this time,” Simpson said. “These are kids who love to perform, and they deserve an audience. I also think it’s pretty funny.”
Recorded performances of “Wand” are scheduled to be streamed 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. A talkback with cast members and the creative team will follow each show.
Tickets start at $15.
For tickets and more information, visit pytnet.org.
Barbie Koch contributed to this report.