A great thing about being a parent is introducing magic to your child – whether it’s inviting Santa into your home, hiding money for the tooth fairy, or playing dress-up in a Halloween costume.
No one knows this better than organizers for the 40th annual International Children’s Festival of the Arts, taking place June 5 and 6. One of the online shows is The Wizards of Oakwood Drive. Tom Salamon, a 13-year veteran of immersive theatre, developed the concept in response to COVID-19.
The 45-minute, interactive performance takes place on Zoom. It follows two sibling wizards who discover a secret book of spells and compete to be the best.
During the battle of sorcery, the siblings flash their wizarding skills and perform magic. Each wizard sends children on a treasure hunt to locate objects hidden in the home. At the treasure hunt's finale, children vote for the best wizard.
When parents book a ticket, they are given information and a list of instructions to hide a few household items in the house. In essence, parents become the wizards’ secret partners.
“It’s an opportunity to enjoy a joyful, surprising, delightful, fun, and engaging experience. But parents have to be on board just like they are for the tooth fairy or at Christmas. It’s a difficult time. Sometimes sticking a child in front of the computer is easier. This is not it. When parents watch their kids having a joyful experience – that's the payoff,” said Salamon.
In 2020, San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse commissioned him to write and produce a show for young audiences. With everyone locked indoors, the home became the stage, with parents playing an essential role.
“In my live shows, I have a stage manager who hides maps, locks, and decoded messages. I needed someone in the home. Parents became stage managers.”
The festival hosts 10 shows, for four- to 12-year-olds. Tickets are $30 per household at www.stalbert.ca.