When Payson High School sophomores Randy Perham and Daniel Jacobs sit down for a little one-on-one video game action, things seem to get personal fast.
At least that's what happens when they perform "Nintendo," a martial arts combat scene the duo wrote, choreographed and performed, taking top honors a superior rating at the Central Arizona Acting Festival, a statewide high school drama competition last month in Apache Junction.
"We had to do a fight scene as a class project," Jacobs said, "and this is what we came up with."
What they came up with, PHS drama teacher John Siler said , is three-and-a-half minutes of fast, close, non-stop combat action that appears so real it left the festival audience gasping. "People just swarmed around these two after it was over," Siler said.
Nintendo is Japanese for "We do all we can do the best we can do and await the results," and that's pretty much the philosophy the duo employed to bring down the house.
"Hand-to-hand combat and, if the kids can handle it, sword work are among the things taught in beginning acting class," Siler said. "Daniel and Randy took it from there, making their performances better and better, mostly on their own time."
The plot is fairly simple, Perham and Daniels said. "We're playing Nintendo, and Randy keeps beating me," Jacobs said.
"So we get in this big fight, and the little guy that's Daniel wins," said Perham.
"We start playing again, and in the end Randy slaps me and runs off," Jacobs said.
"Big fight" is an understatement, as the two go through a series of flips, twists, kicks, and leaps that make grown adults wince at the very thought of bodies being put through such contortions. There are moments when they literally appear to be defying gravity.
The competition category Jacobs and Perham competed in is called Potpourri.
"It's really a category for unusual presentations," Siler said. "It can include things like jugglers and mimes."
Their performance successfully brought down the curtain on what could very well have been a disappointing day. A major winter storm moved into the Rim country on the morning of the competition, and with forecasts of an inch of snow an hour throughout much of the day, some parents who had agreed to provide transportation decided to err on the side of caution and stay home.
As a result, another production PHS drama students had prepared for the festival, "All in the Cards" starring Junior Ryan Hilgendorf and Senior Jennifer Mullins, had to be scrapped. Perham and Jacobs, however, were among the small contingent of drama students who were able to get down to Apache Junction.
Siler and his students are hoping to stage a fund-raising performance of the canceled one-act play soon. Don't be surprised if they work "Nintendo" into the evening, too.
"When students work as hard as these two did, they really deserve a chance to show what they've accomplished," Siler said. "I just taught them the basics. They get full credit for the theme and execution.
"Because of their commitment, it has just evolved into a superb moment of entertainment."