How to control asterisk

hey there,
just getting into the development of an ivr solution and would like to use asterisk. My question is, can it be scripted ? i mainly use python, and need to be able to send asterisk a command to make a phone call, then play a prerecorded message ( right now they are .wav files ).
i also need it to respond to an incomming phone call with the current status of the machines that our server is tracking.
so, is this possible ? to actually control what is going on from the command line ?
i apologize, i am very new to this. i don’t need a full blown PBX, our office is only two people, but the ivr thing has to work.

thanks for any tips.