The giant caretaker of our planet, Gnomus unearths unknown facts about the challenges humans and plants face wherever he finds himself, engaging family audiences through devised site-responsive shows. This bumbling, gentle giant is kind and friendly, engaging families in themes of extinction and conservation.
Gnomus was first commissioned for the BBC Ten Pieces Prom at the Royal Albert Hall in 2017, a classical and contemporary new music initiative that has engaged four million young people around the UK over four years. Nick Barnes Puppets asked Puppets with Guts to collaborate on developing Gnomus, a response to a Mussorgsky piece of classical music of the same name.
Following on from the BBC commission, Gnomus was further developed from a two to four-person puppet for a summer commission at Kew Gardens in 2018, delivering 52 continuous days of performances. Gnomus led a characterful and dynamic big puppetry performance to a diverse family audience, exploring the Temperate House collection and highlighting the issues facing plants and fungi. Gnomus has since appeared at a variety of events and festivals including Enchanted Horsham, Imagine Watford, Happy Streets Festival and held short-term residencies in London Bridge and Weston-super-Mare’s Old Town Quarry.
In 2022 Gnomus was commissioned by English Heritage to present Gnomus at Stonehenge, celebrating the iconic prehistoric monument and exploring its
relationship to the surrounding landscape. Gnomus at Stonehenge will run 29 April – 2 May and 27 – 29 August 2022.
What’s Next for Gnomus?
We are seeking conversations with programmers about Gnomus and how he might engage with local landmarks, historic buildings, heritage sites, botanic gardens, and similar locations as a site-responsive work with a focus on the environment.
Before performances, we consult with local experts about the chosen site and devise a responsive script. The performance outcome can be up to 6 x 15min walking tours of a site during a festival or event. This can engage up to 150 audience members per performance and many more indirectly. We seek to find interesting and unknown ideas about the site’s past and present – how and why it was built, interweaving stories of how the site has been used, and finding a contemporary context for the work.
Each site-responsive commission requires preparation time – consulting, devising and writing, and a few days of rehearsal with puppeteers and the creative team. Ideally, we are seeking longer presentation residencies at historic or conservation sites.
If you are interested in booking Gnomus for your project or event, we’d love to hear from you! Please get in touch
Cast and Creatives
Artistic Director: Ivan Thorley
Designer: Nick Barnes Puppets
Director: Rob Tygner (Originally Finn Caldwell and Andrew Dawson)
Assistant Director: Elaine Hartley
Writer: Andrew McCaldon
Executive Producer: Frank Wilson
Producer: Lara Costello
Costume Designer: Alison Alexander
Cast: Abigail Matthews, Larissa Pinkham, Olivia Bourne, Jeremy Hancock, Sean Garratt, (Former performers: Sam Clark, Iskandar Sharazuddin, Katrina Wesseling, Richard Booth, Bertie Harris, Ethan Catchpole, Edmund Wood, Phoebe Hyder, Tea Poldervaart, Tom Stacey, Romina Hytten, Amber Wadey)
Puppet Makers: Charlie Tymms, Maia Kirkman-Richards, Oli Simonon, Seb Mayer, Jo May and Caroline Bowman
Find out more about Our People