Audience members can purchase individual tickets, or opt for a ‘bubble pack’ to listen with their families.
Audience members can purchase individual tickets, or opt for a ‘bubble pack’ to listen with their families.

Nom Nom Gnomes, an interactive audio play for young audiences about family time and sharing meals, arrives just in time for the holidays. It is one of a trio of shows through May 2021 in Carousel Theatre for Young People’s AudioPLAY season.

While in a normal year, Carousel would present its plays at its home base and the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island. But with the pandemic, this is no typical year, and like many theatre companies, Carousel looked for other ways to keep connected to its audience.

“We wanted to make sure that we could consistently offer something throughout the year, something that would be safe for families and for schools to interact with,” says Carousel’s co-artistic and managing director, Randi Edmundson.

Commissioned by Carousel Theatre from Vancouver theatre artists Manami Hara and Kanon Hewitt, the first play in the series is Nom Nom Gnomes, about a Japanese Canadian family who receives a package from their grandma in Japan.

But while the story unfolds much like an old-fashioned radio-play, what makes this and the two other Carousel plays in the series unique is the interactive components that will be part of each production.

“That was one of the really important things that we wanted to include because people are so inundated by technology right now,” says co-artistic and managing director Shizuka Kai.

For Nom Nom Gnomes, the interactive elements include a scavenger hunt, Japanese recipes that audiences can make at home, and even a printable card game.

“We wanted to make sure that there was something that people could also do with their bodies or their creativity while they listen,” continues Kai. “That’s what makes these plays the ideal place for something more theatrical and more engaging and hopefully fun to do with their family.”

Carousel Theatre's co-artistic and managing directors Shizuka Kai and Randi Edmundson are tasked with leading the organization through the pandemic.
Carousel Theatre’s co-artistic and managing directors Shizuka Kai and Randi Edmundson, lead the organization through the pandemic.

Diversity is another critical component to the trio of shows in the Carousel season with a Caribbean adventure in February’s Rishi & d Douen and a bilingual story about intergenerational relationships within Chinese culture in April’s 蝦仔 Little Shrimp.

“So often kids don’t get to see themselves reflected on stage,” says Edmundson. “It was definitely something top of mind for us when we chose the artists to create the shows, but they’re also just incredible artists, and we’re really lucky to have them.”

Edmundson and Kai’s first season heading Carousel Theatre, dealing with the pandemic was definitely not what the two envisaged when they took on the roles, but they remain hopeful the organization will make it through.

“It’s been tough, but it’s also been wonderful despite all the challenges that everyone is facing,” says Kai. “We are optimistic that there will be a time in late 2021 when we can have people back together again.”

Until then, Kai and Edmundson are encouraged by what they have managed to achieve during these difficult times.

“We’re just really honoured that the artists and audiences have gotten on board as we try something new and their willingness to go on this adventure with Carousel,” says Kai.

Nom Nom Gnomes kicks off Carousel Theatre for Young People’s AudioPLAY season on December 10 and continues until January 3. Visit carouseltheatre.ca for more information on it and the other two shows in the series.