Roundhouse and Sadler’s Wells join international walk by giant puppet of a child refugee
- Credit: Archant
War Horse puppeteers Handspring have created nine-year-old Amal, whose 8,000 km walk from the Syrian border to the UK is an “ambitious project of art and hope”
The Roundhouse and Sadler’s Wells are taking part in an international arts project centring on the giant puppet of a nine-year-old Syrian refugee.
Created by War Horse puppeteers Handspring, Amal will make the 8,000 kilometre journey from the Turkish Syria border to the UK in search of her mother, in what producer Stephen Daldry describes as “an incredibly ambitious project of art and hope across Europe in support of refugees”.
Starting in March 2021, The Walk will see the 3.5 metre figure and a team of 12 puppeteers take part in events in collaboration with local arts organisations.
Artistic director Amir Nizar Zuabi said with Syrian artists creating installations along the route, the story would be “told by refugees and the communities that receive her”.
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“A nine year old refugee is walking through your area and the question is how would you like to welcome her? In the midst of the pandemic, it’s an opportunity to bring communities together and make sure the story of the refugees is not forgotten.”
In Izmir, Amal will be welcomed by hundreds of folk dancers who teach her a traditional dance. In Athens she leaves a trail of red yarn and meets a Minotaur, in Rome she will walk down a street where pictures of bombed Damascus houses are projected to “show what refugees deal with in terms of trauma.”
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In Paris there’s an installation of a refugee camp with shadow puppetry inside tents suggesting the families inside, and on the London leg in June, The Roundhouse, Royal Opera House, The Globe, National Theatre and Sadler’s Wells will collaborate on “a huge family friendly event celebrating Amal’s 10th birthday”.
Founded five years ago, Good Chance Theatre, which staged plays in the middle of the Calais Jungle, is organising The Walk.
Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq is a trustee and at the launch spoke of how her own mother was an asylum seeker.
“People will be aware of Good Chance for their work in the migrant camp in Calais that’s were I first encountered them. My mother is a political asylum seeker who came to London in the 1970s and my parents were married in the constituency I now represent so I have always been interested in stories of refugees and migrants.”
Praising “the humanitarian mission at the heart of the work,” she added: “I know more than anyone how politics can polarise people, but the arts can unite us and focus people on our shared humanity.”
Although the puppet is non verbal - the only tech is a computer which operates her eyes - it’s hoped she can become a conduit for celebrating both cultural differences and shared humanity.
Billy Elliot and The Reader director Daldry said: “Little Amal’s story transcends borders and language to highlight the challenges that refugee children face, challenges that are even more pressing during this pandemic. But she is also a figure of great hope. At times like these we need art more than we ever have,
and in these times, art must respond in an extraordinary way.”
The Walk’s Step Up appeal is raising £100,000 to make it happen.
Donate at www.walkwithamal.org/