Manchester International Festival (MIF) has announced that a giant puppet will walk through the city centre next summer as part of the festival’s opening weekend.
The giant artwork – which is called Little Amal and has been created by the same team behind the world-famous War Horse puppet – is the first event to be announced for the 21st annual Manchester International Festival.
It comes with a very powerful message too.
Little Amal’s arrival to the city is part of a work called The Walk – which follows the journey of a nine-year-old refugee girl from the Turkish-Syrian border to Manchester – and is to be featured at the festival.
The puppet will travel almost 5,000 miles across Turkey and Europe “in search of her mother”.
During The Walk, the puppet will cover Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium, before arriving in at the large-scale free public event which will take place in Manchester city centre on 4th July.
Festival organisers say the 3.5-metre-tall puppet of a nine-year-old Syrian girl is an “emblem of the millions of displaced refugee children separated from their families”.
The Walk is a joint production from theatre company Good Chance and the Handspring Puppet Company.
John McGrath – Artistic Director and CEO of Manchester International Festival – said: “We’re delighted to be a major partner on The Walk, our first event to be unveiled as we plan for MIF21, and to welcome Little Amal to Manchester for the conclusion of her extraordinary journey.
“At MIF, we have a proud history of creating large-scale participatory events that bring the city together. As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, a project like this feels more important than ever – encapsulating everything that the arts can do; crossing borders, starting important conversations, and bringing communities together.
“We hope that families, communities, schools, friends and neighbours – everyone who calls Greater Manchester their home – will help us welcome Little Amal.”
Amir Nizar Zuabi – Artistic Director of The Walk – said: “It is because the attention of the world is elsewhere right now that it is more important than ever to reignite the conversation about the refugee crisis and change the narrative around it.
“Yes, refugees need food and blankets, but they also need dignity and a voice. The purpose of The Walk is to highlight the potential of the refugee, not just their dire circumstances. Little Amal is 3.5 metres tall because we want her to inspire us to think big and to act bigger.”
He added: “She is walking through your town. The question is how would you like to welcome her?”
You can find more information about The Walk via the Manchester International Festival (MIF) website here.