Manchester International Festival (MIF) is to stage the finale event of The Walk, a travelling art festival in support of refugees that will see a 3.5-metre tall puppet travel 8,000km from Turkey.
The journey of the nine-year-old refugee girl ‘Little Amal’ began in late July at the Turkish-Syrian border. The puppet will visit Rochdale and Wigan before Manchester welcomes her in a free event at Castlefield Bowl (cap. 8,450).
The event, produced by MIF and titled When the Birds Land, will be held on 3 November and will feature live music, puppetry and dance. It has been created through collaboration with an advisory group created by MIF, made up of adults who identify as refugees and asylum seekers and their allies, as well as a creative team that includes puppeteer Sarah Wright and led by film and theatre director Simon Stone.
The public art project is produced by Stephen Daldry, David Lan, Tracey Seaward and Naomi Webb for Good Chance, co-producers of The Jungle, in association with Handspring Puppet Company, creators of the horse puppets in War Horse, and led by Good Chance’s artistic director Amir Nizar Zuabi.
MIF chief executive and artistic director John McGrath said, “As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, the power of arts and projects like these to start important conversations, create connections and safely bring communities together is more important than ever.”
The Walk artistic director Amir Nizar Zuabi 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.”
Director of The Walk: When the Birds Land, Simon Stone said, “It’s the end of Amal’s odyssey. She’s arrived in Manchester. A city with a rich history of immigration, a stunning array of diverse stories, a social fabric that weaves difference and togetherness into one despite its paradoxes. It’s the kind of city Amal can rest her weary feet. And know the conflict and struggle that lie behind her have a place to be heard and, hopefully, healed. Amongst her own, amongst strangers. The new adventure begins.”