Large cultural event with music, dance and poetry will welcome giant puppet Little Amal to Wigan

A giant puppet symbolising a child refugee will visit Wigan as she nears the end of her 8,000km journey from the Turkish-Syrian border.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 9:20 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 9:44 am

Manchester International Festival is working with Wigan Council to welcome 10-year-old Little Amal – a 3.5m-tall puppet created by Good Chance Theatre and Handspring Puppet Company – to the town centre as part of The Walk, an artistic depiction of a refugee child in search of her mother.

Little Amal will begin her visit at Trencherfield Mill at 3pm on Sunday, October 31, before visiting Rochdale on Tuesday, November 2 and Manchester city centre on Wednesday, November 3.

There will be a road closure on Southgate while Little Amal travels towards The Edge conference centre.

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Little Amal has travelled from the Turkish-Syrian border

During the 45-minute show, visitors can enjoy a series of cultural moments, including a dance performance by WigLe Dance and music from Wigan’s Youth Brass Band.

People can then watch an installation at 4pm in The Edge produced by Manchester Street Poem, an art collective of people with lived experience of homelessness, where they will read stories to Little Amal.

Coun Chris Ready, the council's cabinet member for communities and culture, said: “It’s a privilege to be included in The Walk. We’re excited to be working with our cultural partners to also hold a number of activities for visitors while Little Amal tours the Pier quarter.

“Little Amal is an astounding piece of art with a really significant message. Her journey is representative of the tens of thousands of children who have been displaced by war or persecution.

Little Amal

“We’re a compassionate borough and are so proud to have been included in Little Amal’s journey.”

Little Amal has travelled from the Syrian border across Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium in search of her mother.

In 65 villages, towns and cities she has been welcomed by artists of every kind - dancers, singers, film makers, painters - as well as members of the public and faith leaders at the highest level, including the Pope.

Her journey represents those taken by the millions of people who have been violently displaced by war or persecution, especially children. At this time of multiple global crises, Amal’s urgent message to the world is "Don't forget about us".

Little Amal is on her way to Wigan

This extensive public art project is produced by Stephen Daldry, David Lan, Tracey Seaward and Naomi Webb for Good Chance, co-producers of the critically-acclaimed The Jungle, in association with Handspring Puppet Company, world-famous creators of the horse puppets in War Horse, and led by Good Chance’s artistic director Amir Nizar Zuabi.

Support for Wigan Arrivals Project (SWAP), a community organisation which supports asylum seekers, is working with community groups across Greater Manchester and local artist Ibukun Baldwin to create a large patchwork quilt for Little Amal.

John McGrath, artistic director and chief executive of Manchester International Festival, said “We’re delighted to be a major partner on The Walk. At Manchester International Festival we have a proud history of creating participatory events that bring the city together. 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. We hope that everyone who calls Greater Manchester their home will help us welcome Little Amal when she arrives at the end of her long journey.”

The Walk will culminate in Manchester with a free finale event at Castlefield Bowl at 7pm on Wednesday, November 3.

The event, called When The Birds Land, has been produced by Manchester International Festival with people who identify as refugees and asylum seekers and their allies, as well as a creative team that includes renowned puppeteer Sarah Wright and led by film and theatre director Simon Stone.

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