The Manchester International Festival will host the closing event of The Walk on Wednesday 3rd November, the culmination of the extraordinary journey of a 3.5m doll by nine-year-old Syrian refugee Little Amal from Gaziantep, Turkey to Manchester.
This large-scale public art project is sponsored by Stephen Daldry, David Lan, Tracey Seaward and Naomi Webb for Good Chance, co-producers of the critically acclaimed The Jungle, in partnership with the Handspring Puppet Company, the world famous creators of horse dolls in. produces War Horse, directed by Amir Nizar Zuabi, the Artistic Director of Good Chance.
Little Amal traveled from the Syrian border through Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium in search of her mother. She was received at the highest level by artists of all kinds – dancers, singers, filmmakers, painters – as well as civil society and religious leaders in 65 villages and towns. Her journey represents the journey of millions of people forcibly displaced by war or persecution, especially children. During this time of several global crises, Amal’s urgent message to the world is: “Don’t forget us”.
The final moment of The Walk will be celebrated with a large free outdoor event called When the Birds Land on November 3rd at 7pm in Manchester, a city that has long welcomed its diverse and dynamic population of refugee and migrant communities the highest concentration of dispersed asylum seekers in the UK outside of London. The open hearted spirit of the city is shown with people of all ages and from all parts of Manchester welcoming Little Amal with live music and singing, puppetry and dancing. If the bird country was created by working with an advisory group founded by MIF made up of adults who identify as refugees and asylum seekers and their allies, as well as a creative team that includes renowned puppeteer Sarah Wright and from film and theater Director Simon Stone (The Dig, Yerma) is directed.
A MIF-led creative learning program running throughout October will engage around 4,000 students through the distribution of educational packages, plus music sessions with Music Action International and creative dance and acting workshops with Magdalen Bartlett at 10 elementary schools in Greater Manchester. Manchester Street Poem, an art collective of people living homelessness, will create a book of stories for Little Amal, while Caring and Sharing, Rethink Rebuild Society and Support for Wigan Arrivals Project, community organizations that support asylum seekers, will create a patchwork quilt for Little Amal with local artist Ibukun Baldwin. On October 31st and November 2nd, Little Amal will travel to Wigan and Rochdale to visit parishes before the climax of the walk.
John McGrath, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the Manchester International Festival said, “We are delighted to be an important partner with The Walk. At Manchester International Festival we have a proud history of developing participatory events that bring the city together. As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, the power of art and projects like these is more important than ever to start important conversations, create connections, and bring communities together safely. We hope that everyone who calls Greater Manchester home will help us welcome Little Amal at the end of their long journey. ”
Amir Nizar Zuabi, Artistic Director of The Walk, said: “With the world’s attention elsewhere right now, it is more important than ever to rekindle the discussion and change the narrative about the refugee crisis. Yes, refugees need food and blankets, but they also need dignity and a voice. The purpose of The Walk is to show the refugees’ potential, not just their dire circumstances. Little Amal is 3.5 meters tall because we want her to inspire us to think big and act bigger. “
Tickets for The Walk: When the Birds Land are free and can be booked on mif.co.uk from October 14th.