Adelaide Festival to debut giant puppet with a message

A giant puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl will make its Australian premiere as part of the Adelaide Festival.

Jan 23, 2024, updated Jan 23, 2024
Little Amal at the Manchester Day Parade in 2022. Supplied image

Little Amal at the Manchester Day Parade in 2022. Supplied image

Known as Little Amal, meaning “hope” in Arabic, the 3.5-metre-tall animatronic puppet was created to draw attention to the plight of Syrian and other refugees.

Little Amal was designed and built by the Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa for The Walk performance art project.

In 2021, she was carried from the Syria-Turkey border through Europe to her final destination in the United Kingdom, recreating the journey taken by millions of refugees.

Little Amal has travelled to 90 cities in 15 countries and has been visited by two million people worldwide, including Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols.

Little Amal in Toronto.

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Her trek has taken her from Turkey, to Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom, raising around $1.4 million for Choose Love’s Amal Fund.

But the giant puppet has not been without controversy, with The Guardian writing that “[f]rom being pelted with stones in Greece to receiving a papal welcome in Rome, the giant girl’s migrant trek from Syria to Manchester provoked powerful responses”.

The Walk with Little Amal will premiere at the Adelaide Festival after receiving funding from the state government, following Arts Minister Andrea Michaels’ pledge of an additional $2.3 million in August 2023 to bring new major international acts to the Festival.

Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival Ruth Mackenzie said “Little Amal’s remarkable journey brings into focus the heartbreaking stories of children escaping the horrors of war, violence, and persecution.”

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