Puppet of Syrian refugee walks into Birmingham

Published: 30 October 2021
Reporter: Steve Orme

Little Amal meets residents of Erdington Credit: Ed King

A 3.5m (11ft) tall puppet of a nine-year-old Syrian refugee named Little Amal has visited Erdington to mark one of the first live events supported by the Birmingham 2022 Festival, run in conjunction with the Commonwealth Games.

Little Amal is on a 5,000-mile journey called The Walk that began in Turkey on 27 July and will end in Manchester on Wednesday 3 November. It is produced by Good Chance Theatre in association with Handspring Puppet Company, creators of the War Horse puppets.

The walk represents the journeys often taken by people of all ages and ethnicity when subject to displacement from their home country.

It takes three puppeteers to operate Little Amal: a stilt walker who also animates her face and a puppeteer on each of her arms. The team of ten puppeteers includes two from refugee backgrounds who have themselves travelled the route. The puppet is crafted from moulded cane and carbon fibre.

Louisa Davies, senior producer for the Birmingham 2022 Festival, said, “this kind of event is indicative of the wide programme of cultural happenings that will animate the West Midlands from March until September next year as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival.”