St. Ann’s Warehouse and The Walk Productions today announced plans to bring Amal, the internationally celebrated 12-foot-tall puppet of a 10-year-old refugee Syrian girl, to New York City September 14 – October 2, 2022.
The multi-week walk, which follows Amal’s 5,000-mile trek across Europe, represents her first visit to the United States. After arriving on September 14 at JFK Airport, she will travel through all five boroughs, meeting artists, civic leaders, community groups, and young New Yorkers of all backgrounds.
In New York, Amal will be welcomed by many of the city’s leading cultural institutions, including The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, The Classical Theater of Harlem, Lincoln Center, and The New Victory Theater; by community-based groups such as The Mujeres en Movimiento, The Arab-American Family Support Center, and South Bronx Unite; and by public school students from all five boroughs through the NYC Department of Education’s theater and arts programs led by Peter Avery.
Amal is designed by the Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa, creators of the award-winning puppets for the hit show War Horse. Little Amal Walks New York is a co-production between St. Ann’s Warehouse and The Walk Productions, led by David Lan, Tracey Seaward, and Stephen Daldry. Playwright/Director Amir Nizar Zuabi serves as Artistic Director of Little Amal Walks New York, Yazmany Arboleda, New York City’s first “People’s Artist,” is the Creative Producer of the New York visit, and BAM President Emerita Karen Brooks Hopkins is its Executive Producer.
During her 4-month journey across Europe last summer, Amal was greeted by hundreds of artists and civil society and faith-based leaders, including His Holiness Pope Francis, as well as legendary actors Jude Law and Mark Rylance, Speakers of both the House of Commons and House of Lords (U.K.), the Mayor of Marseilles, Secretary General Council of Europe, and President of the Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe.
Amal’s walk covered a vast territory, including 65 villages, towns and cities, and was seen by almost a million people live and tens of millions online. Children worldwide continue to engage with Amal through outreach materials integrated into school curricula.
Since completing her 2021 journey, Amal has visited Ukraine as well as Ukrainian refugees in Poland, where she embraced and welcomed children and families who had fled the war zone. “Amal’s visit helps Ukraine stay on the front pages,” said Andriy Sadovyi, mayor of Lviv. “This attention is a new chance to end the war.”
Now an international symbol of human rights, especially the plight of refugees, Amal is coming to NYC in search of her Uncle Samir, last seen in her home city of Aleppo.
Amal is inspired by a character in Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson’s immersive play The Jungle, an intense remembrance of the bulldozed refugee camp in Calais, France. Her momentous New York visit anchors a three-part series of productions that St. Ann’s Warehouse champions to connect with America’s historic promise to embrace immigrants. On July 9, 2022, St. Ann’s and Afro Latin Jazz Alliance present Fandango at the Wall, a free concert reunitingthe multiple-Grammy-winning Arturo O’Farrill and his 18-piece Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra with son jarocho musicians traveling from Veracruz, Mexico, plus a stellar array of guest artists. Inspired by the popular Fandango FronterizoFestivals, which take place simultaneously on both sides of the Tijuana/San Diego border wall, Fandango at the Wall will be performed on the lawn of Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier I with the Statue of Liberty as its backdrop. The gathering will serve as both a poignant reminder and celebration of the power of music and culture to transcend borders.
Early next year (February 18 – March 19, 2023), St. Ann’s Warehouse and Good Chance Theatre will bring The Jungle back to St. Ann’s Warehouse, where it made its triumphant, sold-out American Premiere in 2018, originally a co-production with the National Theatre and the Young Vic.
“Amal is a powerful and moving representation of hope for the millions of refugees in the U.S. who left their homes for an unknown future,” said St. Ann’s Warehouse artistic director Susan Feldman. “As a home for global artists, St. Ann’s Warehouse understands the immeasurable value of diversity in creative expression. We’ve found a symbol of this mission in Amal.”
“Art allows us to imagine different worlds, to step into them and try, as hard as that can be, to see things differently. When I walked with Amal in Europe I knew immediately that we had to bring her to the States and New York to share with us the power of her journey. I want to thank the remarkable and generous group of New York City donors who have made Amal’s visit to our city a reality,” said Amal Walks New York Executive Producer Karen Brooks Hopkins. “I am so excited to watch Amal explore our city and in turn to have New Yorkers show her what makes this town so wonderfully unique.”
“My family’s immigration history from Colombia to the United States is full of illegal and legal crossings, forced and unforced journeys,” said Yazmany Arboleda, Amal Walks New York Producer and the People’s Artist for NYC’s Civic Engagement Commission. “I’m well aware of the many reasons and ways that people leave home. I’m delighted to shine light on the story of Amal’s visit. It is an honor to work with the artists, civic and community leaders who are making this trip possible. We could not be more excited about Amal’s visit to New York.”
“It is more important than ever to reignite the conversation about refugees and to change the narrative around it,” said The Walk Productions Artistic Director Amir Nizar Zuabi. “Yes, refugees need food and blankets, but they also need dignity and a voice. Our hope for Amal is that she will highlight the potential of the refugee, not merely their dire circumstances. Amal is 12 feet tall because we want her to inspire us to think big and to act bigger.”
“Amal will unite communities everywhere through her magical presence and her ability to delight. She will remind us of the power of girls and their right to be educated. She will ask us to welcome our fellow human beings, to take their hand,” said V, formerly Eve Ensler, ambassador for Amal.
Producer David Lan said, “We‘ve long believed that artists, grassroots communities and civic society leaders should come together to make art that matters in the real world. Amal enables that coming together.”
Major support for Little Amal Walks New York is provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, The JKW Foundation, Donald A. Pels Charitable Trust, Ford Foundation, Jerome L. Greene Foundation, Stephanie and Timothy Ingrassia, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and The SHS Foundation, with additional support from Walentas Foundation Ltd, The Scherman Foundation, The IHS Markit Charitable Foundation, Jody and John Arnhold | Arnhold Foundation, Agnes Gund, Leon Levy Foundation, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, The Jim Henson Foundation, and Maxine Isaacs.