Wednesday, SEPT 13th
Pre-Walk Meetup at 6:30pm
Walk Begins at 7pm
Tired on her first night in Philadelphia, Amal is looking for somewhere to sleep. But everywhere she lays her head, she is interrupted by the sounds of the city. Frustrated and exhausted, she wanders through the night…
Start location: The Suzanne Roberts Theatre (480 S. Broad St.)
End Location: City Hall Courtyard (1400 John F. Kennedy Blvd.)
Come join us for this FREE community event!
Working with partners Broad Street Ministry, Batala Philly, the City of Philadelphia, Philly PACK, Rucyl Frison, and Donna Oblongota, Little Amal will walk up South Broad Street on September 13th!
Amal Walks Across America is produced by The Walk Productions in association with the Handspring Puppet Company. U.S. Producing Partner THE OFFICE performing arts+film. Impact+Outreach The Soze Agency. Marketing Cause Lab. PR + Communications DKC.
Little Amal is a 12-foot puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl who has traveled across 13 countries meeting more than a million people, and watched by tens of millions more online. This fall, she will journey 6,000 miles across the United States in one of the largest free public festivals ever created.
35 towns and cities from Boston to San Diego and 1,000+ artists and arts organizations will create 100+ events to welcome her. Amal’s journeys of art and hope celebrate the rich stories of refugees, immigrants and displaced people, and the communities that welcome them.
Everyone is welcome to walk with Amal.
AMAL WALKS ACROSS AMERICA: Q&A’S
Little Amal is a 12-foot tall puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl who has traveled through cities, towns and villages across Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and the UK in 2021, and Ukraine, Poland and the Netherlands in 2022. Most recently, in the fall of 2022 she completed a journey through the five boroughs of New York City. In New York, she participated in more than 50 events with cultural, political, spiritual, and other leaders, as well as artists and immigrant groups, among others. The walk is a celebration of art, hope and shared humanity that aims to unite communities and refocus attention on the urgent needs of refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers, and to highlight the rich cultures and contributions immigrants bring with them.
Amal walks for the hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced people of all ages roaming the world in search of safety, half of whom are children. When she walks, Amal brings people together. She gives voice to marginalized people (although she does not speak), and she is welcomed by ordinary people and people of power.
Amal is 10 years old and her name means “hope” in Arabic. We imagine that she is from a small village close to Aleppo, in Syria.
Amal Walks Across America is one of the world’s largest, free, public art engagements. It has been created from the perspective of a 10-year-old unaccompanied child in search of family and friends. She brings with her curiosity and warmth, caution and vulnerability, fear and joy. As a child, she experiences excitement as she is welcomed in new places but she’s also lonely and often tentative.
An “international symbol of human rights” (The Guardian, 2022), Amal is walking across the United States to learn firsthand about a country that has long been a refuge for those seeking safety and opportunity—but is struggling with how to manage long-standing issues related to immigration. Amal’s engagement with hundreds of communities across the country will help spark important conversations to help us better understand who we are and where we come from.
Along her epic cross-country journey, she will join more than 1,500 artists and participate in 100+ local events in 35 towns and cities, meeting with a wide swath of displaced and disenfranchised people, North American Indigenous people, recent migrants, and the ancestors of earlier immigrants, and learn more about the stories of the American people who established roots in these communities over the last hundred-plus years.
Amal will begin in Boston, MA on September 7 and will reach San Diego, CA on November 5. The cross-country journey will take Amal through the nation’s capital, the Midwest, the South, and across the Southern border, before heading north to Los Angeles. Amal will visit some of the country’s most iconic sites, such as the U.S. Capitol, Boston Common, Joshua Tree National Park, the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and other natural landscapes that have become synonymous with the vast expanse and sprawl of the United States.
Amal Walks Across America is produced by The Walk Productions (Amir Nizar Zuabi, artistic director; David Lan and Tracey Seaward, founders and producers; Sarah Loader, executive producer; Khadijat Oseni and Enrico Dau Yang Wey, associate artistic directors). Amal is designed and built by the Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa, creators of the award-winning puppets for the hit show War Horse.
The U.S. Producing Partner for Amal Walks Across America is THE OFFICE performing arts+film, a global producing company that leverages art for social good. Amal’s impact and outreach will be led by The Soze Agency, a social impact creative agency located in Brooklyn, NY. Marketing and advertising for Amal’s journey will be led by Cause Lab, a human-centered advertising agency.
Other partners throughout Amal’s journey include the American Library Association, Welcoming America, the American Immigration Council, Witness at the Border, the City of Columbus, Indigenous Pop X, and the Boston University Arts Initiative.
Little Amal is based on a character in Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson’s play The Jungle, a co-production with London’s Good Chance, the National Theatre and the Young Vic that had its American Premiere at St. Ann’s Warehouse in 2018. Little Amal, the puppet, is also an emblem of all young refugees and represents the countless millions of children who are displaced in the U.S. and around the world.
For many immigrants and refugees around the world, the United States looms large as a place of opportunity. Today, that promise of America continues to attract people from around the world. But equally, there’s a tension that runs through American history that suggests not all people are welcomed here. Our hope for Amal is that she can spur conversations in communities across the country around the important role of refugees and newcomers in writing the story of the United States. As a young girl, Amal will experience the wonder of the “land of the free” and also the apprehension of being in a new place.
- Boston, MA: September 7-9
- Ashfield, MA: September 10
- North Adams, MA: September 10
- Hartford, CT: September 12
- Philadelphia, PA: September 13-14
- Baltimore, MD: September 15-16
- Washington D.C.: September 17-19
- Pittsburgh, PA: September 20-21
- Cincinnati, OH: September 22
- Columbus, OH: September 22
- Akron, OH: September 23
- Detroit and Dearborn, MI: September 24, 26, 27
- Chicago, IL: September 28-30
- St. Louis, MO: October 1
- Memphis, TN: October 4
- Nashville, TN: October 5-6
- Chattanooga, TN: October 7
- Atlanta, GA: October 8, 10
- Birmingham, AL: October 11-12
- Selma, AL: October 12
- Montgomery, AL: October 13
- New Orleans, LA: October 14-15
- Lafayette, LA: October 18
- Houston, TX: October 19
- Austin, TX: October 20
- San Antonio, TX: October 21-22
- Uvalde, TX: October 24
- Marfa, TX: October 24
- El Paso, TX: October 25-26
- Nogales, AZ: October 27
- Tucson, AZ: October 28
- Joshua Tree, CA: October 29
- Los Angeles, CA: October 31 – November 3
- San Diego, CA: November 3-5
The United States is a country shaped by migration, with people arriving from across the world and people moving internally from one part of the country to the other. We are partnering with cities and towns from coast to coast that reflect those migrations.
Amal is walking from sea to shining sea, visiting towns large and small along the way, including places that have served as arrival posts for generations of immigrants, and others that have attracted migrants internally, including the great migration from the south to the north at the turn of the last century and the migration from the southern border to nearby towns and communities across the country.
Over 200 partners are supporting Little Amal on her journey in the U.S. These include theaters, community groups, local government, arts, civic society, faith groups and humanitarian organizations. Members of many of the country’s leading arts, cultural, civic and educational organizations will accompany her as she travels across the U.S.
Amal Walks Across America was made possible with an inaugural investment from the Doris Duke Foundation, as well as leadership support from the Bezos Family Foundation.
Additional generous support was provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Choose Love, The Conrad Prebys Foundation, the Donald A. Pels Charitable Trust, the McMillan Stewart Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, The Shapiro Foundation, and Students Rebuild.
Little Amal’s journey through Europe followed actual refugee routes. When she visited NYC in 2022, in partnership with St. Ann’s Warehouse, Amal’s schedule was programmed in collaboration with NYC-based cultural, immigration and social justice groups, as well as individual artists and companies that represent the melting pot that is the City. She’s gone where she’s been invited, and responded to invitations from many places in the world including Lviv in Ukraine, Paris, The Hague and NYC. Wherever she is invited, we investigate what can be created in those places that will have the greatest impact on its communities and tell the unique stories of immigrants and refugees. We visit because we think it’s important that refugee child voices are represented, such as with COP26. Every place we visit is chosen because we want to engage in conversations and places that are shaping the debate, and ultimately shaping our world. Now, as she travels across the U.S., her nine-week schedule was developed by the producers in partnership with local civic and arts groups in each of the cities and towns Amal will visit.
Humanitarian partners are supporting Amal Walks Across America through a number of ways, including by providing expertise and resources around advocacy, supporting and participating in acts of welcome, artistic events and educational programs that highlight and take place in cultural centers and throughout the city’s immigrant communities.
The walk encompasses many different regions and cities in the U.S., including cities and towns along the southern border. The migration of peoples across the southern border is an important and relevant part of the country’s story, and we thought it important to include this area.
We cannot answer the larger political issue. But we can ask that we put these arguments aside and acknowledge the humanity of the people involved and that they are not the enemy here, they are people.
We don’t presume to tell anyone what they should be thinking or feeling. We are the guardians of a very big girl who is on a very big journey. Our primary goal is to acknowledge that people who come into a country bring a lot with them. We think that before labeling them as a burden, we should spend some time with them and get to know them. This doesn’t mean we know the answers or have the solution. We are artists aiming to impart a message of acceptance.
ARTISTIC PROGRAM AND THE ROUTE
Some sections of Amal Walks Across America will necessarily involve Amal being transported by vehicles or by boat, but she walks to or within each of the planned stops on the route.
From September 7 – November 5, Amal will be out and about for six days in each week (Tuesday to Sunday), with two or three events planned every day. She will ‘rest’ one day each week, typically on a Monday.
Everyone is welcome to walk with Amal. There may be some sections of some events, in accordance with local guidelines and permissions at the time, that have a restricted capacity.
All events that are specially organized for Amal are free and the vast majority are outdoors. From time to time, our partners may invite her to an already-existing paid-entry event such as a sports event or ticketed concert.
Yes, we try to ensure Amal visits refugees and unaccompanied children as much as possible along her route and we do this with the support and guidance of local partners and agencies to ensure the safeguarding of the children and vulnerable adults she meets is upheld and respected.
Refugees need food and shelter and they also need dignity and a voice. The purpose of Amal Walks Across America, like the earlier walk across Europe and NYC, is to highlight the potential of the refugee, not just their dire circumstances. It is a celebration of migration and cultural diversity that will tell the story of the contributions made by refugees and immigrants. Art affirms our shared humanity regardless of language, culture, finance or education. Amal Walks Across America has the power to create lasting change by positively representing and telling the stories of people who are often marginalized, feared or pitied.
Handspring Puppet Company – the world renowned creators of the puppets for War Horse – has carefully crafted Little Amal from molded cane and carbon fiber, both robust but lightweight material, to achieve a puppet that can be operated for such long periods of time in varying conditions.
It takes four puppeteers to bring Little Amal to life: one on each arm, one supporting the back as required, and the final puppeteer in the inside of Amal’s torso, walking on a pair of stilts. This puppeteer also controls ‘the harp’: a complex tapestry of strings that bring Little Amal’s face, head and eyes to life. A team of 9 puppeteers will accompany Amal on her journey, who will rotate in teams of three as she walks.
We will have a content creation team as part of the moving company who will capture and edit footage daily. This will be shared across our social media platforms @walkwithamal, on our TikTok @littleamalthewalk, and on our website, which can be found at walkwithamal.org.
People who wish to participate in this movement and are curious to learn about Amal’s story and corresponding themes can peruse a Little Amal reading list. This educational pack for adults will also include a series of “simple acts,” which will suggest ways in which Americans can participate in migrant and refugee-supporting initiatives within their communities.
Finally, Amal Walks Across America. is partnering with Communities in Schools, YMCA, Teach for America, Students ReBuild, and the American Federation of Teachers to involve kids of all ages in the journey. Available in English and Spanish, the curriculum will include activities and challenges that explore Amal’s journey from her home in Syria to the many steps of her migratory journey.
As well as the group of 9 puppeteers, we will have the puppetry directors, a production team, producers and some of Little Amal’s ambassadors. Our team of puppeteers and crew are from at least 11 countries including Syria, the United States, Japan, Palestine, South Africa, Italy, Spain, Taiwan, France, Switzerland and the UK.
BY THE NUMBERS
Total events: 193
Total cities: 85
Total countries: 12
Distance: 5,000 miles
Total events: 55
Total boroughs: 5
Total events: 100+
Total cities: 35
Distance: 6,000 miles