Little Amal, a ten-year-old Syrian refugee and a 12-foot-tall puppet, has traveled 6,000 miles since July 2021, arriving today in New York City, first at JFK Airport, for 55 events over seventeen days, all free and outdoors, in all five boroughs, at the invitation of the Brooklyn-based theater St. Ann’s Warehouse. Below is a video of her first adventures: serenaded at the airport by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the Met Children’s Chorus with a performance of “Evening Song” from Philip Glass’s Satyagraha; circled by dancing youth in front of the Jamaica Performing Arts Center; invited into King Manor Museum in Rufus King Park by Rufus King himself, one of the signers of the United States Constitution: “You always have a home here in Queens,” Rufus said. But she couldn’t fit into the door. (Rufus was a much smaller puppet.)
Tomorrow she will be at Grand Central Terminal and the New York Public Library. Friday she’ll be in Times Square, sung to by some Broadway stars.
“We wanted to create a project that highlighted what refugees are going through,” Amir Nizar Zuabi, the artistic director of Little Amal, who walked wearing an earpiece alongside the puppet in the procession, which is operated by a puppeteer at either arm and one inside who does the actual walking. (A fourth pushes her luggage.)
Little Amal doesn’t speak; there’s no script. But, Zuabi says, “it’s very special. She’s a very good actor.”