Oxford prepares to welcome Little Amal – Tuesday 26 October

Little Amal is a young refugee girl in giant puppet form. Representing all displaced children, many separated from their families, Amal is travelling over 8,000km across Europe from the Syria/Turkey border to Manchester as part of The Walk. She has reached Folkestone today. On Tuesday 26 October, Little Amal will be travelling through Oxford where she will be greeted by Alice in Wonderland, in the form of The Story Museum’s own giant puppet,- in an outdoor procession through the city centre.

Amal’s epic journey, entitled The Walk, is presented by Good Chance, in collaboration with the world-famous Handspring Puppet Company, as a travelling festival of art and hope in support of refugees, led by Artistic Director Amir Nizar Zuabi. The Story Museum is the lead producer for The Walk in Oxford and is working with over 24 different creative, cultural and community partners to create a free outdoor event called ‘Amal Meets Alice’  on 26 October.

‘Amal Meets Alice’ is a predominantly non-verbal story specially commissioned by The Story Museum from Syrian author Nadine Kaadan. The story was developed from a workshop with a group of local Arab women and children and is being brought to life along the procession’s route by many different creative and community partners including Mandala Theatre, Smoking Apples Theatre Company and choreographer Joelle Pappas, under the direction of Jeremy James and with a co-curated soundtrack from Story Museum artist-in-residence Holly Khan.

The story begins in Oxford Botanic Gardens where Amal and Alice will meet in the Garden of Live Flowers. Members of the public are then invited to join the procession at Broad Street at 1.45pm as Amal and Alice travel across the city encountering a series of Amal’s memories from Syria, before celebrating their new friendship in Christ Church Meadow at 2.30pm in a mass participation dance.

Musician and Story Museum Artist-in-Residence Holly Khan is composing a Song of Welcome with pupils from St Gregory the Great School and St Barnabas School –individuals and community groups are invited to participate by learning the song either on the Story Museum website or at one of two open rehearsals taking place at The Story Museum on 23 and 24 October at 2pm. Members of the public can also make a Damascus Rose flower head dress or badge to wear on the day. Designed by artist Sarah Turner, full instructions on how to make the flowers can be found at www.storymuseum.org.uk/amal, where there are also full details of the day, including the route of the procession.

Whilst Little Amal’s journey continues beyond Oxford, the impact of her visit will continue thanks to a project called ‘Beyond Amal’ between The Story Museum and local charity Asylum Welcome. The ‘Beyond Amal’ programme offers training in oral storytelling, developing communication skills, confidence, resilience and other transferable workplace skills.

‘Alice and Amal’ is supported by Oxford City Council via the We Are Oxford Fund, the Oxford University Community Fund, Oxford Festival of the Arts, Dancin’ Oxford, the Oxford Botanic Gardens and Christ Church.