Royal Opera House to Welcome Little Amal to Draw Attention to Plight of Refugees

By Chris Ruel
Photo: Andre Liohn

On Oct. 23, 2021, the Royal Opera House welcomes an 11 foot, cane and carbon-fiber guest named Little Amal, a puppet traveling nearly 5,000 miles from Syria to the U.K. to draw attention to the plight of refugees.

Amal will spend the eve of her 10th birthday in Paul Hamlyn Hall, where she’ll be sung and danced to sleep by artists from across London.

Little Amal’s visit is part of Good Chance Theatre’s “The Walk,” a project that brings together a variety of artists to create participatory outdoor events to ensure the world does not forget the millions of displaced children.

Amal’s story is that of a 9-year-old refugee in search of her mother and a new life. Amal, in Arabic, means hope, and “The Walk” is a traveling festival of art and hope to support refugees.

Little Amal, made by Handspring Puppet Company, creators of “War Horse,” will make her way through London on Oct. 22-25, taking part in events at such venues as The National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, Somerset House, and the V&A before the Oct. 23 Royal Opera House program, “A Bed for the Night.”

The Oct. 23 ROH program will begin with Royal Ballet Principal dancers Cesar Corrales and Francesca Hayward welcoming Amal into the Paul Hamlyn Hall.

Along with dance and theater performances, Citizens of the World Choir, a group comprising displaced people and their allies, will join the Royal Opera Chorus to sing a commissioned composition by Ayanna Witter-Johnson. Choir co-founder and Musical Director Becky Dell conducts.

The Royal Opera House Chorus closes out the night with a series of lullabies performed by ROH’s Jette Parker Young Artists April Kojejo-Audiger and Michael Sikich, and a filmed performance of “As We Close Our Sleepy Eyes” from Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel,” sung by three Thurrock Trailblazer schools: Deneholm Primary School, Warren Primary School, and Tilbury Pioneer Academy.

In a press statement, Jillian Barker, Director of Learning and Participation at the Royal Opera House, said, “We are delighted to be welcoming Little Amal to our home, offering her a warm bed under the iconic glass and steel ceiling of the Paul Hamlyn Hall. As London falls still, our singers and dancers will pay tribute both to her journey and to those of the many displaced children across the world — drawing attention to one of the defining issues of our times, and expressing solidarity with the artists and communities that have taken part in ‘The Walk.’”