Preview: Giant Puppet Little Amal Comes to Chicago September 28-30 to Advocate for Refugees

As the fate of immigrants’ and refugees’ housing for the winter is debated in Chicago’s city council and by many aid organizations, a special guest is coming to town to advocate for humanity and prioritize the refugee crisis. Her name is Little Amal, and she’s a 12-foot-tall refugee girl puppet from Syria. This 10-year-old girl’s curiosity about the world around her has touched thousands as she travels her 6000-mile journey to represent her people. Now she is working her way across the USA, and fortunately for Chicago, we are on her itinerary!

During her travels through Europe, Amal participated in events hosted by prominent cultural organizations and changemakers, including at an installation in Turkey that paid tribute to those who lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean in search of refuge. She made an appearance at Glastonbury alongside the Refugee Choir Citizens of the World Choir. These are the kinds of events she will participate in as she crosses the USA partnering with non-profits and cultural and arts institutions.

Designed and built by the Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa, Amal’s creators are the award-winning puppet makers for the hit film, War Horse. Amal was inspired by a character in Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson’s play The Jungle, about a refugee camp in Calais, France. 


In Chicago, she will be visiting several locations September 28-30. Chicago artists and institutions involved include the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, CircEsteem, and the Syrian Community Network. The Walk Productions producer David Lan says “We’re overwhelmed by the outpouring of interest that we’ve received from partners who wish to welcome Amal to their communities.” 

“Amal stands for unity and hope, and we couldn’t impart this message without the hundreds of partners, large and small, coming together to support us as we embark on this journey,” said The Walk Productions artistic director Amir Nizar Zuabi. “Each artist, organization, and institution has a story to tell about their unique slice of American history and culture, and is inviting Amal and all Americans to learn about what makes this country’s heart beat.”

One exciting thing about Little Amal’s journey is that she really is discovering the world around her, one experience at a time. Just before she arrives in Chicago, for example, she’ll get her passport stamped in Detroit and get a little lost walking around the streets. 

But what is in store for her in the city of broad shoulders exactly? She’ll start off at Navy Pier, connecting with artists and kids (in partnership with Chicago Shakespeare Theater with Navy Pier featuring Uniting Voices, and Artists Breaking Limits and Expectations, Chicago Children’s Museum and the Syrian Community Network.), before exploring the Syrian Dream and memories of the Syrian war in Pilsen (in partnership with Tammam Azzam, Finn Ross, Fray Studio and Syrian Community Network).

Manchester Day Parade 2022.

Then it’s off to find the best view of Chicago (hint, it’s on a boat!), before making some stone soup (in partnership with Chicago Children’s Theatre, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, CircEsteem and the Syrian Community Network). Last, Amal will get some quality rest time by taking a nap in Maggie Daley Park (in partnership with Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival) as the sun sets–that’s if the exciting urban setting of Downtown Chicago will allow her the time and space to wind down before her next big journey! 

The presence of Little Amal at each of these beloved Chicago institutions and locations will surely bolster the spirits of children and passersby who spy her large presence. In addition to raising awareness about the struggles of war refugees, it will also raise funds. The Choose Love ‘Amal Fund’ provides support for refugee and displaced children all over the world, with donations providing education, food, shelter, emergency medical care, legal assistance and more for children like Little Amal. You can donate here.

For a full schedule and up-to-date information on Little Amal’s whereabouts, visit Walk With Amal.

What City, Friends, Is This?

Date: 28 Sep 2023

Local Start Time: 5:30pm

Location: Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Syrian Dream

Date: 28 Sep 2023

Local Start Time: 8:00pm 

Location: National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago

Best View of the City

Date: 29 Sep 2023

Local Start Time: 7:00pm

Location: To be revealed

Stone Soup

Date: 30 Sep 2023

Local Start Time: 10:30am

Location: Margate Park

Drift into Sleep

Date: 30 Sep 2023

Local Start Time: 6:30pm

Location: Maggie Daley Park

Kim Campbell
Kim Campbell

Kim Campbell (they/them) is a freelance editor, podcaster and creative writer who has spent a career focusing on the arts, particularly literature, theater and circus. Former editor of CircusTalk News, they have written about theater and circus for Third Coast Review since its very beginning. Kim is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and the International Network of Circus Arts Magazines. In 2019, they were on the jury of FIRCO in Madrid (Circus Festival Iberoamericano) and in 2021 they were on the voting committee for the International Circus Awards. See their tweets at @kimzyn or follow them on Instagram.