The Walk, by the Good Chance Theatre
Who are you and what is your role in the project?
I’m Naomi Webb, Executive Director at Good Chance – producing The Walk alongside Stephen Daldry, David Lan, Tracey Seaward and our brilliant team, and our colleagues and partners across Europe and Turkey.
What made you think of the project?
It all began when Good Chance built a theatre Dome in the unofficial ‘Jungle’ refugee and migrant camp in Calais, as a place for expression, creativity and dignity for everyone there. After seven months running the theatre in Calais, our Artistic Directors Joe and Joe began writing a play about the camp and created it alongside many of the people they had met there. In that play, The Jungle, there is a young girl who is alone and appears often, but has only one line; “School”. The Walk is the story of that girl and of so many other unaccompanied minors throughout Europe. We wanted to journey with Amal from the Turkey/Syria border, through Europe, to the UK, to both walk alongside her and discover her story and the story of the people she meets along the way. And what better way to tell that story than with a huge and beautiful puppet! We created the project before the coronavirus and though we’ve not had to amend it much (it all happens mostly outdoors), frankly its urgency has therefore increased. If Amal has a message, it might be simply: Don’t forget about us.
What will your project contribute to Europe, post-corona?
We want to bring Europe’s great and diverse local communities out onto the streets again! This could be an amazing opportunity, a festival of Europe re-opening. Obviously, there’s lots we don’t know about, and we’ll have a dynamic response to each country’s coronavirus restrictions to ensure everything we do is safe for everyone involved, but we really do think Little Amal could do so much for feelings of connectedness and togetherness. That’s the great thing about giant puppetry – it just so brilliantly breaks down barriers and gets people talking who wouldn’t necessarily normally. This might be something to do with puppetry as an artform. Our amazing Little Amal has been made by Handspring Puppet Company, the people who made the War Horse puppets. Basil and Adrian, who run Handspring, often talk about puppetry as being about empathy. If you can do puppetry well, you can create a very real, and we think pretty magical, empathy. And that’s what we all need now more than ever!
How do you envision it to grow from local to pan European?
The Walk is the definition of local and pan European! We’re doing meaningful work and creating connections within villages, towns, cities, countries and the continent. So as well as making an impact with a real legacy on a deeply local scale in each place Amal passes through, we’re also going to help create new connections between communities all along Amal’s route. We’re so far working with over 100 cultural, humanitarian and civic partners across Europe, with more joining every day. On a big international scale we want The Walk to help flip the script for refugees – tell a better, bigger, more positive story about the contributions refugees make to the places they start their new lives in.
And – finally – how does your project help to make Europe an open and shared public space for everyone?
Our project builds on the incredible gestures of solidarity that have taken place in Europe ’s streets and open spaces over the last few months – from singing on Italian balconies to neighbourhood mutual aid groups to Black Lives Matter marches. By walking through Europe’s open spaces and inviting people to join her, Little Amal will remind Europeans that their streets can be spaces of curiosity, wonder and welcome, as well as spaces of storytelling and theatre, and that by feeling safe and comfortable in them they can – together! – create a new shared story of care and support across borders.
Granted: 20.000 euros