The University of Kent to host a UK leg of The Walk

The University is delighted to have been chosen by Good Chance Theatre to host a UK leg of The Walk, an 8000km travelling festival of art and hope that aims to focus attention on the urgent needs of young refugees.

The focal point and central figure of The Walk is Little Amal, a 3.5m tall puppet of a young refugee girl designed and built by the Handspring Puppet Company, the world-famous creators of War Horse.

Little Amal will arrive at the University’s Canterbury campus for a series of special events on 21 October, having set out from Turkey’s Syrian border in July. Along the way, she will pass through Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium.

Little Amal, who is a figurative representation of displaced children globally, many of whom have become separated from their families, will carry the message “Don’t forget about us”.

Little Amal’s journey to the campus will take the form of a procession from Canterbury Cathedral, a spectacle that will involve hundreds of local schoolchildren and Kent students. Once on campus, Little Amal and The Walk will be welcomed by representatives from the University’s Division of Arts and Humanities and Refugee Tales, an ongoing project co-organised by Professor David Herd from Kent’s School of English and the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group.

Afterwards, there will be live performances of music, arts and puppetry at the Gulbenkian, ending with an evening of storytelling from Refugee Tales in the Gulbenkian Theatre.

The University was invited to participate in The Walk because of its reputation for and prominent role in working towards a better future for detainees and refugees. It is the only UK university to host the project.

The Walk is a Good Chance Production presented by Good Chance, Stephen Daldry, David Lan and Tracey Seaward, and is directed by Amir Nizar Zuabi. It is produced locally by the University’s Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries (iCCi).

Professor David Herd from the School of English said: ‘It is a great honour to have been chosen to be part of this amazing event. Our leg of The Walk, and the project overall, demonstrate the power of the arts to address the situations of people who have been displaced and who, in seeking refuge find themselves marginalised and, all too frequently, detained. The Walk reminds us of the urgency of changing the narrative around human movement. The University of Kent and Refugee Tales will be delighted to welcome Amal.’

Dr Margherita Laera, Senior Lecturer in the University’s School of Arts, said: ‘Migration and the movement of people are two of the major issues faced by almost every country today. We all have an obligation to not only understand but to help others understand the reasons why people are often forced or required to journey from their homelands. Through art, we can connect with the stories of others that may be different from ours and learn how to respect and honour them. I hope this event will help us realise that the plight of refugees concerns us all, and that we can and must support them through gestures of hospitality and welcome.’

David Sefton, Director of Culture and Creative Projects at iCCi, University of Kent, the local producers for The Walk, said: ‘We are looking forward to hosting what promises to be one of the most memorable events in the history of the University and the city. This is a genuinely collaborative project drawing together multiple departments on campus and working with local, national and international partners to create something genuinely momentous.’

A map of The Walk is available here.