Little Amal’s visit to Times Square
I landed at JFK airport in New York on a Thursday after an international trip, which finally is an option again! On my way home I saw that my social media feed was flooded with Little Amal’s visit to New York, and I just missed bumping into her as she had arrived at JFK airport earlier the same day. I was not familiar with Little Amal, and learnt that she is a 12 foot puppet of a 10 year old Syrian refugee called Amal, and “since July 2021 she has travelled over 9,000km across 12 countries representing all children fleeing war, violence and persecution and each with their own story, Little Amal’s urgent message to the world is “Don’t forget about us”.”
I was walking to work on Friday morning through Times Square as I do often, and noticed a set up with a bunch of performers at Duffy Square. It really is amazing what locals miss out on by avoiding Times Square at all costs!! I recognized Salar Nader, the tabla player from the Broadway show The Kite Runner who I have had the pleasure of meeting in the past, among the performers. It goes without saying that I went on record what they were playing, which you can see below, and I learnt later was a sound check for a performance for Little Amal’s visit to Times Square.
Timing really is everything, and I was thrilled to be at the right place at the right time to experience the cultural phenomenon of Little Amal as she walks NYC. As the morning went on I got an inside seat into Little Amal’s visit to Times Square, where Salar played the ‘dhol’ as she arrived. It is amazing to see how her four puppeteers make her so realistic and expressive, making her larger than life and not just in her sheer size.
Here is what it was like to walk with her as she took in Times Square in the morning, and you can hear Salar playing the dhol in the background as he walked beside her –
Since I owe this experience to recognizing Salar in Times Square, here he is performing the dhol while standing and the tabla while sitting for Little Amal’s visit to Times Square –
You can actually see three of her puppeteers in the pictures below, one managing her from the inside and two from the outside. There were people keeping an area around Little Amal free and clear as the puppeteers needed a lot of space around her to make her move and turn –
Broadway cast members and music theater students greeted her with an inspiring rendition of Seasons of Love on the Great White Way in Times Square –
Little Amal went on to discover the TKTS booth as many have done before her before being serenaded with a Brand New Day. It was really amazing to experience the excitement around her visit –
Little Amal’s visit to Times Square was far from over, but I needed to get to work so I had to bid her farewell. I hope to bump into her again as she continues her walk through NYC on her visit.