Leeds & West Yorkshire

Zara: Giant baby puppet stars in Halifax Piece Hall show

Zara performance Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The performance of Zara included cherry pickers, tanks, 3D projections and a giant puppet of a baby

A puppet of a baby standing taller than a double-decker bus has wowed crowds during the opening night of an outdoor theatre production in Halifax.

The giant puppet, which takes nine people to operate, was the centrepiece of a show featuring a cast of 100 and 3D illuminations at the Piece Hall.

Zara, created by Mind the Gap and Walk the Plank, will be performed again on Saturday night before moving to London.

Those behind the performance said it had been four years in the making.

The story describes the life of a mother with learning disabilities and her fight to protect her baby, with the puppet standing at 22ft (6.7m).

Zara moves to Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, Southwark, for shows on 10 and 11 May.

The production is part of a theatre project exploring learning disability and parenthood for mainstream audiences.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The production's first public performance took place at the Piece Hall in Halifax on Friday night
Image copyright Chris Payne
Image caption Zara has a cast of more than 100 performers

Joyce Nga Yu Lee, artistic director, said: "When I started working on this project, I knew I wanted to make it big - I wanted it to be in your face so that people had to take notice.

"I always imagined it to be like a cross between Godzilla, the Paralympics opening ceremony, and a sci-fi film."

Image copyright Chris Payne
Image caption The show is a co-production between Salford-based outdoor arts specialists Walk the Plank and Bradford-based disabled learning theatre company Mind the Gap

Francis Morgan, who designed the show's giant baby, said: "The key thing is that it had to be lightweight enough for people to operate it by hand, it's such a massive structure.

"The only mechanical apparatus is there's a wee dumper truck that makes the child sit up and down, but apart from that, it is all done by crew."

Image copyright Chris Payne
Image caption The giant baby puppet, measuring 22ft (6.7m), takes nine people to operate
Image copyright Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Image caption The production is moving from the Piece Hall to London after a second performance on Saturday

Coronation Street and Emmerdale actress Gaynor Faye, who attended the opening night, described it as a "wonderful evening" on Twitter.

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