Huge double-decker bus-sized baby installed ahead of outdoor production

By Henry Clare, Press Association

A giant 22ft high (6.7m) baby, which stands taller than a double-decker bus, has been installed ahead of an outdoor production about a mother’s fight for her child.

The vast mechanical puppet, which takes nine people to operate, is set to be the centrepiece of a show which will feature a cast of more than one hundred actors, an army tank and striking 3D illuminations.

The production, named ZARA, is being run by the Mind the Gap theatre company and outdoor specialists Walk the Plank, and will open at Halifax’s Piece Hall in West Yorkshire on Friday night after being put together over the course of four years.

After another night at the Piece Hall on Saturday, the production will then move to Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, in Southwark, London, for further nights on May 10 and 11.

Francis Morgan, who designed the show’s giant baby, said that the structure will be moved in such a way that it looks like a living, breathing human during the shows.

He 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 baby takes nine people to operate (Danny Lawson/PA)

“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.”

ZARA will be the latest output in Mind the Gap’s “Daughters of Fortune” project, which explores learning disability and parenthood for a mainstream audience.

Julia Skelton, the executive director of Mind the Gap, said: “ZARA is a huge-impact piece of outdoor theatre that has been four years in the making.

The production will launch at Halifax’s Piece Hall on Friday (Danny Lawson/PA)

“We have brought together an international team of directors, choreographers, producers, designers, technicians, puppeteers, musicians and actors.

“Right now, there are hundreds of people working on the project in the UK and we are really proud to be the company behind the idea.”

The show’s artistic director, Joyce Nga Yu Lee, said: “I believe theatre has the power to move hearts and minds, and with this international team of leading creatives, ZARA is going to do just that.

“Throughout our research, the stories we heard were tender, shocking, funny, poignant and everything in between.

“ZARA is a fusion of these complex and untold precious stories – and then supersized, It’s an unprecedented performance that puts learning disabled parents and artists at its heart and is guaranteed to deliver an unforgettable experience.”