Nehprii Amenii is an artist, writer, director and educator. She is the founder and Artistic Director of Khunum Productions. She has produced work with Penumbra Theatre Company, The Flea, Asheville Creative Arts, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, Bushwick Starr, IATI Theatre, La MaMa Experimental Theatre, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, The Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre, Bread & Puppet Theater, Virginia Stage Company, Cirque du Soleil, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Foundation, where she currently serves as a creative consultant. In 2013 her play Food for the Gods was honored with the Stanley and Evelyn Lipkin Prize for playwriting. In 2015, she was invited as a U.S. delegate for the Women Playwrights International Conference in Cape Town, South Africa. Most recently she was awarded the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s 2018 Creative Engagement Award, and she is honored to be invited as a participating director in the 2018 Lincoln Center Directors Lab. Ms. Amenii has a strong commitment to education and has been teaching and developing curriculum for over eighteen years. In addition to writing and producing theatre, she currently uses multimedia-arts and storytelling to teach English and provide catharsis to young immigrants within the New York City Department of Education. She holds a B.A. in Creative Communications from the University of Minnesota and an M.F.A. in Theatre Production from Sarah Lawrence College. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.Artist statement
I see myself as an African born and raised in America, with no expiration to my lineage. Black people have been telling and animating stories through objects throughout time and the diaspora. I am of THAT continuum. I draw on spirit for my inspiration from the natural world. For me art is not for art’s sake. It’s a tool which my ancestors use to speak through and guide me. It’s anthropological. It’s spiritual. And it’s beyond the narrow constraints of the label "African-American." Black people have been puppeteering before there was a place called "America". "Is it an African American puppet if it does not represent an African American figure?" To me, blackness is defined beyond the body—there are ingredients that make up this thing black people speak of so frequently: "SOUL". Any object derived from the core creative place of the artist is OF THAT artist. So is a puppet a PUPPET if it doesn't represent a human form? of course it is. Black people create, think, dream, rejoice, yearn, wonder, toil, struggle, the same as any human beings. And are more than an IMAGE as seen from others’ eyes. We are LIVING FORMS—as are the objects we bring to life. How did you learn your craft?
Sandy Spieler, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre; Peter Schumann, Bread & Puppet Theater; and Dan Hurlin, Sarah Lawrence College.
Nehprii Amenii Location
Brooklyn, NY Date of birth
1979 Years active in puppetry
2006-present Types of puppets performed and built
Hand puppets; shadow puppets; giant puppets; objects; body puppets; masks Representative productions
Food for the Gods (2013-2018) Website