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What happens when we separate from our own hearts?

“HUMAN,” a new stage play for all ages, answers that question while exploring what it means to be HUMAN

“HUMAN” offers a space for audiences of all ages to explore and reflect on human-ness and humanity at a time when it is greatly needed.”

— Nehprii Amenii

ASHEVILLE, NC, UNITED STATES, May 10, 2022 / — In the latest full production from writer-director Nehprii Amenii, humanity has died off because it failed to hearken to its own hearts and did everything correct to make itself extinct. An octopus named Akashi could donate one of his three hearts to bring about what would hopefully be a more evolved and sensitive human. But Akashi isn’t sure he wants to do that – he finds life to be better without humans.

Told through the windows of a sunken submarine, using images of the human heart and a hybrid of puppetry styles, “HUMAN” is a 60-minute interactive multimedia performance for all ages.

With one more week to go “HUMAN” is having a fantastic run at the Wortham Center for Performing Arts. (See the listings information below.) Audience members have stated that “HUMAN” is a show that needs to be seen by every child and family in the world and have thanked Amenii and for creating such a beautiful work full of meaning. A student in attendance said it’s the best thing they’ve seen in their entire life. Shana Adams, former community engagement director at the Wortham, said ” As soon as I walked into the theatre space, I felt transported underwater. The design of the space, the story, songs, moments of meaning, irony, laughter… everything was beautifully done,” Shana said. “Thank you for bringing this work of love into existence.”

“Nehprii has brought together an incredible team who between them have Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional credits, Drama Desk Awards, and the imagination, sensitivity and creativity to guide young people and their adults through a timely, and in the end, joyful exploration of hope in our current moment,” said Abby Felder, Asheville Creative Arts artistic producing director.

“HUMAN” features original music by Martha Redbone and Aaron ; choreography by Amparo “Chigui” Santiago; lights, projections and environment design by Marie Yokoyama; sound designs by electronic composer Joo Won Park; and puppet designs by Nehprii Amenii and Dan Jones, April Tillies and Jorge Ariel Blanco Muñoz, with early puppet prototypes by Tarish “Jeghetto” Pipkins. Musical direction by Gina Jones and Brenda Gambill. Dramaturgy is by Dr. Allison Curseen and Philip Santos Schaffer.

As both an artist and educator, Amenii is now using theater for young audiences as another approach to the classroom.

“I’m interested in moving the conversations and teachings that usually have to happen on the edges of the curriculum into the forefront of learning. Embedding these lessons into storytelling allows me to do this.” Amenii adds that “there are many ways to approach social change… right now, I’m interested waging a revolution through the imagination.”

“I’m grateful for Asheville Creative Arts and New Victory Theater for supporting the launch and development of this work,” Amenii said. She noted that for quite some time, she has been concerned with humanness going extinct while noticing children interacting more with machines than with people. “I’ve wondered, how are children to know the difference when most of their interaction is happening with the robot? How do you teach that one is living and feeling and while the other isn’t?” she asked. “HUMAN” offers a space for audiences of all ages to explore and reflect on human-ness and humanity at a time when it is greatly needed.

Amenii is the artistic director of Khunum Productions, a platform for Creative Anthropology, that produces highly visual, narrative-based productions that combine the personal, the social, and the magical to create experiences that aim to transform the human heart, and thus our society. It is interested in the study of what makes us human, and the interconnectedness of all people and things. Its work and process of working aims to deepen human connectivity – to one another and to our own selves.

Amenii adds that “At this point in time, we are particularly interested in the excavation and reconstruction of African peoples, of the diaspora, who have gone through a unique process of cultural erasure. The same as an archeological restoration artist uses chemicals and swabs to preserve and care for cultural objects, we use the imagination, storytelling, personal narrative, movement, and puppets in attempt to restore what has been damaged in humanity.”

As a means of re-sketching the erasure, the work is infused with concepts from African spirituality and philosophy. Amenii emphasized that “This is not ‘The Little Mermaid.’ It’s not like, ‘Yippee! Under the Sea!’”

Rather, Yemi, the mermaid in the story, is based on “Yemaya,” the ocean mother goddess in Santería, an Afro-Caribbean religion practiced all over the globe. Nacci, the seahorse featured in the play, is based on “Fibonacci,” the mathematical equation found within nature – and upon which many African countries constructed their societies upon. Akashi, the octopus, is named after the Akashic records, a philosophical concept said to be the compendium of all universal events, thoughts, words, emotions and intent ever to have occurred in the past, present, or future –from all entities, not just humans.

The cast of “HUMAN” includes Rebekah Babelay, Kaylyn Carter, Josh C., April Tillies, Khalilah Smith, Olympea, and Tippin (no last names).

“HUMAN” is generously supported by The Jim Henson Foundation, Cheryl Henson, the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, and has been developed as part of New Victory Theater, powered by New 42.

LISTINGS INFORMATION: “HUMAN” will run at The Tina McGuire Theatre at the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts, at 18 Biltmore Ave. in Asheville, N.C., through May 15. Public performances will be at 7 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday, and at 3 p.m. Sunday. All tickets are pay-what-you-wish (collected post-performance). Seats can be reserved in advance through website: Email [email protected] or call (914) 830-3000 if you are a school or community group wishing attend.

Asheville Creative Arts, the co-producer of “HUMAN,” is Asheville’s critically acclaimed, award winning theater devoted to creating works for children of all ages.

For more information about the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts, visit

Rhett Wilkinson
Flacks PR
(801) 300-1809
[email protected]

Article originally published at

Music - Trend Magazine originally published at Music - Trend Magazine