Founder of Kuumba Nia Arts and a company director. Amantha is an actress and drama practitioner. She trained at Guildford School of Acting, and studied Dramatherapy at University of Surrey Roehampton. Her theatre and television credits include: Talawa, London Bubble, Nu Century Arts, Little Angel, The OrangeTree, Eastenders, Doctors, Casualty, The Bill and BBC's Song Catcher. The Story Museum, Unlock the Chains Collective, Chipping Norton Theatre, Unity Arts , Red Dog and Underconstruction Theatre. She has a passion for African history studying for many years with Robin Walker. She adds to KNA her wealth of knowledge and interest in the African experience and stories over 8000 years to draw upon! Her therapuetic training essentially gives a holistic core to all our work.
A director of Kuumba Nia Arts, John Sailsman is a writer, actor, director and founder of Unity arts. He studied Drama and Cultural studies at Wolverhampton Polytechnic emerging with a B.A Hons degree in humanities. His professional acting career began in 1984. His credits include: Edinburgh festival, Birmingham Repertory and Black Mime TheatreCompany. He has continued to grow and develop as a writer, director and a producer, and is allowing his passion for film and multimedia to grow as he undertakes an MA in Film Studies at Reading University. He was introduced to Black Theatrical aesethetics early in career and has championed the form ever since. He adds to KNA his passion to celebrate and explore the form fully and to promot its discussion in academia .
A director of Kuumba Nia Arts, Darron is a scriptwriter with a background in linguistics and computing, specialising in a little known thing called Knowledge Engineering. He studied at the university of Hertfordshire was sponsored by Yorkshire T.V. to do a screenwriting postgrad at Leeds Beckett university. He writes in a variety of forms and is particularly is keen on writing that exposes unspoken realities, usually told via speculative forms of horror and comedy. He's had short pieces performed in what is now the Leeds Playhouse; been mentored by Tibor Jones & Associates and participated in both Triangle (a Northern Screen Agencies incentive) and London Screenwriter’s Talent Campus. He's a strong supporting force in KNA, adding balance and differing perspective to our work.
Kuumba Nia Arts began in 2008 with the Theatre Development Weekends, in collaboration with Nu Century Arts and Unity Arts. This experience marked the beginning of our work on African theatrical aesthetic which we have kept exploring ever since. In 2010, we entered the Pegasus Theatre for a one-year residency, during which we worked on new and existing productions and continued our monthly free screenings of Black cinema work as part of our Black Screen Events project.
We then went on to perfect our creations, in particular our Backside Monologue, Euton Daley’s Politics of Love, The Two Mrs Garveys, and Madam CJ Walker On Her Own Ground. In 2014, The Backside Monologue won Best Comedy and Politics of Love won Best Drama at the International Solo Festival.
We first ventured into the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2015 with The Backside Monologue, and again in 2018 with On Her Own Ground. Both creations focused on giving voice to Black female narratives. At the same time, we collaborated with the Unlock the Chains Collective to bring together theatrical interventions looking at the hidden histories of Sugar and Windrush for the Nice Cup of Tea Project and the Windrush Generations Project.
In 2019 we started a one-year residency with the Oxford Playhouse. We used this opportunity to re-work our creation Mary Prince, her story, her words, and me which we performed at the Off-Beat Festival in 2018. In collaboration with the Unlock the Chains Collective, we are taking the show – renamed SOLD – to the Edinburgh Fringe to tell the extraordinary story of Mary Prince, born a slave in the former British colony of Bermuda, who went on to become a figurehead of the abolitionist movement.