The Spring 2019 production, The Passage: Stories from The Maafa is directed by Kymbali Craig and
written and produced by Afrikan Luv Company founder, Jawanza Bakari.
Kymbali Craig is multi-talented force that has worked in the business as a director, playwright, spoken word vocalist, performance artist, and artist educator. As a spoken word artist she is featured on the Eargasm album with poets such as Saul Williams and Jessica Care Moore. She has opened for artists such as Erykah Badu, The Roots, and Meshell Ndegeocello. As an educator, Kymbali uses her talent to impact audiences and communities everywhere. A seasoned actress, who has been in numerous Off Broadway theatrical productions, she has written and performed several one woman shows which have garnered rave reviews. Two recent shows include Monette (The Kymberley Project productions) and A Role Once Played (written by Kuba, where she performed four songs and 16 characters).
Her career as a director began with Bailey's Café intergenerational theater troupe whose production of an elders life, Dora’s Story was featured at the Woody King's infamous New Federal Theater. She was recognized for her outstanding direction and set design for the Fulton Arts play A Punk or A Gentleman, which premiered at the Theater for the New City. She also directed a reading for the playwright competition at The Black Lady Theater formerly known as the infamous Slave Theater in Brooklyn.
Kymbali can be seen on Law & Order SVU, Netflix, HBO, Showtime, various web series, and in the award winning film Pariah. A true renaissance artist, she debuted as a writer, director, and filmmaker with Skin Deep Skin Tight a theatrical graphic poetic film that takes an artistic look at the impact of race relations within American culture, focusing primarily on poor urban communities and the impact on black males. For more about Kymbali Craig visit YouTube.
Writer and Producer
Jawanza Bakari was born Lonnie Spencer in Queens and raised in Far Rockaway, New York. Jawanza graduated from SUNY at Downstate University with a BS in Physical Therapy.
Jawanza began to notice his gift for writing in his late twenties but did not bring it to reality until he self-published his first novel, Black to the Struggle with Afrikan Love (2000). This was followed by Provocative Thought: 21st Century Issues for Discussion Confronting People of Afrikan Descent (2004). In 2007, Jawanza wrote The Passage: Poems from the Maafa, which was inspired by the Maafa production at the Saint Paul's Baptist Churchin Brooklyn, under the leadership of Reverend Johnny Ray Youngblood. That same production, inspired Jawanza's first theatrical production, The Passage: Stories from the Maafa in 2008.
Jawanza has written, directed, and produced over ten plays since his theatrical debut. His credits include: Journey Continued (2009), Tears of the Lonely (2011), Tears of the Lonely Part 2: Another Session (2013), Poetic Love (2013), Where are All the Good Black Men (2014), Emi Trilogy (2015), Emi Pentology (2017), and Morning Coffee (2018). Jawanza has also written several essays and manuscripts dealing with African culture, cosmology, and history.
In 2014, Jawanza founded the Afrikan Luv Company which is a not for profit 501(c)3 community organization to make a social difference in the community of color by challenging negative stereotypes that are geared to demean people of African ancestry by producing theatrical productions that celebrate as well as educate people of African ancestry. The non profit also offers a Creative Writers Workshop designed for inner city youths of (but not limited to) African descent between the ages of 13 to 17 to help them develop or improve their creative writing skills.
Jawanza is happy to be bringing back The Passage: Stories from the Maafa to a new audience in the Spring of 2019, and hopes to educate and inspire a new generation to embrace and give back the love our ancestors have given us the last 500 years.