Imani Harrington


Imani Harrington (playwright/writer) studied the dramatic and performing arts at Cornish College.  When she attended Cornish considered as ‘one of the best’ institutions in the country for the performing arts.  Then, it was called ‘Cornish Institute of the Arts.’ She moved back to her native land of her childhood and teenage years, where she also grew up in various regions in the [Filmo] District, and Pacific Height, and even the East side of Palo Alto.  Perhaps these are just a few of the most places that had impact on her early life, but it wasn’t until later in her adult years that she became a sort of real vine in San Francisco.


Her first play writing compilations of ‘seeded’ works began around the time she moved from the Mission District into her very first burst 500 square foot loft.  For a short period after that, she moved into a dream 1,000 near feat space (seriously) to be a non-tragic writer, Ben Okri or a ‘Hemingway’ of color; the loft space was/is (now) located in what is (now) San Francisco’s Historic & Performing Arts District. (She used to look out the window) so imperfect was the view that all she needed was keys that would get her beyond the northern view of the doors to the inside of the Golden Gate Theater, where she recalls once having auditioned for a Chorus Line. But as they say in the mo ‘peep’ this:  She presented her first play Love & Danger at the Luggage Store Gallery with a diverse group of women of color actors, ranging from South, and Southeast Asian, African, ‘African American’, Spanish and African, Latin, and Caucasian cast.


Since 1995/6 Harrington’s plays tackle the dramatic tensions between fact and fiction addressing subjects relate to education about the socio-politico body, examining the human condition on topics, such as slavery, HIV/AIDS, cultural heritage, female sexuality, the spirit world and the (‘Lost Ghosts of Hurricane Katrina’).  When it comes to trauma, destruction and loss, Harrington knows this well, she once lived in, houses, now scattered throughout the cities some of those original dwellings, now gone.  Once during specific intervals and on weekends she resided on a street that now has a new name, and she cannot forget the classic Victorians, demolished rows for redevelopment, a memory that to this day impacts her perspective about communal disasters.  Her Literary acumen Love & Danger, as Beth Watkins has written: ‘…The mise-en-scene of Love & Danger (a clinical trial site, below the city street, and in the minds of the five women characters) is a landscape rich with theatrical forebears. The hell of Jean-Paul Sarte’s No Exit, the barren wasteland of Samuel Beckett’s End Game and Waiting for Godot, the nihilism of Edward Albee’s Zoo Story, all find resonant images in Harrington’s drama…’


Over the last 18 years of the 33+ years of the 'HIV/AIDS' pandemic she has written well over 10 plays and narratives a loop some of which is also titled "The Communal Plays." A few other plays include, Bitter Fruit, Do You Have Time To Die? and Cut In the Blood/Ashes To Dust.  Her plays have been produced and staged at the Black Repertory Theatre Group, Cleveland Public Theatre, Exit Theatre, and also a reading produced by On Q Productions at Story Slam. Love & Danger happens to be ‘the first literary play on women and HIV/AIDS.” Harrington, and only if you are counting, was ‘top’ three of 32 writers for a Villa Montalvo Artist Residency. Seminal directors of the development of her play Bitter Fruit include a professional team of players, such as Shondrika-Moss Bouldin, Susan E. Brown, Peter Coyote, and dramaturge Arminda Thomas.  Bitter Fruit received its first roundtable reading under the direction of Helena-Joyce Wright at Oakland Ensemble Theatre.  Bitter Fruit ‘seeded’ 25 out of 472 submissions – a finalist in the San Francisco Bay Area Playwrights’s Festival. Do You Have Time To Die? was selected as one of 11 plays for the Cleveland Public Theatre Festival.


Despite the playwrights’ meteoric wins a dowrie for well-being and balance had waited to reach a critical mass audience for not only performance but her campaign for causes mixed with performance, a premier production of Harrington’s play Bitter Fruit will help connect community to what had taken place during the span of those years of the pandemic and for those interested in theatre and couture that reflects an arc of time of its kind.  Harrington’s work is featured in print, radio, T.V. and film.  Her first literary agent was Craig Jones who also provided her with immediate access to casting some of the best audition first picks of premiere actors, many who returned to help her move the work beyond the page to the stage and reach the prime community during some of the plays early staged readings.  Harrington was critics’ pick by Chad Jones and interviewed by Amy Goodman and Sandip Roy and a Wanda’s pic.


POZ and A&U Magazine documented her work in numerous prints. Since 1991, she has received numerous ‘awards’ such as Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Giorno Poetry Award, Pen Center West Grant, Serpent Source Grant for Women Writers, Poet’s and Writers Grant for fiction. Harrington has documented and is working on a number of projects and writes everyday even when not writing she is writing and creating at some level. However, too much information causes over stimuli like running an engine too long causes overheating to the point of exhaustion, and thus, she does her best to balance contact. Her work in the field of health offers moments to maintain well-being by not over engaging, while counterintuitive with current culture, having a lot of imagination and factual reality pushes her visual stimuli to create. But if too much it can zap her creative muse, thus and so she tampers the fragility of her continued need for retaining her focus from the barrage of information and chatter. The silence in a day and the solitude of nature is one of her blessings.