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Playwright Spotlight: Coolidge Harris II

Updated: Apr 3, 2021

Coolidge attended California State University, Sacramento and after graduation was a member of the Sons and Ancestors Players Theatre Troupe under the artistic direction of the late T. Michael Gates. Coolidge uses poetic language to tell stories of the Black American experience. He has authored the One Act play, "A Trial for Butchy", and later wrote "Footsteps in the Dark." After a move to the Bay Area and spending 25 years in the Washington DC metro area, Coolidge came back to California and retired as an educator to pursue his passion in playwriting.

Coolidge has always been a fan of the theatre. He was inspired by watching August Wilson’s "Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom" and "Fences" in the late 80’s at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre, and having the honor of meeting James Earl Jones in his dressing room after a performance of Athol Fugard’s "Master Harold and the Boys", “I told him I wanted to be a playwright and we sat and had a long conversation. He was so gracious,” Coolidge recalls.

His more recent plays are "Golden Wings" and "Greenwood." He fondly calls "Greenwood" his first play after using his life’s experience to tap into the souls of the hundreds lost on that day May 31, 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Coolidge was inspired to write "Greenwood" because it is the untold American tragedy. This year commemorates the 100 year anniversary of The Black Wall Street Massacre. “I am determined to let America know about this once thriving African-American community that was destroyed for no reason at all. My hope is that this play will inspire people to learn more about this massacre, to honor those lives lost in it.” "Greenwood" was Honorable Mention in the 2020 Panndora’s Box Playwrights Competition, a finalist in the 2020 (AACT) American Association of Community Theatres NewPlayFest and is currently a semifinalist in the 2021 National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre.

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