Djola Branner (he/him) is an interdisciplinary artist/educator/administrator who combines movement, sound and light to create compelling portraits of American life for the stage. His original full-length and one-act dramas give voice to individuals historically absent from the theatre, and explore the broad range of identities and cultural experiences that define 21st century America.
Co-founder of the award winning performance group Pomo Afro Homos,
Branner toured nationally and internationally with their shows Fierce Love: Stories from Black Gay Life and Dark Fruit. In addition to performing in regional theatres across the country, he has created such original dramas as The House that Crack Built, cover (a Samuel French finalist), oranges & honey, Mighty Real: A Tribute to Sylvester, Sweet Sadie and sash & trim. Branner’s interdisciplinary work has been supported by Creative Capital, the Jerome, McKnight and Bush Foundations, and published in such anthologies as In the Life, Colored Contradictions, Staging Gay Lives and Voices Rising: Celebrating 20 Years of Lesbian and Gay Black Writers. His first book of collected plays, sash & trim and other plays, was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in 2014.
Branner’s professional life has been defined by a passion for scripting, staging and performing original drama, and that passion has defined his approach to teaching as well. His classrooms/studios are marked by a commitment to unearthing each student/artist’s authentic voice through an integration of theatrical disciplines, and a challenge to examine the cultural context of each student/artist’s work. Branner has taught dance, acting and dramatic writing for more than thirty years in community and academic settings including City College of San Francisco, Stanford University, University of Minnesota, Macalester College, the American Musical & Dramatic Academy and Amherst College.
He is a graduate of San Francisco State University where he earned an MA in Creative Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies, and The New School for Drama/Actors Studio Drama School where he earned an MFA in Playwriting.
He is a member of the Dramatists’ Guild.