George Mason University theater school announces Djola Branner as new director
George mason The University College of Visual and Performing Arts has announced that Djola Branner will be the next director of the theater school. Branner debuts on July 1, rising from his most recent role as a drama teacher at Hampshire College. With the imminent arrival of Branner, interim director Kevin murray announced his retirement at the end of the spring semester, ending about 30 years of teaching Mason. Murray, who led the School of Drama on an extensive directorial search following Ken Elston’s departure in 2019, looks forward to pursuing even more professional acting opportunities in retirement.
“We are very pleased to welcome Djola Branner to the School of Theater,” says Rick Davis, Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “He is an artist of significant professional achievement who has had a real impact on American theater during his career as a playwright, actor and director. And he has an equally important investment in education, putting the spotlight on American theater. ’emphasis on empowering students. from diverse backgrounds to tell their own stories. His experience as a higher education administrator is equally impressive, and I look forward to working closely with him as we think in the future not only of the Theater School, but of our College as a whole. “
Regarding the opportunity that Branner shared, “I am delighted to join the talented faculty and staff of the School of Theater, to build on their track record of artistic rigor and excellence as we forge a theater that represents the diversity of identities and experiences that is 21st century America. “
Theater artist and educator who gives voice to individuals historically absent from the stage, Branner works with the integration of music, sound and light as theatrical language. Co-founder of the award-winning performance group Pomo Afro Homos, he has toured nationally and internationally with their shows Fierce Love: Stories from Black Gay Life and Dark Fruit, and has performed in regional theaters across the country. . Branner’s interdisciplinary work has been supported by Creative Capital, the Jerome, McKnight, and Bush Foundations, and published in numerous anthologies, including Black Gay Genius, Colored Contradictions, Voices Rising, and In the Life. Her first book of plays, belt and trim and other pieces was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award (in 2014). His signature writings and performances have been permanently archived at the Schomburg Center for Black Research and at the digital video library of the Hemispheric Institute.
Branner’s creative practice has been defined by a passion for writing, directing and performing original dramas, and this passion has also defined his pedagogy. He has taught dance and theater at City College San Francisco, Stanford University, University of Minnesota, Macalester College, American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Amherst College, Brown University and Hampshire College where he was a full professor of theater. Branner holds an MA in Creative Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies from San Francisco State University, and an MA in Dramatic Writing from The actors’ studio School of Dramatic Art / New School of Dramatic Art.