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Djola is an interdisciplinary artist/educator 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 theater, and explore a diverse range of human experience.

Co-founder of the award winning performance group Pomo Afro Homos, Djola toured nationally and internationally with their shows Fierce Love: Stories From Black Gay Life and Dark Fruit, performing in venues as varied as college cafeterias and the Lincoln Center. His work has been supported by Creative Capital, the Jerome, McKnight and Bush Foundations, and published in such anthologies as Colored Contradictions, Staging Gay Lives and Voices Rising: Celebrating 20 Years of Lesbian and Gay Black Writers.

Djola'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 his/her work. He has taught dance, acting and dramatic writing for more than twenty years in community and academic settings including City College of San Francisco, Stanford University, University of Minnesota, Macalester College and American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

A graduate of San Francisco State University where he earned an MA in Creative Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies, and The New School for Drama where he earned an MFA in Theatre, Djola is currently Assistant Professor of Theatre at Hampshire College where he teaches a broad range of theatre courses.

He is a member of Actors Equity Association, and the Dramatists' Guild.


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"(Branner) displays the chameleonic skill of the most rigorously disciplined actors."
 
- Don Shirley, LA Times
   
SELECTED CREDITS
• ACTING
 
 

2009


2008


2007


2002


2001 &1999


2000





2000-02

 



1999


1998



1996-97




1994-97







1990-94

... and Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi
by Marcus Gardley, UMass, Amherst

sash & trim
New WORLD Theater, UMass, Amherst

Fools & Lovers
by Moonworks, Connelly, NYC

con flama
by Sharon Bridgforth, Penumbra, Saint Paul

Black Nativity
by Langston Hughes, Penumbra, Saint Paul

Blues for an Alabama Sky
by Pearl Cleage, Penumbra, Saint Paul

Perestroika: Angels in America, Part II
by Tony Kushner, Pillsbury House, Minneapolis

Mighty Real: A Tribute to Sylvester
- Queer Performance Arts Festival, San Francisco
- National Black Theater Festival, Winston-Salem
- Boston Center for the Arts, Boston
- Intermedia Arts, Minneapolis

The Darker Face of the Earth
by Rita Dove, Guthrie, Minneapolis

blood pudding
by Sharon Bridgforth
Frontera @ Hyde Park, Austin

Forever Hold Your Piece (with Patrick Scully)
- Illusion Theater, Minneapolis
- Dance Theater Workshop, NYC
- Patrick's Cabaret, Minneapolis

Sweet Sadie
-
Patrick's Cabaret, Minneapolis
- Black Arts Live, Leicester, England
- Out North Theater, Anchorage
- Dixon Place, New York, NYC
- National Black Theater Festival, Winston-Salem
- Josie's Cabaret, San Francisco

Dark Fruit
selected venues include:
- Lincoln Center, NYC
- Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
- Walker Arts, Minneapolis
- Drill Hall Arts, London
- Wexner Arts, Columbus
- Boston Center for the Arts, Boston
- ICA, London
- Dance Theatre Workshop, NYC

Fierce Love: Stories from Black Gay Life
selected venues include:
- Lincoln Center, NYC
- Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
- Walker Arts, Minneapolis
- Drill Hall Arts, London
- Wexner Arts, Columbus
- Boston Center for the Arts, Boston
- ICA, London
- Dance Theatre Workshop, NYC

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Pictured: Frankie Domond
& Djola Branner

 


Pictured: James Wolfe,
Djola Branner & Emily Shoolin

 


Pictured: Djola Branner, Eric Gupton
& Brian Freeman


Pictured: Florinda Bryant, Zell Miller III,
Stacey Robinson, Renita Miller
& Djola Branner

 
"As director of ( Journey/Sanctuary ) he managed, designed and coached the cast of 13 dancers so they could speak,18 choir members so they could move, 8 school children and a live four-piece band - enough to drive a director mad in a low-budget production."
 
- Mary M. Easter, Professor of Dance & Performing Arts Carleton College


• DIRECTING/CHOREOGRAPHING
  2005 oranges & honey
New School for Drama, NYC
  2003 Making Lemonade
by Patrick Scully, Patrick's Cabaret, Minneapolis
  2001 Journey/Sanctuary
by Cathy Young, Robert Robinson & Mary Easter
Southern, Minneapolis
  2001-02 Queen Nanny, Queen Nanny
In the Heart of the Beast, Minneapolis
  2000 for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
by Ntozake Shange, Penumbra, Saint Paul
  1999 Seven Guitars
by August Wilson, Penumbra, Saint Paul
  1998 The Day the Bronx Died
by Michael Henry Brown, Penumbra, Saint Paul
  1997 The Magic of Laughter
by Danielle Daniel, Fringe Festival, Minneapolis
  1997 Esker
by Tim Herwig, Patrick's Cabaret, Minneapolis

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Pictured: Djola Branner

 

Pictured: Marie Francoise Theodore,
Djola Branner, James Craven,
Austene Van Williams-Clark & Lester Purry

 
"As a writer, Branner clearly enjoys toying with structure and exploding clichés."
 

- Max Sparber, the Minneapolis City Pages

• PLAYWRITING

  2008 sash & trim
New WORLD, Amherst
  2006 Cover
Samuel French One-Act Festival, NYC
  2005 oranges & honey
New School for Drama, NYC
  2001-02 Queen Nanny, Queen Nanny
In the Heart of the Beast , Minneapolis
  2000-02 Mighty Real: A Tribute to Sylvester
-Queer Performance Arts Festival, San Francisco
-National Black Theater Festival, Winston-Salem
-Boston Center for the Arts, Boston
-Intermedia Arts, Minneapolis
  1998 Where I'm At
Southern, Minneapolis

Homos in the House
Intermedia Arts, Minneapolis
  1996-97 Forever Hold Your Piece (with Patrick Scully)
-Illusion, Minneapolis
-Dance Theater Workshop, NYC
-Patrick's Cabaret, Minneapolis
  1996 The House that Crack Built (with Aaron Barnell)
Patrick's Cabaret, Minneapolis
  1994-97 Sweet Sadie
-Patrick's Cabaret, Minneapolis
-Black Arts Live, Leicester, England
-Out North, Anchorage
-Dixon Place, NYC
-National Black Theater Festival, Winston-Salem
-Josie's Cabaret, San Francisco

 

 


Pictured: Djola Branner & Brian Goranson

 


Pictured: Brian Freeman, Eric Gupton &
Djola Branner

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  oranges & honey: collected plays
due late 2010, RedBone Press
  Mighty Real: A Tribute to Sylvester
excerpted in Voices Rising
edited by G. Winston James & Other Countries, RedBone Press, 2007
  "Interview with Blackberry"
anthologized in In the Life
edited by Joseph Beam, RedBone Press, 2007
  "Silently Into the Night"
anthologized in Monologues for Actors of Color: Men
edited by Roberta Uno, Routledge, 2000
  Dark Fruit, a collaboration of Pomo Afro Homos
anthologized in Staging Gay Lives
edited by John M. Clum, Westview Press, 1996
  Fierce Love: Stories From Black Gay Life, a collaboration of
Pomo Afro Homos anthologized in Colored Contradictions,
edited by Harry J. Elam, Jr. and Robert Alexander, Plume, 1996
  lyrics of the last born: collected poems
Magpie Press, 1996



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  Samuel French Theater Festival Finalist, NYC, 2007
  Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, Saint Paul, 2003
  Bush Foundation Fellowship, Performance Artist, Saint Paul, 2000
  Creative Capital Grant, NYC, 2000
  Philanthrofund Grant, Minneapolis, 2000
  Best Thespian, Lavender Magazine , Minneapolis, 2000
  Jerome Foundation Grants, Saint Paul, 2000 & 1998
  McKnight Foundation Fellowship, Interdisciplinary Artist, Minneapolis, 1999
  Metropolitan Regional Arts Council Grant, Saint Paul, 1998
  Austin Critics Circle Nominee, Best Actor in a Supporting Role
blood pudding , 1998
  Many Voices Multicultural Collaboration Grant, Minneapolis, 1998 & 1996
  NEA, Diverse Visions Grant, Minneapolis, 1996
  Many Voices Residency, Minneapolis, 1994
  Bessie Award, Outstanding Performance with Pomo Afro Homos, NYC, 1992
   

 

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