About Djola

Bookings & Contact Info


Critical Resources








sash & trim

directed by LAURIE CARLOS

"Using real and imagined events sash & trim reconstructs a man's broken promises, troubled romances, and thwarted ambition..."
- Nicole Young, Rainbow Times

This autobiographical collage of original music, movement and text, reveals a son torn between his mother's pragmatism and his father's romantic dream of becoming a successful singer/songwriter.   The father's dream fuels the son's journey to find his own voice as an artist, and his own path as a young black man. This show was presented most recently at New WORLD Theater at UMass in Amherst as part of the Community Spirit Showcase.

sash & trim features original music by Djola's father, Henry H. Branner.
Performed by Djola Branner and a cast of 4:   2 male, 2 female.
Running time - 90 minutes

"sash & trim" excerpt PDF


Mighty Real:   A Tribute to Sylvester


"Branner ... should be credited for his rigorous performance.
He understands divahood as more than a lot of attitude."
- Rohan Preston, Star Tribune, Minneapolis

This multimedia show chronicles the life and times of the flamboyant singer/songwriter Sylvester.   Under the direction of seminal artist Laurie Carlos, Djola originated the title role. It premiered at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis, and went on to tour Boston, the Black Theater Festival in Winston-Salem and San Francisco.

Though no longer performing the role of Sylvester (pass it on, pass it on), Djola is currently adapting the show into a screenplay.

The script is available for production.

Performed by a cast of 4:   2 male & 2 female.
Running time - 90 minutes

Play Excerpt- Mighty Real "Mighty Real" excerpt PDF


Compact Disc (CD)

Mighty Real: A Tribute to Sylvester
(audio recording)


" Mighty Real glistens with Branner's and his co-producer's thoughtful representations of Sylvester's songs.   The music presents a wavering calculus of joy and loss, hope and fear."
- Geoffrey Melada, artswire.org

This CD, made during the creation of the show of the same name, features remakes of twelve of Sylvester's tunes including "I Who Have Nothing", "I Tried to Forget You", "Do Ya Wanna Funk", "Changes", and "Mighty Real".

It can be purchased through itunes , and Innova Records .  
Visit Media Page for mp3 music samples.



"...truthful characters in an impossible situation... flawed, vulnerable, disillusioned and unabashedly human."
- Kym Moore, Assistant professor of Theatre Arts & Performance Studies
Brown University

A finalist in the Samuel French One-Act Festival, this play unfolds in an STD clinic in lower Manhattan. One of four African-American women suspects she has been exposed to HIV through sexual contact with a celebrity on the down-low.

The first staging of this play, directed by Kym Moore, revealed many different possibilities for casting. The STD clinic can (and should) be peopled by a diverse range of individuals - young, old, black, white, male, female and ...

Performed by a cast of 7-9: 4-5 female & 3-4 male.
Running time - 35 minutes

The House that Crack Built

text and libretto by DJOLA BRANNER

original music by AARON BARNELL

"Djola Branner's The House That Crack Built is a winning surprise."
- Rohan Preston, Star Tribune, Minneapolis

This collage of music, movement and text centers around the "lecture" of a young African-American PhD who believes he has unearthed the root of addiction. His thesis is slowly but steadily dismantled however, as his own struggle with substance abuse is revealed.          

Workshopped at Patrick's Cabaret in Minneapolis under Djola's direction, this play was first produced at Pillsbury House Theater (Heidi Hunterbatz, director; Djola Branner, choreographer) also in Minneapolis. Most recently, The House That Crack Built was staged at The New School for Drama in NYC (Rolando Ramos, director; Djola Branner, choreographer).

Performed by 8-10 actors/musicians: 3-4 male & 5-6 female.

Running time - 35 minutes

Djola is available for a number of residence activities including workshops, seminars, and conferences.


Staging Original Drama

This workshop applies elementary principles of directing to writing, staging and performing original dramatic material. Primary concerns are developing a collaborative language between playwrights, directors and actors, crafting and staging clear dramatic events, integrating movement, music and text as theatrical language, and creating ensemble through collaboration.  

The course can be adapted for intensive study over a weekend, or an extended period of 2-6 weeks. It culminates in a pubic staging of the material.

The Performance of Biography

This workshop course explores the dramatization of biographical and autobiographical material. Through writing and performance, we identify and employ approaches to creating biographical drama, and through (short) selected readings deconstruct the work of such contemporary artists as Anna Deveare Smith, Lisa Kron and Tony Kushner.  

The course can be adapted for intensive study over a day, weekend, or an extended period of 2-6 weeks. It culminates in a public performance during which each student/artist presents his/her own autobiographical or biographical material, dramatizing a clear "defining moment" in his/her own or another individual's life.

Out of Character: Writing and Performing the Monologue

The focus of this workshop course is self-scripting and performing dramatic material. Students edit and revise written drafts based upon hearing and performing their work aloud. Particular attention is paid to writing dramatically from different points of view. The same events and circumstances, when recounted by one individual, may be utterly altered when recounted by someone else. Likewise, one individual may have a completely different perspective on the same event when speaking from a different state of emotion (i.e. a state of anger versus a state forgiveness.) We also explore ways in which gender, class, and culture shift perceptions, and use rhythm, syntax, and breath to create dynamic characters for the stage.  

This course works best over a period of 4-6 weeks to allow time for multiple drafts of the material. It culminates in a public performance.

A History of Conference Activities

2009 Fire & Ink - University of Texas, Austin
Guest performer, delta dandi by Sharon Bridgforth
directed by Baraka de Soleil
2008 Intersection Conference, UMass, Amherst 
"The Performance of Biography", Workshop Presenter
2005 Sylvester, Pop Cultural Icon - NYU
"Scripting Biography", Panelist
2002 Fire & Ink - Northwestern University
"Writing for Performance ", Panelist
2001 Postmodernism and Black Performance - University of Minnesota
"Writing and Performing the Self", Panelist
1997 Black Arts Live - Manchester, England
"Homophobia in the Black Theater", Keynote Address

For Bookings And Other Inquiries

please contact: djola@djolabranner.com

Website by Yvonne Mendez - visualconcepts123.com