Co-founder of the award-winning performance group Pomo Afro Homos, Djola Branner toured nationally and internationally with their shows Fierce Love: Stories from Black Gay Life and Dark Fruit. In addition to performing in regional theaters across the country, he has created such original dramas as Sutta, 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 the authentic voice of each student/artist through an integration of theatrical disciplines, and a challenge to examine the cultural context of contemporary drama. 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, Hampshire College, Amherst College, Brown University, and is currently professor of theater and director of the School of Theater at George Mason University.
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.