Dean of Interdisciplinary Arts, Associate Professor of Theatre
Djola Branner, associate professor of theatre, received his B.A. from the University of California at Santa Cruz, his M.A. from San Francisco State University, and his M.F.A. from the New School for Drama (formerly known as Actors Studio Drama School).
His interdisciplinary work, which combines music, movement, and text as language, explores the broad gray area between performance art and theatre, and gives voice to individuals historically absent from the stage.
He has presented throughout the U.S. and abroad, contributed to such anthologies as Voices Rising, Colored Contradictions, and Staging Gay Lives, and published one book of collected plays entitled sash & trim. He has taught dance, acting, and dramatic writing at Macalester College, University of Minnesota, and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.
This introductory course examines and applies principles of acting to contemporary monologues and scenes. Techniques include relaxation and focus, sense memory, physical awareness, vocal expression, improvisation, imagination and critical analysis. The principles are examined in at least two written assignments as well, including one theatre review, and one substantial character analysis. Due to the highly collaborative and experiential nature of this studio course, attendance and punctuality are essential: two absences, but no late arrivals will be permitted.
This introductory course explores principles of playwriting by reimagining familiar fairytales, classic myths and personal narrative. Primary considerations are creating clear narrative arcs, rewriting traditional archetypes, developing dynamic characters, and cultivating a vocabulary for the critical analysis of dramatic literature. Assignments will include writing at least three original short plays, and one critical essay centering on the adaption of a classic parable for the contemporary stage. Research and revision are vital aspects of the curriculum.
This introductory course examines and applies principles of directing through the lens of twentieth and twenty-first century American drama. Primary considerations include identifying the conflict of the play, investigating the world of the play, interpreting the action of the play, staging the play, and developing a collaborative language with actors. The principles are examined in at least four written assignments, a group presentation, and a showcase of selected scenes from three contemporary American plays (TBA). Required texts: Thinking Like a Director by Michael Bloom, and three plays (TBA). Recommended text: A Director Prepares by Anne Bogart.
This 300 level course focuses on the actor's craft. We will identify clear and compelling character objectives and obstacles based upon an analysis of scripted and imagined biographies, develop dynamic behavior through sense memory, keen observation and broad physicalization, and cultivate a facility for the critical analysis of dramatic literature. Additionally, each actor will script (at least) one original monologue or scene, and perform contemporary American scenes in one public performance. Instructor permission only.
Associate Professor of Theatre
Mail Code WP
Writing Resource Center
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002