Professor of Theatre
Branner's 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, the University of Minnesota, and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.
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 adaptation of a classic parable for the contemporary stage. Research and revision are vital aspects of the curriculum. This course satisfies ADM of Division I distribution requirements.
This course explores the creation and analysis of interdisciplinary theatre through the lens of the theatrical jazz aesthetic. We will combine music, movement and non-linear narrative to create short dramatic pieces, and deconstruct the work of such theatre artists as Laurie Carlos, Sharon Bridgforth and Daniel Alexander Jones. The course seeks to develop a language for collaboration and experimentation between theatre makers, dancers, musicians, and to mine directorial tools that mirror the characteristics of classic American jazz - particularly rhythm, syncopation, call-and-response, polyphony and improvisation. Prerequisite: Completion of at least one college level course in acting, directing, design, playwriting, devised theatre, dance or music.
This workshop course explores principles of acting through the lens of contemporary American drama, and simultaneously pushes our perceptions of gender. In addition to expanding physical awareness, vocal expression and relaxation & focus, we will consider the ever-changing historical, cultural and social landscapes that have defined and continue to define male, female and gender non-conforming identities, and develop a vocabulary for translating those identities to the stage. The curriculum is designed to deepen an understanding of how we express our own genders, and to develop a facility for embodying characters who experience and express gender differently than we do. Students will be required to do a significant amount of independent work outside the classroom/studio, to read and write critically (as well as imaginatively), and to work in collaboration with peers. Completion of at least one college level acting class (or experience) is required for enrollment in this course.